The 2015-16 NBA schedule was released Wednesday and whether or not the Orlando Magic can take a huge step forward this upcoming season may be known early.
The Magic have not won more than 25 games in any of the last three seasons, but will be led this season by a new head coach in former point guard Scott Skiles. Skiles has a career record of 443-433 with the Phoenix Suns, Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks.
Orlando has had a decent offseason thus far with first round pick Mario Hezonja having a solid Summer League and by re-signing forward Tobias Harris while adding guard C.J. Watson.
Orlando will open the year by facing six straight teams that finished with winning records a season ago and five that made the playoffs. The lone exception is the Oklahoma City Thunder, who finished 45-37 last season and feature one of the league’s most dynamic duos in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
The Magic will host the Thunder on Oct. 30 – two days after opening the year in the Amway Center against the Washington Wizards. Orlando’s first road game will come on the first day of November against Skiles’ former team, the Chicago Bulls.
Orlando then travels to face the New Orleans Pelicans on Nov. 3 before heading to Houston the following night to face former franchise center Dwight Howard and the Rockets. The run of quality opponents however, doesn’t end there as the Magic return home Nov. 6 to host the Toronto Raptors.
Watson will face his former team, the Indiana Pacers, for the first time on Nov. 9 in Indianapolis. Watson averaged 10 points per game and shot 40 percent from beyond the 3-point arc for Indiana last season.
Skiles’ first match-up against the Bucks – the team he coached most recently – will come on Nov. 27, but his first trip to the BMO Harris Bradley Center won’t be until Jan. 26.
On Dec. 8, Orlando will face the Nuggets in Denver, where Skiles set the NBA’s single-game assist record with 30 while playing for the Magic back in late December of 1990. The Magic will visit the Phoenix Suns the following night; the Suns gave Skiles his first head-coaching opportunity.
Other notable games for the Magic include contests against last season’s NBA Finals participants. Orlando’s first contest against the reigning world champion Golden State Warriors will take place on Feb. 25 at the Amway Center. The Magic will face the reigning Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers for the first time on Nov. 23 at Quicken Loans Arena. Orlando will conclude the regular season on the road against the Charlotte Hornets on Apr. 13, which will be the Magic’s only game televised on ESPN this season.