After snapping a six-year playoff drought last season, the Orlando Magic are looking to build on that success and take the next step forward in 2019-20.
Last season, Orlando went 42-40 en route to winning the Southeast Division title. That was enough to help the team reach the postseason for the first time since 2012, though it bowed out in a gentlemen's sweep to the eventual champion Toronto Raptors in the first round.
With All-Star center Nikola Vucevic returning, the Magic will now aim to win their first playoff series since 2010. And that quest will begin on October 23 against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Season Opener: Oct. 23 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
Championship Odds: 125-1 (via Caesars)
Full Schedule: Magic Twitter
Miami Heat (First Game: Jan. 3)
If Orlando is going to return to the postseason for the second consecutive year and potentially make noise, it will need to prove itself against top competition.
And the Miami Heat appear to be the favorites to win the Southeast Division after acquiring four-time All-Star Jimmy Butler during the offseason.
The 29-year-old has reached the postseason in seven of his eight NBA seasons, taking three different franchises to the playoffs over the course of the last three years. He was a member of a Philadelphia 76ers squad that reached the Eastern Conference Semifinals last season before being eliminated by the Raptors in seven games.
Butler joins a talented Heat roster that features the likes of Dion Waiters, Justise Winslow, Goran Dragic and rookie Tyler Herro. Although Miami lost a paint presence by dealing Hassan Whiteside, veteran big man Meyers Leonard proved to be a quality playmaker during his time with the Portland Trail Blazers.
Orlando went 3-1 against Miami last season while ultimately finishing three games clear of the Heat in the division. If the Magic are going to build on last year's success, taking care of business against a new-look Heat squad will be key.
Atlanta Hawks (First Game: Oct. 26)
As the Atlanta Hawks are continuing to go through a rebuild, they have pieced together an interesting roster that could be on the rise.
Last year, 2018 fifth overall pick Trae Young (19.1 PPG and 8.1 APG) and second-year forward John Collins (19.5 PPG and 9.8 RPG) emerged as quite the dynamic duo. Meanwhile, the Hawks added rookies De'Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish and Bruno Fernando as well as veterans Evan Turner, Jabari Parker and Chandler Parsons.
Atlanta isn't likely to compete for a championship in 2019-20, but that doesn't mean it can't win some games. This isn't the same team Orlando swept last season while recording four double-digit victories by an average of 20.3 PPG.
In other words, don't expect a cakewalk when playing the Hawks this season.
Record Prediction: 43-39