|2009/2010 NBA Season|
|October 28th, 2009|
|Louis Williams||PG||Jameer Nelson|
|Andre Iguodala||SG||Vince Carter|
|Thaddeus Young||SF||Mickael Pietrus|
|Elton Brand||PF||Ryan Anderson|
|Samuel Dalembert||C||Dwight Howard|
The Orlando Magic's mission to
defend their Eastern Conference Championship win the NBA title begins tonight at Amway Arena, where they'll take on the Philadelphia 76ers, one of the three teams they KO'd in last year's playoffs en route to an NBA Finals berth. Both teams have changed, however, as only four of tonight's probable starters appeared in the starting lineup for that first-round playoff series last year. What hasn't changed is the singer of the national anthem, as Gina Marie Incandela will perform it tonight, as she did at every home game during last year's playoff run.
Predictably, the Sixers use their defeat at Orlando's hands as motivation. Check out this Tweet from Philadelphia center Sam Dalembert last night:
Just beat Orlando for ripping our hearts out last year!! @ROYALTIVEY [Royal Ivey] @TeamLou23 [Louis Williams] @AI9 [Andre Iguodala] @yungsmoove21 [Thaddeus Young]
Orlando has motivation of its own. The Magic are out to prove that last year's Finals appearance wasn't a fluke. We've linked to a number of NBA previews in the last few days, and while most of them pick Orlando to have another excellent season, very few have it going past the second round of the playoffs.
But redemption--for Philadelphia and Orlando--isn't the only narrative driving tonight's game. New Magic shooting guard Vince Carter, a Daytona Beach native, will make his regular-season debut for what amounts to his hometown crowd. To reduce distractions, he did not set any tickets aside for family and friends. I imagine most Magic fans will direct this focus for this particular game at Carter, which is felicitous, because Sun Sports said in a press release it would focus much of its cover on the new players, but "especially Central Florida's own, Vince Carter."
One of the other new guys, Ryan Anderson, will join Carter in the starting lineup at power forward. His presence allows the Magic to play their preferred style, with four three-point marksmen surrounding Dwight Howard in the middle. Anderson had a monstrous preseason, averaging 14 points in just 20.6 minutes per game, and connecting on 56.1% of his three-point attempts.
Philadelphia fans, for their part, will have their loyalties tested tonight: will they watch the new-look Sixers kick off the new season, or the defending champion Phillies try to win Game One of the World Series? Depressed Fan, a Sixers blog, might choose the latter option and watch the Sixers on TiVo.
The game tips at 7 PM. Stay tuned to 3QC for complete coverage, including Eddy's post-game and recap posts.