After three long years of waiting, the Orlando Magic will finally have an opportunity to play a home game at the new Amway Center this evening when they host the visiting New Orleans Hornets. Orlando officials, writes John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com, believe the team can reach new heights in its new facility, pointing to the successes the L.A. Lakers and San Antonio Spurs enjoyed when they moved into their new digs. And while I don't believe the Amway Center has any sort of special juice that will help the Magic succeed, it certainly won't hurt them, either. One of the biggest changes in the new arena? As Brian Schmitz points out, the Magic have retired their "Magic Show" pregame routine, hoping a more businesslike approach will aid them on their way to a championship.
|2010/2011 NBA Preseason|
|0-1 (0-0 road) |
|2-0 (0-0 home) |
|October 10th, 2010|
|Sun Sports / NBA TV|
|Chris Paul||PG||Jameer Nelson|
|Marco Belinelli||SG||Vince Carter|
|Trevor Ariza||SF||Quentin Richardson|
|David West||PF||Rashard Lewis|
|Emeka Okafor||C||Dwight Howard|
|2009/10 Advanced Stats|
|92.6 (15th)||Pace||92.0 (18th)|
|107.4 (18th)||ORtg||111.4 (4th)|
|110.0 (21st)||DRtg||103.3 (3rd)|
The Hornets enter having played their first preseason game last night, so they're a bit tardy to the exhibition-schedule party, as it were. They had a rather busy summer, having to talk superstar point guard Chris Paul into not giving up on them; hiring new head coach Monty Williams, a former Magic player; trading budding star point guard Darren Collison and James Posey in the four-team trade which netted them Trevor Ariza; and acquiring rotation players Marco Belinelli, Jason Smith, and Willie Green in separate trades.
While I'm not sold on Ariza as an offensive weapon, he will upgrade a defense that proved surprisingly mediocre last year. Despite having shot-blocking ace Emeka Okafor in the middle, New Orleans allowed the highest field-goal percentage at the rim last season, partially a function of the poor job its perimeter defenders did in preventing dribble-penetration. That'll improve with Ariza in the fold. I'm comfortable in asserting that Vince Carter would not have dropped 48 on the Hornets last season had Ariza been checking him instead of, say, Posey and Marcus Thornton.
The Magic will continue to give players routine nights off in this one. Josh Robbins reports Mickael Pietrus and Malik Allen will likely sit out despite being healthy. And the team will go back to starting Rashard Lewis at power forward, as Quentin Richardson will again get the nod at small forward. But when Lewis does play the three, coach Stan Van Gundy wants him to do a better job of establishing position in the low post and asserting himself.
The first-ever game at Amway Center tips tonight at 6 PM on Sun Sports and NBA TV. You can tune in to Sun Sports an hour earlier for a special presentation about the new building, with guest appearances by J.J. Redick and Ryan Anderson.
I'll be at Amway Center to cover the game live.