*Addition: Rookie Jrue Holiday will be on the Inactive List tonight.
We're here at Amway Arena. It feels as if the city of Orlando is excited about this season. The city is buzzing and "expecting big things" according to the security guard at the media gate. If you want to check out downtown Orlando and what's happening right outside Amway, check out the video in the Deep Sixer video on the right. Or, if you want to check out an on-court video from about 6 p.m. tonight with Tony DiLeo, Thaddeus Young, Dwight Howard, and Patrick Ewing, that should also be in the player on the right. If you want to follow Deep Sixer on Twitter, click here: Deep Sixer.
Tonight’s season opener against the Orlando Magic might be the most intriguing first game the 76ers have played in some time. Obviously it will be nearly completely overshadowed by Game 1 of tonight’s World Series, but nonetheless it will be interesting – for those following the opening of this NBA season – to see how the Sixers handle their first test with so many new factors, so much possibility, and so many concerns.
It’s not as if the Sixers are opening the season against the Sacramento Kings, a game which, if the Sixers won, would tell us very little about where they are. They’re playing the Eastern Conference champions, the team that they last played in a meaningful game. This could possibly give us some indication of what the difference could be between last year’s team and what this year’s team hopes to become.
1.Lou Williams vs. Jameer Nelson: Want to know if Lou Williams can excel as this team’s starting point guard? The answer to that question begins tonight. Williams faces Nelson, who is coming into his own and was an all-star last season before his shoulder injury. If I’m watching this game (which I will be), I’m not looking for Williams to necessarily out-play Nelson, but prove he can defend, for 35 minutes, a guard of Nelson’s caliber.
Williams is an NBA scorer. We all know this. There shouldn’t be doubts about whether he can create shots for this team. Or, really, if he can run this offense. The point guard doesn’t run this offense like he would run other offenses. Iguodala will start the offense about as often. The thing with Williams tonight will be: Can he keep the flow, for the most part, in the Sixers favor? Can he run the tempo?
2.Andre Iguodala. This week, Sixers coach Eddie Jordan has said many things about Iguodala: He’s the team’s best player, he’s a superstar on the cusp.
During the pre-season, we didn’t see Iguodala play at this level. There were reasons given. Iguodala, who had a lot of turnovers, said he was making passes that he knew would be turnovers to show teammates open options in the Princeton Offense. Let’s hope this pays off. Iguodala’s jumper didn’t necessarily look any better in the pre-season than we’ve seen it in recent years, but he spent the summer shooting, so I gotta think we’re going to see a higher shooting percentage from Iguodala. He’s also clearly been given the mantle of team leader. With that, one would think, would come some accountability for on-court action: less complaining to the referees, more acceptance of blame for bad plays, less negative reaction to struggles.
Certainly, tonight, there will be stretches where the Sixers look not so good. How well will Iguodala pull them through it?
3.Princeton Offense. I’m not sure I can go into more detail than this. We’ve been talking about the Princeton Offense for most of the last month. Those on here know the challenges and benefits. No excuses after tonight’s game that they were “testing” certain things and “holding back” on options they’ve learned.
4. What will be Elton Brand’s role? It’s evidenced it will be less than what was initially expected upon his signing, but was the pre-season an indication of how many touches and shots Brand is going to get? Throughout the pre-season he was consistently the team’s 3rd or 4th option.
It’ll be interesting to see tonight how many touches the Sixers get him – and not just at the high post, but on the block where he is more comfortable. It didn’t seem he was effective going against a post defender in the preseason. His touch on that jumper of his wasn’t as soft as we’ve seen it. Tonight’s game could be the first chapter in this season’s Elton Brand story. I’ll be curiously following his numbers.
5.The rotation. The pre-season is never conducive to deciphering exactly how a coach plans to use his bench, although I think we received a better glimpse than other teams. It seems Marreese Speights will be the first big man off the bench, Jason Smith right behind him. We’ve seen Jason Kapono come into the games early as well. Willie Green will likely be the first guard off the bench.
We'll be back after the game ...