The 2010-11 season is right around the corner. No, it is like literally right around the corner. Training camps open in a few weeks and we can finally stop conjecturing and start making sense of this summer of upheaval. The new season will be much different than the old. So let's start thinking 2011 and all the hope and promise that comes with it.
Jeff Clark of CelticsBlog.com has organized the NBA Blog Preview, consisting of all the best basketball blogs across the Internet, to help everyone get ready. The Magic will be coming up sooner rather than later and the season will be around the corner. I will be trying to keep up and give a Magic-centered look at each team being previewed.
Last Year: 27-55, Missed Playoffs
Last Year vs. Magic: Won 120-106 in Orlando (10/28); Won 126-105 in Philadelphia (3/1); Won 109-93 in Philadelphia (3/22); Won 125-111 in Orlando (4/14)
This Year vs. Magic: Dec. 18 in Orlando (7 p.m.); Jan. 19 in Orlando (7 p.m.); Feb. 9 in Philadelphia (7 p.m.); April 11 in Philadelphia (7 p.m., NBATV)
Magic Connection: Tony Battie (player, 2004-2009)
The Previews: Jordan Sams/Liberty Ballers
What happened to Philadelphia? Seriously. This was the team that nearly had a 3-1 lead on the Magic before they went to the Finals. This was a team that gave Orlando's Eastern Conference Championship team so much problems. What happened?!
Losing Andre Miller does not help. He brought a steady hand to the offense and managed the whole team well, while also creating mismatches against smaller point guards with his strong post-up abilities. But Philadelphia was convinced Lou Williams was their guy and Miller was gone anyway through free agency. So with that piece gone, Philadelphia went from rising young team to just rebuilding young team.
Andre Iguodala has been somewhat exposed as a guy who is not a primary option. Thaddeus Young is too much of a tweener to be effective and Samuel Dalembert is Samuel Dalembert. Or at least he was. Now he is in Sacramento.
The 76ers had almost a complete makeover behind the scenes that included bringing in Rod Thorn as the team's new general manager and Doug Collins as the team's new coach. Dalembert is gone for promising young center Spencer Hawes and Andres Nocioni. Second overall pick Evan Turner will also be an important cog of the team. There are a lot of changes in Philadelphia.
Will it get the 76ers back to the playoffs? Not likely.
Philadelphia is very thin up front despite having a ton of athletes in the backcourt. Collins is known for making his teams better defensively and that should keep Philadelphia in a lot of games. But will this be a running team or half-court team. Miller kept the team from running too much, but also enabled them to run the fast break when the opportunity was there. The roster says this team can break, but the results of last year suggest they need some solidity in the half court and someone who can score while not on the break.
That is the place Philadelphia is stuck right now. So rebuild the 76ers will while they depend on Elton Brand becoming healthy again.
How the 76ers will beat the Magic: Philadelphia will have to use its athleticism and rely on Andre Iguodala a lot to top the Magic.
Iguodala was a key player in Philadelphia's near upset bid in 2009 and he has the talent to be a somewhat dominant player. His defense on a guy like Vince Carter would also be key.
But one thing Philadelphia can do is create mismatches by going big, but still having the ability to run. Thaddeus Young could be a matchup nightmare if he could ever get his head on straight. He is a 6-foot-10 small forward sort of like Rashard Lewis, minus the dead-eye marksmanship. Philadelphia will determine early on if the team wants Young to come off the bench or start. But expect to see a big lineup of Brand, Young and Hawes at some point.
That could be a difficult cover for Quentin Richardson or Vince Carter.
Or the 76ers could go small and try to run the Magic off the court with Brand at center and Young at power forward. Philadelphia may have limited options, but the team doe shave them. And that makes this team dangerous despite the apparent talent gap.
How the Magic will beat the 76ers: Take a healthy dose of Dwight Howard and call me in the morning. Philadelphia still does not have anyone who can adequately guard Dwight Howard and with no real post presence -- I assume Rashard Lewis guards Elton Brand -- Howard can roam on defense and keep players away from the basket. Considering Philadelphia relies on its guard to get penetration and lacks real shooters, that could be a major problem.
And since the 76ers have very few options from beyond the arc -- Jason Kapono is about it -- the Magic's shooting is incredibly important. Even on a night when Orlando struggles from the field, the team should be able to quickly come back if it can hit a few 3-pointers.
Suffice it to say, this is a very good matchup for Orlando.