The NBA season is here. With that in mind, it is time to flip through the book on the 2012-13 season and to take a look at what the season might have in store — especially when it comes to the Magic. Be sure to look out for more of these team capsules and to check out all the blogs taking part in this year's NBA Blog Preview (don't worry, I will be linking to all of them in the next few weeks … months … this preview IS never-ending, afterall).
Last Year: 35-31
This Year vs. Magic: Feb. 4 in Philadelphia (7 p.m.); Feb. 26 in Philadelphia (7 p.m.); March 10 in Orlando (6 p.m.)
Magic Connection: Jason Richardson (player, 2010-2012)
The Previews: Michael Levin/Liberty Ballers
The Magic get a first look at one of their trade partners in the Dwight Howard trade tonight in the preseason opener at Amway Center. They will be down one very key player, perhaps the big player for the entire team:
Andrew Bynum is continuing to rehabilitate his troublesome knee and is sitting out most of the preseason. The 76ers are not sure if he will be ready for the season. And the Magic are probably relieved they did not receive damaged goods and have a completely gutted roster depending on him.
Philadelphia is not a team like that, as I will get to later. Still, Bynum will be the key to this team's success. Much of the hoopla from the trade in Philadelphia was the feeling that Bynum gave the 76ers a bona fide star and a guy the team can truly build around.
The 76ers have waited a long time for that and felt that the group they had last year had kind of run its course. So this presents new challenges and a new team for Doug Collins to tinker with. This is a team that will have a much clearer pecking order than in the last two years. This team will go as far as Bynum can take them.
Bynum certainly senses the opportunity before him. This is his chance to break out on his own.
But he will have plenty of help with this talented 76ers roster. We know what Jason Richardson can do. He is still a decent shooter and a threat from the outside. Just not someone you can rely on as your top perimeter creator. That role falls to young players Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner.
Both had solid seasons last year and made the loss of Lou Williams and Andre Iguodala perhaps a little more palatable. Bringing in Nick Young too should bolster that backcourt.
More importantly, Doug Collins always seems to get the best out of his players and his teams. And they always tend to play strong defense. Bynum will be the anchor and should ahve the motivation to be the team's anchor on both ends of the floor as he is now out of Kobe Bryant's shadow.
Everything revolves around Bynum and what he can potentially provide. This team does not have the same depth as it had before. There is a lot invested in Bynum this year and he can either thrive in his new role in his new city or he could flop. We will not see Bynum tonight, so the Philadelphia team rolling into Orlando will not be the team we see in the regular season.
How the 76ers Will Beat the Magic: Bynum, lots of Bynum. The Magic don't have any 7-footers on the roster and the defense in the paint is going to be a question mark for Orlando. Gustavo Ayon is a solid defender, but can he handle Bynum full time? What about Nikola Vucevic or Glen Davis? Bynum has a big advantage in the paint and if he is playing when Orlando starts its 3-game series in February (he should), matching up with him will be really difficult. Philadelphia and Orlando's perimeter players are closer in terms of talent and ability on paper. The 76ers have the advantage inside and need to take advantage of it.
How the Magic Will Beat the 76ers: I think the Magic's best chances to get wins against the 76ers is to go small. Obviously playing with some pace and some speed before Bynum and the defense can get down the floor is pretty important. Orlando has had a lot of success in the past against Philadelphia with the stretch-4 on the floor. Perhaps that strategy would play well again. Al Harrington is a strong option as a stretch-4 and should be able to match up well with Thaddeus Young. It might just be a "try and outscore them" type game sineae Philadelphia plays slow anyway and Orlando really would have no answer for Bynum.