While the Major League Baseball season may be finishing up tonight, the 2014-15 NBA campaign gets under way this evening with a trio of games.
The defending champion San Antonio Spurs kick things off as they take on former Florida Gator Chandler Parsons and the new-look Dallas Mavericks. Also in the West, Kobe Bryant returns to the court for his 19th season as the Los Angeles Lakers host the Houston Rockets.
In the East, the Orlando Magic will try to build on their youth movement after a dismal 23-59 record in last year. Head coach Jacque Vaughn will look for center Nik Vucevic and explosive second-year guard Victor Oladipo to lead the way for the Magic; however Oladipo will be sidelined for about another month with a facial fracture. Rookie point guard Elfrid Payton (Louisiana-Lafayette) will likely get plenty of minutes in reserve.
“Just have to be as ready as possible at any time to do whatever’s asked of me, and help the team at a high level,” Payton said.
Orlando pays a visit to New Orleans tonight to take on the Pelicans, who are led by an emerging superstar in Anthony Davis. In two meetings against the Magic last season, Davis averaged 24 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks. Orlando will need to counter Davis’ talent with tough team defense — they ranked second in opponent field goal percentage during the preseason.
“I thought we got better in preseason and we were able to find a good identity for ourselves,” forward Tobias Harris said. “It’ll be good to get out there and have a great attitude in this first game.”
Former Gator Patric Young, who was not selected in the 2014 NBA Draft, was able to make the Pelicans roster and will make his debut this evening. Tipoff from Smoothie King Arena is set for 8pm.
To hear sound from Payton and Harris, click here: