The Verizon Center opens its doors tonight for the Wizards' home opener against the 76ers, but I can't help and picture the future. Imagine, just a few months from now, this same arena -- this same team! -- could actually be hosting an NBA playoff game.
That's really what tonight is about: the hopeful beginning of something special in Chinatown over the next few months.
Where and when? 7:00 p.m. tip. Comcast SportsNet will broadcast the game.
What happened last time these teams played? The Sixers officially ended Washington's playoff bid last season with an 11-point win.
Are they good? No. Quite frankly, you should totally ignore what happened Wednesday against the Heat, because this Philadelphia team will be terrible. As intriguing as rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams and former No. 2 pick Evan Turner might be, this roster was never put together to win games in 2013 -- eventually, hopefully tonight, that failure-by-design reveals itself.
Why should I care? Home opener. If you're in the D.C. area, you could actually buy a ticket and watch Wizards basketball live in a few hours. You shouldn't be reading this site if you don't care.
Who's out? Unsurprisingly, Philadelphia will be without Jason Richardson, Arnett Moultrie and rookie Nerlens Noel for Friday's game. All three players aren't expected back until January at the earliest. Meanwhile, Kwame Brown is day-to-day for Philly after missing the team's season-opener. For the Wizards, Otto Porter and Chris Singleton remain sidelined, while Nene is a gametime decision.
What are they good at? Entering the season, nobody expected Philadelphia to be good at anything, but Friday's game revealed some areas where the Sixers may challenge some teams. Specifically, the team's perimeter defenders -- Carter-Williams, Turner, James Anderson, Tony Wroten -- are all big, lanky guys who can really cover space without compromising things in the post. Obviously, we'll see how coach Brett Brown organizes everything, but the 76ers recorded 16 steals against Miami in their win -- if Randy Wittman is worried about turnovers, Philadelphia may be challenging in that regard.
What are they bad at? Most basketball-related activities. While the team got lucky by hitting 54 percent of its shots against the Heat, that's almost certainly an outlier. Turnovers should be a constant issue for a team under a rookie guard still learning the ropes (although MCW only had one on Wednesday), while the lack of depth should quickly become a theme over the long season.
Will Marcin Gortat make his first Wizards start tonight? Maybe? Over the past year-plus, Wittman has mastered the skill of saying a lot while saying nothing at all. Gortat came off the bench in his debut Wednesday night, but it's hard to imagine Wittman keeping him in a reserve role for long. Don't be surprised if Gortat's name is announced along with Wall, Beal, Nene and Ariza.
Want to read the 76ers' perspective? Visit Liberty Ballers.
Who's going to win? Everything points the Wizards' way in this one, from the opening night atmosphere to the low odds Philadelphia can repeat its effort after beating Miami. Unless the entire basketball world is severely underestimating this Sixers team, the Wizards should be 1-1 by Saturday morning.