The experts have spoken. Vegas oddsmakers, too. Computers even weighed in with intricate simulations.
Just about everyone envisions tough times ahead for the
On Friday night, the team will have its first opportunity to prove people wrong. The Magic will open their 2012-13 regular season against the
"That lack of expectations is a great incentive for us to get out there and compete and be at our best — and do it with a chip on our shoulder," swingman
Everyone, it seems, has something to prove.
The remade roster features four rookies and three second-year players.
The rotation includes a trio of mid-twentysomethings — Afflalo,
"What matters is what's going on in this locker room and in this organization," Nelson said. "We have to believe that we are good enough to win games and get better every day and not listen to the negative things or the positive things, because at the end of the day none of it matters."
One ESPN.com analyst recently predicted the Magic will go 16-66 in the season ahead. A gambling website set the over/under on Orlando's win total at 23½. And Basketball Prospectus' computerized prediction system, SCHOENE, forecasts that the Magic will win 26 games.
The Magic faced similar doubts when
That Orlando team posted a 4-8 regular-season record without its superstar, but the remaining players rallied around each other and arguably played with more heart than they had before. They nearly upset the
In the playoffs, they fell to the
Although the Magic allowed
But that's the most optimistic prediction.
"Doubters fuel the energy of believers," Davis said. "Doubters spark the ignition. They give us fuel to every day go out there and say, 'Let's prove them wrong.' "
The matchup against the Nuggets could set the tone for the entire season.
"Especially with a young team, a lot of times what happens is if you hit a rough patch, you give in a little bit, whereas guys who've been in this league awhile know that the rough patch is inevitable," Redick said.
"The good teams and the good groups — the groups with character — generally respond in a very positive way when the rough patch hits. So that's going to be the challenge."
On Friday night, the new-look Magic will start revealing their character.