Preview: The Wolves, confident in their ability to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004, meet the Magic, a team embarking on a rebuilding project with rookie shooting guard Victor Oladipo as the cornerstone. Among the Wolves’ questions are whether they can stay healthy and whether the team’s defense can keep pace with its offense. For the Magic, owners of the worst record in the league last season (20-62), measured improvement is the expectation.
Players to watch: The game marks the Wolves debut of Kevin Martin, the tall, sharpshooting off-guard the team has been lacking, the return of Corey Brewer to Minnesota, and the official reunion of the trio of F Kevin Love, PG Ricky Rubio and C Nikola Pekovic. Love averaged 17 points per game in the preseason, Martin 14.4. The Magic is starting the season with Oladipo coming off the bench, playing behind Arron Afflalo. C Nikola Vucevic gives this game two Montenegrin starting centers. Oladipo (13.9) led the team in preseason scoring.
Numbers: This is the 25th season for both teams, who entered the league together in 1989. … The Wolves and Magic finished 20th and tied for 24th, respectively, in scoring last season and were at the bottom of the league in three-point shooting percentage. … This is the 13th consecutive time the Wolves have opened at home, and the team is 9-3 in the previous 12. Overall, the Wolves are 14-10 on opening night.
Injuries: Wolves F Chase Budinger (knee surgery) is out. Orlando F/C Glen Davis (foot) and F Tobias Harris (ankle) are out. G Doron Lamb (ankle) was listed as doubtful for Orlando’s opener against Indiana on Tuesday.