By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The 2014-15 NBA regular season gets underway tonight for the Philadelphia 76ers as they visit the Indiana Pacers.
The 76ers will not have the services of reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams in this one as he continues to recover from offseason shoulder surgery. But they will have another key piece in the line-up, and it is someone the fans have been waiting to see.
This game will mark the NBA regular season debut of 76ers big man Nerlens Noel who missed all of last season recovering from a torn ACL.
“I’m real excited,” Noel tells KYW Newsradio. “Still nerves there, but just coming out and playing my game. I’m really going to stay focused tonight and let it play itself out. We have a young team, I know these guys, we all have each other’s back. No matter what, I know we’re going to go out there and have fun and play the game we love.”
While this will be his first NBA regular season game , Noel has spent more than a year with the 76ers since being acquired on draft night in 2013. In addition to recovering from his injury during that time, he also worked on his game.
Listen to the Matt Leon’s whole interview with Nerlens Noel:
“I think I’ve made a lot of progress with my shot,” Noel says. “Coming from Kentucky and not shooting jumpers at all, in any games, to feeling good shooting a jumper in games now. Just continuing to build confidence with that, I think, will definitely help my game.”
The 76ers won just 19 games last season and they aren’t expected to win many more than that this season. But Noel isn’t worried about the gloom and doom predictions.
“There’s very minimal attention to that,” Noel says. “We know the position we’re in of being one of the younger teams in this league. And we accept that. Coach (Brett) Brown’s been doing a great job of really pin-pointing on defense, really getting back in transition defense, because that’s what were really going to have to take pride in, is defending and being an up paced basketball team that can outrun teams.”
Indiana comes into tonight really banged up. Paul George, David West, George Hill and C.J. Watson all will miss the game due to injury, so Noel says the Sixers need to press the issue in this one.
“We have to be able to take advantage of our athleticism and how high paced our offense is,” Noel says. “So we have to get up and down on them.”
The 76ers and the Pacers will tip-off at 7:00 pm.
You can follow Matt on twitter @mattleonkyw.
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