By Cody Sharrett – After a long summer of comings and goings, basketball returns to Rip City when the Trail Blazers host the New Orleans Pelicans Wednesday night at Moda Center. Anticipation is in the air as Terry Stotts’ new-look squad takes the court for the first time in the 2015-16 NBA season.

“I don’t know if ‘butterflies’ is the right word, but certainly I think there’s an anticipation and excitement about (the start of the season),” Stotts said after Tuesday’s practice. “When you walk out and the National Anthem, the starting lineups and the crowd’s into it — there’s a lot of energy in the building, and I think everybody gets excited about that.”

The sixth-month long NBA regular season is a grind, but the chance to start the 2015-16 campaign in front of the home fans has Trail Blazers old and new hopeful to get the season started on the right direction. Portland has won 14 consecutive home openers, dating back to October 2000. 

“I may be a little biased, but I think we have the best fans in the league,” fourth-year forward/center Meyers Leonard lauded the Rip City faithful. “They’re there every single night. I think they’re very knowledgeable about the game and they never give up on us. I think we’ve had a really good response to the transition our team is making. I think fans are excited, we’re excited to come and play for them. We just have to bring it every night, because they do it for us.

“Nonetheless, to play at home to start the season, we’ve got to come out tomorrow night and bring it and come out, get a win.”

Center Mason Plumlee, one of nine newcomers on this season’s Trail Blazers’ roster, has been awestruck by the fan support he’s experienced in Portland so far. 

“(The Portland fans) are great,” the Duke product said. “I haven’t had a fanbase that supportive in preseason before, so I’m excited to give them a good season and something to come out and cheer about.”

The New Orleans Pelicans come to Portland on the second night of a back-to-back after facing the defending champion Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night. Center Anthony Davis averaged 23.5 points per game during the preseason, second to only Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard’s 26.0 points per contest in the NBA. 

Fans can catch Wednesday’s game locally on KGW, or on the AM dial on Rip City Radio 620. Tip off is set for 7:00 p.m.

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