Orlando Magic (5-1, 2-1 road) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (2-3, 1-2 home)
View from the enemy: Orlando Magic Daily
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 99.4 (25th), Magic – 118.0 (1st)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 99.8 (6th), Magic – 107.7 (19th)
Pace: Thunder – 90.5 (26th), Magic – 92.1 (19th)
The Thunder’s lost three in a row and staring a fourth straight in the face. Let’s be honest, I don’t think many of us have aspirations of winning this one. The Magic aren’t necessarily better than the Lakers, but it’s just a far worse matchup for Oklahoma City. And the thing about playing Orlando is that they can physically dominate you. Dwight Howard can and absolutely will own the paint tonight, but with their 3-point proficiency and inside-out ability, this is just bad match all around. I mean, how could you forget Howard’s triple-double last year in Oklahoma City?
OKC is a jumpshooting team with little to no post presence. Orlando is a jumpshooting, slash and kick team with a big time post presence. So if the jumpers aren’t falling for the Thunder, it could get ugly. There likely won’t be the bailout of Russell Westbrook driving the paint for buckets or counting on Kevin Durant to get points in the paint. OKC has to hit on all cylinders. Instead of trading off on good shooting nights, it would be nice if Nenad Krstic, KD, Westbrook and Jeff Green could all put it together.
There is one important one to me: Etan Thomas against Howard. Krstic might not even start tonight for all I know, because I’m sure Scott Brooks is planning on trying to use the much more physical Thomas on Howard. Thing is, Thomas is exactly the type of player that could get under Howard’s skin and take him out of his game. As always, I really like Thabo matching up with J.J. Redick, who is playing for the always injured Vince Carter. Redick wants to shoot and that plays into Thabo’s very long arms.
Mickael Pietrus is a solid defender than will guard Durant well, but Pietrus is also a threat to score. Plus, the always nasty Matt Barnes is waiting behind Pietrus. And Ryan Anderson – who is playing very well for the suspended Rashard Lewis, is hurt with a sprained ankle. So it’s Brandon Bass versus Jeff Green. Green actually has the advantage in the post and that might be somewhere OKC can look for points. Of course Howard will be waiting to crash and help, but since Uncle Jeff is a good passer, maybe the Thunder can find some easy dunks inside drawing and dishing.
The Magic normally have four guys in the starting five that can knock down open 3s, have great depth off the pine and of course, have Dwight Howard. Unless Kevin Durant goes nutszo tonight, I don’t have high hopes. But then again, just nine healthy bodies for the Magic… maybe there is some hope. Maybe I’m just thinking too much about last season’s domination. Thankfully though, after this OKC gets a few winnable games back on the docket.
Tip at 6:00 CST. Go Thun-dahhh.