Thunder (40-11, 18-8 road) vs. Magic (14-37, 11-14 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 109.9 (5th), Magic – 100.8 (26th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 101.9 (4th), Magic – 106.7 (18th)
Pace: Thunder – 95.1 (10th), Magic – 94.1 (16)
The Thunder should win this game. The end.
(OK, not the end, because there’s supposed to be more.)
I look at this game this way, though: A win makes three straight, and now 13 of 14. With a home game against the Knicks on Sunday, then two road games in Portland and against the Lakers, there’s a strong chance OKC takes a stretch of 16 of 18 into the All-Star break. And a record of 43-12 (that Blazers game could be tough). But that’s only assuming they handle their business against a team like the Magic.
The Thunder won 60 games last season which seemed like a major achievement. But there’s an opportunity for them to push that to somewhere close to 65 if they beat the teams they should. The way they’ve survived this stretch without Westbrook, they’ve set themselves up nicely for the top seed and the best record in the league.
But you just can’t go dropping games you should win, like tonight.
Three Big Things
1. Glass. Nikola Vucevic is a terrific offensive rebounder that plays with a ton of energy. If the Thunder doesn’t mind the boards, they could look at giving up 15 or more offensive rebounds, which against a young team like this, those extra possessions matter quite a lot.
2. Afflalo. He’s the big threat. While Victor Oladipo is good, and Jameer Nelson can score in isolation a little, Afflalo is the guy that can really roast you. Plus, for all of you dreamers, maybe it’s a night to wonder what it would be like to have him in OKC’s starting five.
3. Reggie. Can he play back-to-back good games?
Tip at 6:00 CT. Go Magical Thunder.