Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Orlando Magic: 2011-2012 Game 1 Preview; Merry Christmas Thunder Fans

GAMETHREAD tonight at 7! Be there or be square!

Records: The Orlando Magic (0-0) at The Oklahoma City Thunder (0-0)

Time: 7:00 PM Central Standard Time

Place: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

TV: Entertainment Sports Programming Network, Fox Sports Network Oklahoma, Sun Sports

Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1), WDBO AM 580

Enemy Blog(s): Orlando Pinstriped Post

Previous Meeting(s): None.

Analysis: It's Christmas Day, and the Thunder have eeked into the primetime schedule. Sure, we don't get the glorious mid-day ABC matchup against the Heat, but that's all the better. Everyone will have time to enjoy the holiday before getting back to work against the Magic.

It's been a long off-season, marked by many significant events. Nationally, it was a circus. We saw back and forth negotiations. Michael Jordan turning into a villain. Columnists writing really angry essays. And, most of all, it was a Summer that everyone will completely forget about once action tips off today. On the Thunder front, it wasn't too eventful. Nate Robinson peed near a Barnes and Noble. Kendrick Perkins fought outside of a night club. Kevin Durant tore up the Summer Leagues. And we traded for some guy named after a Lazer.

But now, we can finally get back to talking about basketball. We've spent enough time talking about the Thunder, and their lineup will look virtually identical to what it was during the playoffs, plus a Daequan Cook beard. So, what's gone on with the Magic?

Below: Breaking Down the Magic, How the Game Will Go, Prediction!

Well, Dwight Howard has become disgruntled. He's become "sick" of his team not being able to surround him with championship level talent, and he wants to leave Orlando for greener pastures. The result has been nearly every team in the NBA going on a Dwight Howard hunt, with the team he lands on certain to become a contender.

Meanwhile, Orlando itself is looking pretty mediocre. They waived Gilbert Arenas, and their only notable re-signing was Jason Richardson. They made a mostly tit-for-tat trade in the way of Brandon Bass for Glen Davis, but it doesn't really change their team a whole lot. They're still a team without a legitimate bench, without a legitimate passing partner for Howard, and without a second legitimate post scoring threat. I know, Jameer Nelson and Glen Davis are capable, but they're not at the level Dwight Howard would like, and they don't have overly talented backups. Meanwhile, Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson are the definition of overpaid swingmen.

But while Dwight Howard is on the roster, the Magic are still a significant Eastern Conference threat. And if their games against the Thunder last year were any indication, this will be a high-scoring frenzy. I know, the Magic haven't played against the new-look Thunder, but I don't think the addition of Kendrick Perkins will spell doom for Dwight Howard. He'll just score 30 instead of 40, and the Magic will look to their guards who will start raining down threes on everyone.

Still, somehow I think that our new post presence has us tailor-made to face against teams like the Magic. Sure, there's always the risk of foul trouble, but I think our improved help defense will help us defend the lane against quick drives from athletic wings, while keeping us guarded against post dump-offs between Davis and Howard. Couple that with Howard's disgruntlement because of the potential trade, and I think that equates to a early and relatively easy win for the Thunder.

Let's celebrate Christmas with a win!

Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder 112, Orlando Magic 103

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