USA TODAY Sports
The Magic have won 2 of their last 5, and almost beat the Heat. Is there bark to their bite?
|2012-2013 NBA Season|
|March 15th, 2013|
|Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma|
|7 PM Central Daylight Time|
|Fox Sports Network Oklahoma, Fox Sports Network Florida|
|WWLS the Sports Animal (98.1), AM 580/FM 96.5 WDBO|
|Orlando Magic Daily|
|Previous Meetings: None.|
|Injury Report: Glen Davis (Out), Hidayet Turkoglu (Steroids)|
|Jameer Nelson||PG||Russell Westbrook|
|Aaron Affalo||SG||Thabo Sefolosha|
|Maurice Harkless||SF||Kevin Durant|
|Tobias Harris||PF||Serge Ibaka|
|Nikola Vucevic||C||Kendrick Perkins|
Okay, so admittedly things aren't looking too spicy with the Thunder now facing the Orlando Magic, a team that's won 4 games in the past two months. They gave away one of their prime scorers, J.J. Redick, at the trade deadline, and Glen Davis is out with a fractured left foot. This leaves the Magic with Aaron Affalo and Jameer Nelson, two players who could (and have) started for playoff teams. But the rest of the roster is pretty much a combination of has-beens, prospects, and nobodies.
Somehow, they get it together though, and they so run a consistent strategy. They're a athletic team that can shoot, so they love to rotate the ball around the perimeter and are generally good at passing the ball. They also run a fast pace, taking the 8th most shot attempts per game and sitting 9th in the league in defensive rebounds. The positives of their craft end there though. The team doesn't have a real offensive difference maker, so they have to rely on a committee of role players to carry the scoring load. In theory, it means that they have a lot of options, but in reality, it means that they suffer from horrible inconsistency. They also struggle to get any sort of production from three or the free throw line, especially with Redick gone and Davis out.
It's probably not in Orlando's best interest to win any games at this point, but they have been competitive in the past. Just last week, they were able to push the Heat to the brink, only folding in the face of a last-second LeBron James layup. They've also managed to beat New Orleans and Philadelphia in the past two weeks, even though those two teams are absolutely hitting the crapper right now.
The key to any victory against Orlando is simple. You've got to keep them off the line, and you can't allow them to get any open threes. The only really giant hole in their game is offense, so if you allow them to have a strong attack, they can generally keep up with you in any other category. Given that the Thunder allow open threes a lot, I think the Magic will threaten tonight, but at some point they won't be able to get inside and they'll fall behind.
Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder 102, Orlando Magic 91.