This also counts as an open thread, so feel free to post your thoughts during the game here.
Time: 6 PM Central Standard Time
Place: The Ford Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma, Sun Sports
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1)
Enemy Blog(s): Third Quarter Collapse, The Puns Are Starting to Bore Me
Backstory: The Orlando Magic (and, most importantly, Adonal Foyle) are coming to the Ford Center. They come with a 5-1 record, their only loss being to Detroit, a team we beat. Nevertheless, the Magic have high expectations of them this season, and rightfully so.
If you've been under a rock since last season, then you don't know that the Magic lost Hedo Turkoglu to Free Agency, and gained Vince Carter. That, with the additions of solid NBA journeymen Matt Barnes and Brandon Bass and old star Jason Williams have made many people think the Magic can contend for a title again. The signs this year, at least so far, have pointed to the fact that they can. Solid wins against Philadelphia, New Jersey, Toronto, and Phoenix have proven that they are definitely in the "good" category, but coming back to beat Detroit after a horrible night against them earlier in the week has proved that they are an elite team, especially without Rashard Lewis. And beating the Thunder here would only be another stop in the road.
Below: Matchups, Prediction
Center: Nenad Krstic vs. Dwight Howard
Heh. Good Luck? Dwight Howard will dominate Krstic. He's athletic enough to compete with Krstic on the outside, and can easily outscore him, outrebound him, and outdefend him. It's looking like a 3rd straight bad night for Krstic.
Power Forward: Jeff Green vs. Ryan Anderson
And, good luck to Ryan Anderson. He might be solid, but Jeff Green is clearly the better player. He might even outrebound Anderson. Thus, the greatness of Dwight Howard could potentially be off set by the greatness of Jeff Green.
Small Forward: Kevin Durant vs. Matt Barnes
I've watched Matt Barnes play for a long time, and while he's solid, he's no match for Kevin Durant. Easy win for the Thunder here, unless Barnes and his ugly jumper go absolutely insane.
Shooting Guard: Thabo Sefolosha vs. Mickael Pietrus
Two defensive specialists go at it. There's no telling who wins, I suspect it will be whoever makes the most 3 pointers. Sefolosha will have to watch out for Pietrus in the corner.
Point Guard: Russell Westbrook vs. Jameer Nelson
This is what the game hinges on, in my opinion. Two great Point Guards, both with the potential to score and dish out a great assist. Who scores more will depend on if Russell Westbrook can find a way around Dwight Howard in the post, and whether Jameer Nelson can get hot on the perimeter. I'd suspect Nelson gets the slight edge, but ho knows.
Battle of the Benches
We have similar benches....veteran point guards (Williams and Ollie), young scorers (Redick and Harden), and tough, inside bangers (Krstic, Collison, Bass, and Gortat). Still, you have to go with the Magic here. Williams was way better than Ollie in his day, Redick is more proven than Harden, and the big men look pretty equal.
Coaching and Intangibles
The Magic are early in the season, so they might let this one slip past them, especially with Lewis gone. And, the Thunder are at home, and looking to come back from a 3 game losing streak. The intangibles are on our side, but is that enough?
If there was a night to beat the Magic, this would be it. Early in the season, without Rashard Lewis, without Vince Carter, and being at home.
Prediction: Thunder 97, Magic 93
We finally take advantage of a huge opportunity, and come out with an essential win. Now, if you don't mind, I'm jetting to the Ford Center.
How do you think the game will go? Vote in the Poll!
And, again, feel free to drop any comments you might have during, before, or after the game below. I'll be in the Ford Center cheering the team on, but I'll be back to write a recap later tonight. Go Thunder!