Current Records: Oklahoma City Thunder (40-11), Orlando Magic (14-37)
Last time they met: Oklahoma City Thunder (101) defeated Orlando Magic (98)
It has been nearly two months since these sides first faced off against each other and in that time a lot has changed. The Oklahoma City Thunder have found their groove winning over 70% of their games, while the Orlando Magic have struggled to find any sort of consistency or form. This is going to be a tough match up for the Magic as they attempt to slow the Thunder and the NBA’s leading scorer – Kevin Durant.
Orlando are coming off a victory against the Detroit Pistons which will give them a little confidence heading into this game. They will again rely on their key personnel Arron Afflalo, Glen Davis and rookie sensation Victor Oladipo. Nikola Vucevic has been very good since returning from an absence due to concussion safety concerns and they will be wanting a big game from him on the interior and on the boards is they are to have any chance.
The Magic have a chance to secure their first four game home win streak since March of 2012 – but the Thunder won’t give this one away. Kevin Durant has shown a complete game over the past month, being named the Western Conference Player of the Month for January and he will be looking to continue his dominance. He has received terrific support from Serge Ibaka and Reggie Jackson who are really coming into their own this season. Orlando will rely on some young kids of their own in Tobias Harris and Moe Harkless – both of whom have shown glimpses of brilliance. They will need to be at their best.
Thabo Sefolosha vs Arron Afflalo
Opponents know what they are in for when they line up against Thabo Sefolosha. He is going to work you over and play you closer than you would like. Every possession, every shot – you really earn. Arron Afflalo is the best player on the Orlando Magic squad and is their leading scorer. He is going to need to break the shackles and find the basket if the Magic are to get the win. On the opposite side of things, Thabo will be trying to ensure Afflalo has a difficult night and can’t get in any sort of rhythm. The Thunder will also need Sefolosha to hit the open jump shot and Jeremy Lamb is also going to contribute from the shooting guard position.
Kevin Durant vs everyone
The scoring champ will no doubt see a number of defenders thrown his way in an attempt to curb his influence on the game. The last time these two teams met, Orlando played Tobias Harris, Moe Harkless and even Arron Afflalo on Durant at times, and history suggest a similar approach will be taken. Durant is super skilled though and can take control of a game in a variety of ways as he has shown over the past week. He has only hit 30+ points in one of his past 3 games after a 13 game streak of scoring 30 or more, but has accounted for a lot more of the Thunder’s overall offensive impact. On the verge of a triple double in his past couple of outings, his game is not one dimensional and the Magic are going to need to stop him in some capacity to get a win.
After a couple of days off and being a pretty good road team, the Thunder are definitely favorites to take the W in this one. The Orlando Magic are at home though and while their record doesn’t suggest it, they have been pretty competitive – especially of late where their losses have come by single digits. Oklahoma City should prove too good defensively and have too much offensive fire power to be really tested by the Magic although we saw a very shorthanded Timberwolves team really push the Thunder for the full four quarters. In the end I think it is more of the same though, Durant will get 30+ and nearly a triple double as OKC take this won pretty easily.