Orlando Magic at Oklahoma City Thunder Preview
Tonight, the Orlando Magic (22-31) travel to Oklahoma City to face the Thunder (33-19) for the second time in seven days. The Magic will be looking for revenge after losing to the Thunder 126-117 in Orlando last Tuesday. In that game, the Magic were leading after three quarters, but a late run by the Thunder gave them a relatively comfortable victory.
The Magic are currently riding a two game winning streak after a rough January, and they will be looking to continue their momentum tonight. They currently sit in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, but a crowded mid-tier means a hot streak could put them squarely in the playoff discussion.
In terms of the home team, the Thunder currently sit in third place in the West, but the Trail Blazers and Spurs are lurking close behind. In order to keep home court advantage for the first round of the playoffs, OKC will have to continue to play well and keep winning down the stretch.
Time: 8:00pm ET
Arena: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
Channel: FSFL, FSOK
Orlando Magic Starting Lineup
The Magic are currently on a two game winning streak, with both wins coming against solid Eastern Conference opponents. They now find themselves only three games out of a playoff spot, and many around the organization are hopeful that the team can reach the postseason for the first time since 2012.
Newly-minted all-star Nikola Vucevic is the main reason the Magic have had more success this season than in the recent past. Vucevic was a solid player before this season, but the center has completely changed his game to adapt to an ever-changing NBA. This season, the seven-footer is shooting a ridiculous 37.8% from behind the 3 point line, while also grabbing 12 rebounds per game. The Montenegrin is also averaging a career high in points and assists per game, and he has one of the highest plus/minus numbers in the league. This team definitely depends on their all-star center, and they will need another big night from Vucevic against the Thunder after his 24 point, 12 rebound outing in their last game against the Nets.
After a recent slump, shooting guard Evan Fournier broke out of his funk in the Magic’s last game. Fournier can sometimes be a streaky shooter, and in his previous games, the Frenchman had been ice cold. However, against the Nets, Fournier was able to gain back confidence with a few early buckets, and he finished the night with a solid 16 point outing, shooting over 50% from the field and 75% from behind the 3-point line. Fournier will look to carry this newfound momentum into tonight’s game and put his rough stretch behind him.
Oklahoma City Thunder Starting Lineup
Going into last Sunday’s game against the Celtics, the Thunder had won an impressive seven straight games. However, they narrowly lost a shootout in Boston in their most recent game, 134-129. A wildly entertaining game (by far the most exciting game featuring a Boston team on Sunday), the Thunder were in striking distance towards the end of the game before a Russell Westbrook turnover with eight seconds left sealed the contest for the Celtics.
In the game, the Thunder were once again led by forward Paul George. George, an all-star starter, is having a breakout year, and the Fresno State product currently sits in the midst of the MVP discussion. He is averaging a staggering 27.8 points per game, but even more impressive is the fact that he has only failed to top 30 points once in his last eight games. His hot streak has been a major factor for the team’s recent success, and the Thunder have played well when George puts the team on his back.
Point guard Russell Westbrook, the MVP just 2 years ago, has taken a new role this year for the Thunder as George has established himself as the alpha dog, but Westbrook’s success is still integral to the team’s potential. Westbrook is currently on a streak of 6 straight triple-doubles, but he will need to continue to limit his turnovers if the Thunder want to make a run in the highly competitive Western Conference.
Orlando Magic at Oklahoma City Thunder Betting Odds
The Thunder have opened up as 9.5 point favorites in Oklahoma City for tonight’s game. With such a big line, it’s hard to make a call on this lopsided matchup, and what makes the choice even more difficult is the fact that the Thunder are 13-11 ATS this season at home, but the Magic are also 13-11 ATS on the road. The over-under for the game opened at 224 points, which is far less than the 243 points scored in the last matchup between the teams.
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