Orlando Magic vs Oklahoma City Thunder: Lineups, preview & prediction 2/26/18
Fresh off their humiliating defeat at the hands of the Warriors, the Thunder will look to get back on track against the struggling Magic.
Another game, another loss for the Orlando Magic (18-41). The Magic dropped their fifth game in a row in a 116-105 defeat on the road to the Philadelphia 76ers. After a rough first outing upon his return from a hip injury, Aaron Gordon bounced back with a strong night as he went for 20 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists. Evan Fournier had 16 points, while Nikola Vucevic added 15 points, nine rebounds, two steals, and two blocks.
Next up for the Magic is a visit to Oklahoma City, where they will face the Oklahoma City (34-27). The Thunder are coming off their own big road defeat as they were completely rocked by the Golden State Warriors, 112-80. It was a miserable night offensively for the Thunder, who went just 33 percent from the floor as a team. Their Big Three of Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony were the main culprits as they went a combined 11-of-47. George was especially horrific as he went just 1-of-14 from the field.
Three keys to the game
Homecourt advantage – The Thunder may have lost three of their last four home games, but they will still be a formidable foe on their own floor. They should be a particularly good bet to snap that recent skid when they take on a Magic team that’s got the worst road record in the league at 7-24.
Thunderous reaction – OKC should be plenty motivated to bounce back immediately following their embarrassing defeat at the hands of the Warriors. George, in particular, will be eager to get back on track after having one of his worst performances of the year.
Orlando offense – The Magic actually came out on top in their first meeting against the Thunder at home as they won 121-108. However, that win needed strong performances from at least three players, not to mention a tremendous 40-point effort from Aaron Gordon. The Magic offense will likely need to hit that sort of level in order to leave OKC with an upset win.
Matchup to watch
Nikola Vucevic vs Steven Adams – Vucevic got the better of his matchup with Adams, who had just six points and eight rebounds in 28 minutes in their first meeting. Vooch’s offense is vital to the Magic, so it’s important for Adams to do a better job of containing his center counterpart this time around.
Magic projected starting lineup
PG – DJ Augustin | SG – Jonathon Simmons | SF – Evan Fournier | PF – Aaron Gordon | C – Nikola Vucevic
Thunder projected starting lineup
PG – Russell Westbrook | SG – Alex Abrines | SF – Paul George | PF – Carmelo Anthony | C – Steven Adams
As mentioned earlier, Gordon had a monster fantasy night against the Thunder earlier in the season. Aside from his 40 points, he also added 15 rebounds, four assists, four steals and a block. He certainly looked back to his best against the Sixers, which bodes well for his chances of lighting up the Thunder again. Meanwhile, Vucevic has also impressed since his return. In two games, he’s been putting up 17.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, and 2.0 steals.
As for the Thunder, Westbrook had 37 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, and five steals in a losing effort against the Magic. He should like his chances of wreaking havoc against a Magic defense which has been unable to corral opposing point guards. Meanwhile, George is an obvious bounce-back candidate following his gruesome game against Golden State. Prior to that stinker, George had been one of the hottest players in the league, averaging well over 27 points and over two steals for the past month.
The Thunder haven’t been particularly trustworthy when it comes to the spread recently; they’re just 3-7 ATS in their last ten games. But still, they should be fired up following that beatdown against the Warriors. Moreover, it’s tough to expect too much resistance from the Magic, who just lost by double digits to the Sixers in their last road game. Take the Thunder to cover as ten-point home favorites.
The Thunder don’t mess around as they blow out the Magic, 110-95.
This game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Oklahoma and Fox Sports Florida. Tip-off is at 8:00 pm Eastern.