Tip-Off: 6 PM CDT
Location: Amway Center (Orlando, FL)
Television: FSOK, NBA TV
Radio: The Sports Animal
Twitter: Follow @TheThunderGuys for live-tweets during the game
Player to Watch
G Evan Fournier is having his best season yet in his short 5-year career despite the Orlando Magic being a disappointment for much of the year. Fournier is averaging a career-high 16.9 points while shooting 43.7% from the field, a career-low 34.5% from three, and 79.6% from the free throw line. He is also averaging career-highs in assists (3.0 per game) and rebounds (3.2 per game). In his lone meeting with the Thunder this season, Fournier scored an efficient 21 points on 7/10 (70%) shooting from the floor, including 3/4 (75%) from three, and 4/4 (100%) from the free throw line while handing out 5 assists and grabbing 2 rebounds. Fournier is a consistent double-digit scorer, and he has scored at least 20 points on 25 different occasions, so Andre Roberson will likely be responsible for locking him up.
Keys to the Game
- Defend Consistently: Overall, Oklahoma City has had a pretty solid defense, but while they often show flashes of brilliance, they also have plenty of failures. A big part of the letdown side of things has to do with the inexperience off the bench, but excuses will not keep opponents from scoring points. Orlando is one of the worst shooting teams in the NBA. The Magic shoot 44.1% from the field (28th in the NBA) and 32.3% from three (30th in the NBA), so if the Thunder plays consistent, focused defense, shutting Orlando down should not be a problem.
- Work Inside: When the Thunder is able to establish an inside presence, they excel in other areas of the game as well. The Magic allow teams to score 46.0 points in the paint (24th in the NBA), and the Thunder averages a league-best 50.1 points in the paint. If Oklahoma City can get physical with Orlando down low, the Thunder will be able to find success and free up shooters to get solid looks.
- Bench Success: Oklahoma City’s second unit was absolutely terrible against the Dallas Mavericks on Monday, so they need to have a solid showing tonight to prove that they are capable of success. Enes Kanter had a good game against the Magic earlier in the season, so the Thunder will need him to show up ready to go tonight. With playoffs on the horizon, there is no better time than now for bench players to step up and find a consistent role on a team that desperately needs a reliable spark when Russell Westbrook steps off the court.
Article written by Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.