Orlando Magic (4-3) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (1-6)
Wednesday, November 12
Oklahoma City, OK
7:00 PM CST
TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma (Cox 37, HD 722)
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM)
Oklahoma City returns home tonight to take on another singular nickname team, the Orlando Magic. The matchup problems are obvious - who is going to defend Dwight Howard?
Howard is an absolute animal in the paint and on the glass. With really the best guy that can match him physically and athletically out (Chris Wilcox) someone will have to fill that void. Nick Collison? Nah. Johan Petro? No thanks. Robert Swift? Yes sir.
Who knows if The Robert can defend Howard. Swift is no one near as athletic as Howard and probably not as strong. But Swift does have a size advantage and honestly, this is a great opportunity to show what the big guy can do and where he's at physically. Expect more minutes from him - I'm guessing about 20-25.
And let me tell you something about The Robert - I hope he turns out to be a star because I desperately want him to be my favorite player. There's nothing more that would satisfy my soul than to strut with a "Swift 31" jersey on my back. But if he doesn't pan out, a "Swift 31" is likely to be headed straight to the Straight Cash Homey Hall of Fame.
In order to win... the Thunder will have to contain Howard and keep him off the glass - as much as possible. Kevin Durant lit the scoreboard for 37 Monday night, but hasn't scored more than 20 at home. Hopefully, feeling a little bit of momentum from Monday, Durant can light the lamp like OG&E. But while KD scoring a bunch of points is needed for a win, he has to get some support from someone. Whether that's Jeff Green, Russell Westbrook or someone else, somebody has to provide some supplementary scoring.
Here's some perfect analysis from Third Quarter Collapse: "The Magic might be able to let Durant go off. They have no other reliable scorers. Of course, speedy rookie point guard Russell Westbrook is the sort of player who would light-up the Magic in the past, but he's shooting poorly (32.4% from the field) to start the season. However, he seems to be the most likely Thunder player, other than Durant, to have a monster game. I'm afraid that speaks more to the Thunder's talent than to the Magic's defense, however."
Tonight, the goal should be win or lose, four quarters of consistent basketball. No five minute stretch of no field goals and 10 consecutive missed shots. No 13-0 run for the Magic. No collapse in the final three minutes if the game is within reach. Focus on playing a full 48 and if you still lose, that's alright, Orlando is a pretty darn good club. I know some think moral victories are dumb, but learning to win is something every team has to do. For a squad as young as the Thunder, you build from the ground up and you better take something with you every night.