Thunder Set to Face Magic in Last Game of Homestand
Date: Nov. 5, 2019
Tip-Off Time: 7 p.m. CT
Television: Fox Sports Oklahoma
Radio: 98.1 FM WWLS the Sports Animal and the Thunder Radio Network
Thunder StatusComing off one of its strongest performances of the season, the Thunder squares off against the Magic on Tuesday in its final game of its three-game homestand. On Saturday, the Thunder defeated the Pelicans 115-104 in large part thanks to a collaborative effort on both ends of the floor from start to finish. For the second time this season, the Thunder bench combined for over 50 points in the contest. Leading the scoring from the non-starters were Dennis Schröder and Darius Bazley who tallied 17 points each. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led all scorers with 23 points on 8 of 14 from the field and 3 of 5 from the 3-point line. “I thought it was a good team win because everybody contributed. I thought in the end of the third and throughout the beginning part of the third we got really good play from our bench. They did a really, really nice job while they were in there,” said head coach Billy Donovan after the Thunder’s win on Saturday. “Everybody contributed in the win and that was good to see. I think offensively we continue to improve and get better.”
Opponent BreakdownThe Magic touts a bigger than average frontline with a lineup where each starter from its last game against the Nuggets was over 6’7” outside of its 6’3” point guard in Markelle Fultz. Anchoring the front court is center, Nikola Vučević, who averages 16.8 points and 9.8 rebounds per contest and who also has the ability to shoot from behind the arc. Also boasting versatility with size is Evan Fournier who also averages 16.8 points per game and at 6’7” has the ability to play multiple positions on the floor.
“They’ve always done a good job of helping each other, being in good position,” said head coach Billy Donovan. “Offensively, Vučević is a hard matchup because he can play at the front of the rim all the way to the 3-point line as a center. Fournier is obviously a really good scorer. Adding Fultz to their team, (Terrance) Ross coming off their bench, a lot of different people offensively that can create problems,” said head coach Billy Donovan.
So far this season, Orlando has only shot 28.3% from 3-point range but with capable scorers on the floor, the Thunder has to honor the potential that each Orlando scorer has on the floor.
“Probably like a lot of teams this early in the year, I think they’ll be a better shooting team than what they’ve shown at this point in time because there are guys that aren’t shooting at the same level last year than they have for their career, so they’ll get better as they start to get more and more comfortable playing with each other. So just a lot of stuff we will have to deal with on both ends of the floor tomorrow,” said Donovan.
Matchup FocusWhile the Magic features a bigger frontline lead by Vučević, they are also a versatile group. Vučević i has the ability to score both in the paint and stretch the defense as a threat from the perimeter. The Thunder centers will have their work cut out for them to contain his scoring opportunities.
Watch: Game Day Report
Stat to WatchRebounds. With the size the Magic brings into Tuesday’s game, it will be a battle on the boards to see who can own the glass for 48 minutes. The Thunder average 49.7 rebounds per game compared to Orlando’s 46.3. The Thunder will have to communicate and box out to maintain an edge on the glass.
“We’ve got to try to box out and play with good pace. They’ve got Vučević, Gordon, Jonathan (Isaac) too and last game, they started Markelle (Fultz), so big team,” said Chris Paul
Thunder TrendThe Thunder’s own versatile big-man, Danilo Gallinari has posted consistently good numbers for the first six games of the season. Averaging 18 points per game, shooting 43.6% from behind the line and shooting a perfect 100% from the free-throw line, Gallinari’s numbers so far this season are almost identical those of last season with the Clippers.
“Obviously, he makes the game easy because he obviously attracts so much attention and he’s got great size. He’s also got a really good feel,” said Billy Donovan. “Besides the scoring piece of it, to me what’s been most impressive being around him is his IQ and feel for the game. I think it’s really good for us to have two veteran guys that have such a high basketball IQ. Chris’ basketball IQ is really high, and so is Danilo’s.