Backstory: What do the Thunder and Coke cans have in common. The both are crushed under pressure. OKC couldn't keep a lead to save their lives. Fortunately, they shouldn't have to worry about that tonight, because Orlando is far superior, especially without KD. Last I checked, all Orlando starters are averaging over 10 points per game, while the Thunder have yet to find someone to consistently drop over 10, aside from Jeff Green and the Great Longhorned One.
With or without KD, it makes no difference. Aside from last nights insanely good performance, Kevin Durant as been throwing bricks like they were made of tacks. It'll defintiely take some MAGIC, for the Thunder to win tonight (ok, that was bad, I know).
Earl Watson vs. Jameer Nelson
I loved this guy back at St. Joe's, and was secretly cheering for him in the Elite 8 while they were playing OSU (I say secretly because my brothers a Cowboy fan). The Hawks dropped that game, but there's no way Jameer loses this one. His assist number are down somewhat, but hey, who doesn't beat Watson?
Kevin Durant? vs. Mickeal Pietrus
Well, if he plays, he has the edge. If he doesn't, and Russ Westbrook or Desmond Mason gets the start, Pietrus should handle them defensively and get the edge.
Jeff Green vs. Hedo Turkoglu
Edge: the Turk
He's got such a versatile game. Height, shooting, driving, rebounding. Jeff Green will give him a game, but Turkoglu gets the definite advantage.
Nick Collison vs. Rashard Lewis
Rashard plays all over the court, so he shouldn't be in the power forward slot for too long. Dito everything I said praising Hedo for Rashard, except moreso.
Johan Petro vs. Dwight Howard
Let's see...the best center in the NBA or the lowest scoring Thunder starter? I'm noticing a trend of mismatches at this position. Note to Sam Presti: GET A CENTER WHO'S AS TALENTED AS HE IS TALL FOR ONCE!
Battle of the Benches
I'll say Orlando. The Thunder have the best bench player of the bunch, but nobody else is doing well. The Magic don't rely on their bench very much, but at least it isn't full of flops like OKC.
Coaching and Intangibles
Despite a crowd that's sure to be pumped for the game, Stan Van Gundy is a better coach and the Thunder have no momentum going into the game.
Player to Watch: No KD, eh? Here's a stretch, how about Robert Swift for tonight's player to watch. When facing a player like Dwight Howard, I'm sure P.J. will look to get a center more physical than Petro on the floor.
God of Thunder's Pick: Magic 102 Thunder 87
Robert Swift eats babies