Wizards vs Thunder preview: Playing with house money

Rob Carr

The Washington Wizards are playing the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight. Here's what you need to know.

It really doesn't even matter what the outcome is, tonight's Wizards game is going to be a hoot to watch. The Oklahoma City Thunder are obscenely likeable and fun to watch, John Wall is going Super Saiyan every night and, despite injuries, Washington continues to win a decent number of games. Better yet, Washington has already beaten the Thunder once this year, so even if they lose by 50, the worst you can say about them is they split a season series with the best team in the West.

Where and when? Tip off is at 8 p.m. in Oklahoma City.

Are they good? They're going to be a top three team in the NBA for at least another five years and it's not inconceivable that their best player is remembered as a top ten player in NBA history.

Who's out? Oklahoma City is healthy. For the Wizards? Take it away, @WashWizards.

Why should I care? John Wall is playing like a franchise player and the Thunder are at worst the second best team in the league. If the Heat are the nWo, Durant and Westbrook are Sting and Goldberg.

What are they good at? They've already won 52 games with the NBA's second-best offense and its fifth-best defense, so obviously they're doing something right. In particular, the Thunder are incredible when they post up or go one on one, ranking second in the NBA in points per possession in those situations according to MySynergySports.com. That tends to happen when you have two oversized, physical scorers who no one can stop and have the work ethic to develop a post game.

What are they bad at? It's nit-picking, but Oklahoma City is only 18th in the NBA at defending players coming off screens and turns the ball over on a greater percentage of their possessions than all but one other teams. Believe it or not, these two things are related. Oklahoma City is a huge team with a 6'10+ small forward, two 6'7 shooting guards and a 6'4 point guard. As a result of everyone on the team regularly being two or three inches taller than the person they're matched up against, they tend to lose quicker players coming off of screens and to get their pockets picked a lot, especially when they drive to the basket.

What typically happens when John Wall meets Russell Westbrook? The same thing that happen to every first or second year point guard when they go up against a similar player who's two or three years older: Westbrook got the better of him. Wall's better, more established, and probably more confident in his game now, so if he's ever going to outplay Westbrook, tonight could be the first night.

Where else can I read about the Thunder? Check out Welcome to Loud City.

What are your thoughts and predictions for tonight's game? Vote in our poll and sound off in the comments section!

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