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Open Thread and Contest: Game 66

Regular Season Game 66
Wizards (36-29) vs. Supersonics (26-40)
Key Arena
10 PM

Previous Results: Wizards 118, Sonics 108.

After yesterday's infuriating loss, the Wizards travel even further north to take on the Sonics tonight.

The Wizards won the last game between these two teams, but you might as well toss it out.  Caron Butler scored 38 points in that game, and he's not going to play tonight.  Seattle was also playing without Rashard Lewis, who is exactly the type of player the Wizards really struggle to match up with.  

Seattle's interesting, because while they're well below .500, they have been a pretty decent team with all their players healthy.  Their downfall has been close games.  Nearly half (18) of their 40 total losses have come in games decided by six points or less.  As we all know, this indicates a team that is probably better than their record indicates, because, as Kevin Pelton notes, there isn't a great difference between a good team's record in close games and a bad team's record.

Good teams win close games more frequently than bad teams, but the difference is not as dramatic as it is for games decided by at least six points. This makes sense conceptually. Think of the difference between the one-and-done NCAA Tournament and the best-of-seven NBA postseason in terms of upsets. The better team comes up empty far more frequently in the NCAA (occasionally, like Wisconsin or Texas, ruining your bracket in the process) because the series is shorter. Anything can happen in a single-elimination tournament, and the same is true of the last five minutes of a close game.

That's not to say that winning close games is exclusively a factor of luck.  The Wizards, for example, played very poor defense on Brandon Roy down the stretch last night, and that's something that, if corrected, probably will lead to a win.  But over the long run, the more games played, the more a team's ability to win close games regresses back to the mean.  There are simply too many factors within a basketball game that can affect the outcome in a close game.

Seattle has talent, but they are awful defensively.  They are ahead of the Wizards in defensive efficiency, but not by much, ranking 25th to the Wizards' 28th.  That means the Wizards should score plenty, and with Luke Ridnour checking Gilbert Arenas, it should be a bounce back game for Agent Zero.  It's the other end of the court where the Wizards should struggle.

Basically, expect a close game between a team that has been lucky in close games (the Wizards), and a team that has not (Seattle).  Luck swings, so that predicament isn't so promising.

Sonics blogs: Supersonicsoul, Sonics Central.

Your lines for tonight:

Wizards at Sonics: Sonics by 3.5.
Over/Under on Big 2: 48.6 points.

This is an open game thread, so any comments on Chris Wilcox's two years as a Maryland Terrapin go here.

Update [2007-3-21 13:52:1 by Pradamaster]: New poll, be sure to vote.

Update [2007-3-21 21:12:52 by Pradamaster]:: Per Sonics Central, it appears Ray Allen is going to be out for tonight's game. All the more reason this should be a win.