The Wizards take on the Oklahoma City Thunder Monday night at the Verizon Center in what figures to be an up and down affair. Although the Wizards have been close in previous games, it’s been three years since Washington has defeated Oklahoma City.
After a tough loss to the Cavaliers and squeaking by the Nets, the Wizards seemed to regain their footing against the Pacers on Friday and will be looking to send the Wizards’ faithful off with one last home win before the All-Star break.
Oklahoma City, on the other hand, has had quite the week. The Thunder knocked off the Cavs on their home floor only to get blown out in a much-hyped revenge game against the Golden State Warriors and Kevin Durant on Saturday. It’ll be interesting to see if the Thunder have moved past that emotional game or if they experience somewhat of a hangover.
When: Monday, February 13th at 8:00 p.m. ET
Where: The Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
Radio: 1500 AM and Wizards Radio App
Wizards: None (!)
Thunder: Enes Kanter (Out, Forearm)
What to watch for
There’s one stat that jumped right out at me between these two teams and it’s three-point shooting. The Wizards rank seventh in the NBA knocking down 36.9 percent of their shots from deep, while the Thunder make just 32.1 percent of their deep shots, the second-worst mark in the league. Outside of a few guys who play very limited minutes, the Thunder’s best three-point shooters are Victor Oladipo and Russell Westbrook who shoot 35.5 percent and 33.8 percent respectfully from distance.
If Otto Porter can get going early and Bradley Beal continues to knock down threes, that could be the difference in the Wizards knocking off the Thunder for the first time in three years.
Battle of the point guards
For those who like to debate who the fastest player in the NBA is, this matchup between John Wall and Russell Westbrook is for you. Westbrook, a triple-double machine, is a blur on the court and seems to have endless amounts of energy no matter the circumstances. Wall, also a blur on the court, has another opportunity to prove on national television that he belongs amongst the NBA’s best point guards.
Keep an eye out on who brings more intensity on the defensive end between the two, as that might be the difference in who wins this game.
Get ready for a track meet
The Thunder and Wizards rank 3rd and 6th respectfully in fast break points; mainly because, both teams have really, really fast point guards. If the Wizards are going to win the fast break point battle, they’ll need to clean up their live ball turnovers. Washington still turns the ball over too much and their live-ball turnovers often result in easy baskets for the other team. Westbrook is already great in transition. There’s no need for Washington to give him additional opportunities to get out on the break.
Most Likely Wizards Killer: Victor Oladipo
Oladipo has had some nice games against the Wizards in the past but this will be his first time in Washington in a Thunder jersey. His previous matchups against Bradley Beal have always been fun to watch and don’t forget, this is a homecoming for Oladipo as he’s from the DMV area.