When: Thursday, January 25 at 8 p.m. ET
Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Win probability: Washington has a 33 percent chance of winning according to Kevin Broom’s Win Predictor and a 22 percent chance of winning according to FiveThirtyEight.
Wizards: Sheldon Mac (Out, Achilles)
What to Watch for
Which team will perform late?
The Wizards and Thunder are case studies on two very different approaches to taking the next step to title contention.
Washington and Oklahoma City both finished last season with near 50-win teams that didn’t have much flexibility to sign players to get to the next level. The Thunder decided to shake it by trading for Paul George and Carmelo Anthony over the summer, while the Wizards largely stood pat and hoped continuity and development would help them get over the hump.
As it has turned out, neither approach worked all that well. The Thunder are 27-20, the Wizards are 26-21. Neither team has a top-ten offense, despite their All-Star talent, and both teams have bottom-ten net ratings in clutch situations.
This game isn’t a referendum on which approach works, because clearly both have issues, but if things are tight in the closing moments, a win for either side could be the confidence booster they need to get things on track for the rest of the season.
A random moment in Wizards - Thunder history: Bradley Beal’s dagger his rookie year
Bradley Beal’s rookie season got off to a rough start thanks in part to Joh,n Wall missing the start of the season with a knee injury. Slowly, he learned to adapt, and he showed off his full repertoire against the Thunder, in the team’s last game before Wall returned to the lineup. Beal finished with 22 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and this game-winning shot to help the Wizards take down the defending Western Conference champions.