Washington Wizards vs. Oklahoma City Thunder preview (Game 34 of 82)

durant thunder nene gortat wall wizards

  • When: Friday, 02 January 2015 at 7:00 PM CST
  • Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK

I feel like the Oklahoma City Thunder have been on the cusp of being .500 for about a month now. Every time the team gains a little momentum, something (usually an injury) gets in the way. Now, though, they are about as healthy as they have been all year with the possibility of finally reaching .500. After such a tumultuous path, the Thunder seem to be getting back on track at the right time.

This is the first meeting of the season between these two teams. The Thunder and Wizards have split their meetings the last two seasons. Washington DC has been a house of horrors for the Thunder the last 3 seasons, losing all their games in the Beltway.

The Opponent

wall beal wizards

The Washington Wizard currently find themselves with a 22-9 record, good for 3rd in the Eastern Conference. They are a defense-heavy team that can also score. The Wizards, along with the Chicago Bulls, are probably the two most balanced teams in the Eastern Conference. Leading the charge is point guard John Wall, who has turned into one of the better floor generals in the league. He leads the Wizards in scoring (17.4), assists (10.3), and steals (2.1). His backcourt mate, Bradley Beal, is developing into one of the better shooting guards in the game. On the wing, Paul Pierce provides shooting and a calming veteran presence. Up front, Nene and Marcin Gortat are the East’s version of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Nene is the bull strong power forward with a soft touch around the rim and Gortat is the skilled center with nimble feet. Off the bench, veteran Rasual Butler provides the Wizards with sharpshooter, while Kris Humphries is the energetic big man that can gobble up offensive boards.

Probable Starting Line-up

Washington Wizards

  • PG – John Wall
  • SG – Bradley Beal
  • SF – Paul Pierce
  • PF – Nene
  • C – Marcin Gortat

Oklahoma City Thunder

  • PG – Russell Westbrook
  • SG – Andre Roberson
  • SF – Kevin Durant
  • PF – Serge Ibaka
  • C – Steven Adams

3 Keys to the Game

1. Perimeter Defense – John Wall does a great job of breaking down the first line of defense and getting into the paint to cause havoc. It will be up to Russell Westbrook to stay in front of Wall. Also, the Wizards have 5 players that shoot over 36.3% from 3-point territory.

2. Rebounding – Though not a huge part of their game, the Wizards are one of those teams that you don’t want getting 2nd chances. The amount of space their bigs take up help them in getting offensive rebounds.

nene perkins thunder wizards

3. Limit Turnovers – The Wizards aren’t knowing for getting up and down, but they do have one of the more athletic backcourts in the league. If you cough up live ball turnovers, the Wizards will get out and turn defense into offense quickly.

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