Thunder @ Wizards preview (Game 51 of 82)

okc logo atWashington-Wizards

  • When: Tuesday, 30 January 2018 at 6:00 pm CST
  • Where: Capital One Arena, Washington D.C.
  • TV: FSOK
  • Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 930 AM (Spanish))
  • Line: OKC -2.5 | O/U – 219

The Set-Up: Consistency was something the Oklahoma City Thunder struggled with early in the season. They’d play like the best team in the world against the likes of the Golden State Warriors, but then lose by 15 to the struggling Dallas Mavericks. The talent on this team is evident, that is for certain. But it’s a talent that consists of veteran alpha scorers. Guys who tend to get bored when the level of competition on the opposite end of the court is not on par with them. 

For every game where Russell Westbrook plays like the opposing team sent death threats to his dog, there’s another game where Westbrook consistently throws lazy passes and puts up a sub 35% shooting night. One of the knocks on Paul George throughout his career is that he coasts against lesser competition, but brings it against the top tier teams. And Carmelo Anthony, honestly, is probably too old to care about lesser beings.

But over the past month, the Thunder have looked more engaged, which has led to a lot more consistency in their play. After being in the bottom third of Offensive Rating for much of the first two months of the season, the Thunder have played their way into the Top 10 in that category. They are now one of three teams, along with Toronto and Golden State, to be Top 10 in both Offensive and Defensive Rating. In addition, they are also
Top 5 in Net Rating. Which is all to say, the Thunder, over the past month to month and a half, have been one of the best teams in the league.

Previous Meeting: Less than a week ago, these two teams met in Oklahoma City with the Thunder coming out victorious 121-112. In that game, Westbrook scored a season high 46 points to go along with six rebounds and six assists.

Looking At The Numbers

1. John Wall – News broke today that Wall will be having a procedure on his knee on Wednesday and will be out 6-8 weeks. This season, Wall has already missed 12 games and the Wizards have gone 6-6 in his absence. As you would imagine, the Wizards’ Offensive Rating and Pace drop significantly when Wall is out of the line-up. The Wizards’ regular O-Rating is 106.9, but when Wall is out, that number drops to 104.1. With Wall in the line-up, Washington’s pace is 99.58 possessions per game. When he’s out, that number plummets to 96.84 possessions per game.

2. Turnovers – Surprisingly, these are two of the better teams at protecting the ball. OKC ranks 9th in the NBA, committing just 14.1 turnovers per game, while Washington comes in at 13th, at just 14.3 turnovers per game. Whoever can enforce their will defensively and cause the other team to commit more turnovers than usual will likely have the advantage in this game.

3. Second-Chance Points – The Wizards are susceptible on the defensive glass, as evidenced by their 23rd ranked Defensive Rebound Percentage and their inability to stop 2nd Chance Points. They give up 13.9 2nd Chance Points per game, which ranks 29th in the league. The Thunder, on the other hand, are the best offensive rebounding team in the league and also top the 2nd Chance point scored per game category.

 

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