After losing to Oklahoma City Thunder not even a full week ago, Washington Wizards look to avenge that loss, as they host this time, welcoming their opponents into Capital One Arena for an important showdown today (7pm ET Tuesday).
Currently, the Wizards have a tenuous hold on the Eastern Conference’s sixth seed, just one game ahead of the Indiana Pacers in seventh. They are tied record-wise with the Milwaukee Bucks, who sit one seed ahead of them as well. The East is jam-packed with teams within striking distance of those top eight playoffs spots so it’s important for the Wizards to continue to stay on the winning side of things.
The team is coming off a win in this most recent outing but overall has lost six of their last 10. On the plus side of things however, Washington is a strong 15-9 at home, something that could bode well for them in their rematch with OKC.
Speaking of the Thunder, Oklahoma City sits in a decent place, currently fifth in the extremely tough NBA Western Conference. The Thunder have a two-and-half game lead over the New Orleans Pelicans, currently in sixth, and are just a half game back of the Minnesota Timberwolves in fourth.
The Thunder have been playing their best basketball as of late and they will enter this rematch in the midst of an NBA-best eight game winning streak.
Before we get to our Thunder vs Wizards predictions and picks, this betting preview will analyze a few more influences that could decide the outcome.
Wizards Hoping to Avoid Déjà vu Against Thunder
When the two teams met five days ago, they combined for 233 points in a final which saw the Thunder come out on top 121-112, at home. All-star and former MVP, Russell Westbrook, was dominant, especially in the fourth quarter where he went on a run to help break the close game open for the Thunder. Westbrook scored a season-high 46 points (21 of which came in the fourth quarter) on a 19-for-29 shooting performance.
Oklahoma City added five more players who scored in double digits, including two from bench players. Overall, the Thunder bench outscored Washington 29-15. In addition to leading the way with bench scoring, the Thunder were able to control the game by dominating yet another aspect, and perhaps the most important, the turnover battle. OKC had a season-high 16 steals, forcing 23 turnovers in all. This led to 36 of the Thunder’s 131 points.
Washington fell behind early in the game, finding themselves in a 0-10 hole in the first quarter. The team battled back but ultimately OKC always kept control as Washington nipped at their heels. Just as the Wizards would make a run, Oklahoma City would counter with one of their own. This is something, that in the rematch, the Wizards cannot afford to let happen again because they don’t have the personnel to run with OKC basket-for-basket, especially if they get in another early deficit.
Another thing Washington has to do better is when it comes to their play in the paint. The Wizards had no answer for Steven Adams, who killed them on the glass. Adams picked up six offensive rebounds in the first six minutes of the game, converting four into scores. As it would turn out, the Thunder only nabbed six more offensive boards than Washington over the course of the game, but again, it was that early hole that doomed Washington.
The Thunder offense was free to run with extra possessions, which is something no team wants to do when facing Westbrook. A shot-maker extraordinaire, Westbrook having second chance opportunities is rarely going to end well for the opponent.
Over the course of the game, the Thunder scored 60 (nearly half) of their total points, in the paint. The team continued to drive down Washington’s throat and the Wizards had no answer. Thanks to these drives, the Thunder were able to open up a pretty large free throw disparity, shooting 29 (and making 22) compared to just 16 (and 12 makes) for the Wizards.
Winning the free throw battle and the turnover battle is a tough ask for any team to be able to overcome as Washington learned this past week. The Wizards continued to shoot well from beyond the arc, but giving a team half of its points in such high-percentage situations is not a formula for success.
Our Preview’s Thunder vs Wizards Picks & Betting Predictions
At home, the Wizards know they are going to have to do things differently this time around if they hope to knock off the NBA’s hottest team in the Thunder. OKC are currently 3.5 point favorites as well, putting the Wizards in the rare role of being home dogs this season.
Washington has the pieces to defeat the Thunder, and they showed that last week. All-Star John Wall put up 21 and Markieff Morris added another 20. The biggest production however came from Bradley Beal, who almost topped Westbrook for high of the game. Beal scored a season-high 41 points on 15-25 shooting and 6-11 from downtown. Beal added 12 rebounds and seven assists. It was his best game of the year but even then, it wasn’t enough.
That, in a nutshell, is why the Wizards won’t be able to get it done today. Because when you play your best and your best just isn’t good enough, you’ve got to tip your cap. Right now, the Thunder are streaking and no matter what happen, it seems like the Wizards’ best just isn’t good enough right now.
As for our battle with the top U.S. online betting sites, these are our Thunder vs Wizards predictions for this betting preview: