Tip-Off: 7 PM CST
Location: Verizon Center (Washington, D.C.)
Television: TNT, FSOK
Radio: The Sports Animal
Twitter: Follow @TheThunderGuys for live-tweets during the game
Player to Watch
G Bradley Beal is having a career year so far in his 5th season with Washington, and he is a big reason for the Wizards’ current success. Washington struggled in the first half of the season, but they have won 9 of the last 10 games and 16 of the last 19. Beal is currently averaging 22.3 points shooting 46.9% from the field and 81.5% from the free throw line, all career highs. He’s also averaging 3.7 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game. Perhaps what Beal is best known for is his 3-point shooting. He averages 7.2 3-point attempts per game, which is 8th in the league, and he’s making 39% of them. When the Wizards visited Oklahoma City on November 30th, Beal shot 4/10 (40%) from three as he led Washington in scoring with 31 points. Keeping Beal in check will be key for the Thunder to come away with a victory on the road.
Keys to the Game
- Interior is Important: Oklahoma City ranks 3rd in the NBA in rebounding with 46.1 boards per game and 2nd in points in the paint with 49.6 per game. Washington, however, is 19th in rebounds with 43.3 per game and 10th in points in the paint with 44.6 per game. In the first meeting between the Thunder and the Wizards, Washington was able to force overtime due largely to outscoring the Thunder 56-52 in the paint and out-rebounding them 48-47. Steven Adams needs to be a focal part of the Thunder’s game plan, and based on how he has been playing lately, he could have a big game.
- Stop the Three: The Thunder struggled to protect the perimeter on Saturday against the Warriors, allowing Golden State to make 13/31 (41.9%) from beyond the arc, and while the Wizards are not quite as proficient from deep, they still make an impressive 36.9% of their attempts from three (7th in the NBA). Fortunately for the Thunder, the Wizards only attempt 23.9 threes a game, which is 23rd in the league. Protecting the perimeter and forcing Wizards to try other methods of scoring will be key to playing solid defense and getting out of Washington with a win.
- Control the Tempo: Both the Thunder and the Wizards are good teams in transition on both sides of the ball. Oklahoma City is 2nd in fast break points with 17.1 per game, while Washington is 6th with 15.2. Defensively, the Thunder allows only 11.3 fast break points per game (4th in the NBA), while the Wizards allow 11.8 (8th in the NBA). In the first matchup in Oklahoma City, the Thunder absolutely dominated the transition game scoring 25 fast break points to the Wizards’ 5 points. If Oklahoma City can have a repeat performance in their transition game, they will most assuredly have a leg up on Washington.
Article written by Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.