The Oklahoma City Thunder and the Washington Wizards will be tipping off their second and final matchup of the season at 8 pm. on ESPN tonight. Just about two and a half weeks ago, these two teams went head-to-head in OKC. The Thunder came out on top by a score of 109-102 in that game.
Washington will be looking to avenge that loss tonight, against a fully-healthy Oklahoma City Thunder. Both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have participated in less than 30 games this season, though they have played well when they are on the court.
Durant has averaged 25 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game, while Westbrook has tallied 24.9 points and 7.4 assists per contest. OKC lost 13 of their first 18 games this season, but ever since the two stars have returned, they have played to a record of 16-7.
This can only mean one thing for Oklahoma City: Without Durant and Westbrook, they are one of the worst teams in the league, which does not state good things about their supporting cast. While starting power forward Serge Ibaka has had a nice season here in 2014, the rest of the team has not performed highly.
This lead to the Thunder’s recent trade; receiving shooting guard Dion Waiters from the Cleveland Cavaliers. The former fourth-overall pick has played in just six games for OKC so far, and has put up decent numbers off the bench. He is averaging 12.5 points, but is also shooting just 41 percent from the field. However, it has only been six games, and Waiters is a guy that has proven he can a be a solid scorer in this league.
Valley of the Suns
The Washington Wizards have struggled a bit against Western Conference opponents this season. Though they have won eight out of their 13 games against teams from the West, that number doesn’t look great compared to their 20-8 record within the Eastern Conference.
The Wizards will need to see production from starting shooting guard Bradley Beal, who scored 21 points and recorded ten rebounds and six assists in the last meeting between these two teams. The youngster has been performing quite well ever since returning from his injury, averaging 14.8 points per game, while shooting 46 percent from three-point range and 82 percent form the free throw line.
However, where the Wizards have a real advantage in this game is in the paint. The Thunder do not have anyone that could matchup against the likes of Marcin Gortat and Nene down low, and that will obviously make things extremely tough on Oklahoma City.
The Thunder are a team known around the league to be one of the elite in the NBA, so a victory for Washington tonight in front of the whole world would go a long way in proving that the Wizards are legitimate.