This also counts as an open thread, so feel free to post your thoughts during the game here.
Records: The Oklahoma City Thunder (29-16) vs. The Washington Wizards (13-31)
Time: 7:00 PM Central Standard Time
Place: The New Myriad, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
TV: Fox Sports Net Oklahoma, Comcast Sports Net Washington, District of Columbia
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1), 106.7 The Fan
Enemy Blog(s): Bullets Forever, Agent Dagger, Truth About It
Previous Meeting(s): None.
The Washington Wizards are 0-21 away from home.
If this were Uncyclopedia, I'd just repost that line about a hundred times and call it a day. But no, this is a blog. A super serious blog. So I guess I should preview this game.
The Wizards aren't as bad as you think they are. They actually have a winning record at home, went 4-4 in early January, and have recent wins over good teams like Boston and Utah. The Wizards roster does have decent players on it, like Rookie sensation John Wall, young bigs JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche, former All-Star and SuperSonic Rashard Lewis, decent backup PG Kirk Hinrich (who may be back tonight), former Hawk Al Thornton, and a large collection of other young players. Essentially, the Wizards are a nice cross-section of NBA talent, with a good balance between older role players and young prospects. In a perfect world, they'd have the talent to make the playoffs, but they are too young and injury-prone for that to happen.
Below: The Wizards' Mish-Mesh of Talent, Lack of D, and Advantages Over the Thunder! Also Prediction!
So, for now, the Wizards will have to settle for some nice wins at home. Whether they do well depends on whether certain players decide to show up. The reason lots of players contend for the most PPG on the Wizards is not because the Wizards are overly fond of sharing the ball. Rather, their players are so darned inconsistent that they have to look for the hot hand in a certain game. This mish-mesh of a similar caliber of players can work well for a team, as evidenced by the New Orleans Hornets. But it works terribly for the Wizards, who don't have a steady source of points ala West and Paul.
There's also the issue of the Wizard's complete lack of defense. When you take a look at their roster, you realize that they have no lock-down defenders aside from JaVale McGee. But while he gets the blocks, he lets players like Amare and Nene score well over their averages against him. In short, the Wizards always have to play to the other teams strengths, and if the other team's strength is defense, they're going to lose, because they'll get killed on both ends. If the other team's strength is offense, they'll also get killed, because their players don't score with enough consistency to keep up. Rather, they work well against balanced teams like the Celtics or Jazz, because they can occasionally outscore them, as long as they play reasonable defense.
Unfortunately, this means trouble for the balanced Thunder. I'm not calling for a sounding of the alarm or anything, but there is a strong possibility that this game will be close. The Wizards have a bad defense, but the Thunder's offense has been so bad recently that they can't even get a sizable lead against the Timberwolves. Wall-Westbrook is a nice PG battle, but Westbrook has averaged 5 Turnovers in the past 5 games, and usually turns in a sub-par performance when facing a really quick PG, like Wall. Lastly, we have absolutely no answer in the paint for McGee or Blatche should they decide to get hot.
I wouldn't be surprised if we lost this game given our recent performances. But it's still unlikely to happen. The Thunder have a strong opportunity to set the court on fire with a definitive win here, and while they won't do that, I think they can put the Wizards away late in the fourth.
Also, keep an eye out for Mustafa Shakur, former Thunder guard.
Prediction: Oklahoma City 110, Washington 102