Tip-Off: 6 P.M. CST
TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma
Radio: WWLS the Sports Animal and the Thunder Radio Network
On Tuesday night, a battle in the nation’s capital will put a long way toward answering a huge question for both the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Washington Wizards. Which injury hurt their team more? The Wizards losing John Wall, or the Thunder going forward without Andre Roberson? When the teams played each other just one week ago, both Robes and Wall were healthy and effective and the Thunder beat the Wizards 121-112 at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Here are my 4 keys to a Thunder victory over the Wizards:
4) Thunder looking for season high 9th straight win
An emotional and hard fought win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday was the Thunder’s most bittersweet victory of the season. Although they did push their win streak to 8 games and moved to a season high 10 games over .500, it was emotional. Guard Andre Roberson ruptured his left patella tendon in his knee the night before, requiring surgery and ending his 2017-2018 season. Roberson was named to the NBA all-defensive second team last season and was turning heads defensively again this year. Roberson’s presence will be missed on the defensive end. Rookie Terrance Ferguson will start for the Thunder Tuesday night as he will attempt to lock down all-star Bradley Beal.
The Wizards will have to contend without star guard John Wall tonight as the Wizards look for their second straight win and look to move up to the 5th spot in the Eastern Conference. On the other hand, with a win tonight, the Thunder will move into 4th place over the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Western Conference.
3) The Thunder need to lock down Washington’s outside game
Without the services of John Wall, you would think the Wizards would have trouble scoring the ball right? Wrong. Wall has missed 9 games this season due to a knee injury that he has received multiple injections for throughout the season. Wall’s knee has finally gave out, and will miss the next 6-8 weeks. The Wizards still have the 9th best PPG total in all of basketball thanks to some terrific outside shooters. Bradley Beal (38% from three), Otto Porter (43% from three), and Kelly Oubre Jr. (40% from three) are viable threats that have the ability to score at anytime. Despite inconsistencies from Porter and Oubre offensively, Paul George and newly named starter Terrance Ferguson will have a tough time with those young guns on the wings.
2) Who will win the matchup battle?
If you went around the NBA and were trying to find the one point guard who can keep up with Russell Westbrook, it would probably John Wall. Thankfully the Thunder will not have to contend with Wall tonight so lord only knows what kind of performance Westbrook is in for tonight. Westbrook dropped a season high 46 PTS last week against Washington, and might be able to break that tonight as veteran guard Jodie Meeks will be his assignment. The same can be said for the match up between Beal and Ferguson. It will be interesting to see if Thunder coach Billy Donovan decides to put their best defensive player in Paul George on Washington’s now number 1 scoring option in Beal. However if Ferguson will be on Beal, it could be a very long night for the 19 year old.
Offensively, defensively, and George’s all around game trumps Wizards forward Otto Porter in just about every statistical category. Believe it or not, the one matchup the Wizards might have is the battle at power forward. The healthy return of Markieff Morris will provide match up problems for Carmelo Anthony. Anthony’s lack of defensive prowess might be his downfall against a well-rounded Morris. One of the most underrated centers in the league, Marcin Gortat, will have his hands full as Thunder center Steven Adams is having himself the best stretch of his young NBA career. Overall? Expect the Thunder to have their way with the Wizards starting five tonight.
1) Wizards will have to battle without Wall
It was confirmed today that Wizards star point guard John Wall will be sidelined with a knee injury for the next 6-8 weeks. Terrible news for Wizards fans, great news for Thunder fans as they look to continue to climb up the ladder of the Western Conference. Still, you have to respect the game of Wall. A 7 time all star and a once in a generational kind of talent. Perhaps he does not get the national recongtion that a Stephen Curry or a Chris Paul get, but after to Russell Westbrook, Wall is undeniably the best two-way point guard in the league. He is close to averaging a double-double per game; (19.4 PPG, 9.3 APG) and flat out makes everyone on his team better. With veteran guard Jodie Meeks at the point tonight, look to see Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, and Markieff Morris look to get a significant amount of more touches as the Thunder look to put a pounding on the Wizards tonight.
Who do you think will win tonight?
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