The Washington Wizards and Oklahoma City Thunder are set for a Friday night meeting at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. This has been an ugly season for the Thunder. They had no expectations going into this season, and are a team looking towards building a future in Oklahoma. It’s a clear rebuild season for the Thunder. That much was clear when they took several draft picks off the hands of the Clippers two years ago for Paul George. It looks ugly now, but that deal should result in a quality starter or two landing in Oklahoma with the Thunder.
If the Thunder don’t find a go-to contributor out of this, then that’s on the front office. The Thunder already have a nice piece to put down on the foundation. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is one of the most underrated players in the NBA. He was carrying the Thunder early in the season. That was before he was injured and hasn’t played a game since March 22 in a 112-103 win against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Before having to sit down with a foot injury, Gilgeous-Alexander was averaging 23.7 points and 5.9 assists per game.
His removal from the floor has completely changed the dynamic for the Thunder. And along with Gilgeous-Alexander, Al Horford is taking the rest of the season off so he carries some trade value. Luguentz Dort has also been injured for the Thunder. Dort has been coming on nicely this season in his development. He isn’t the biggest name in the league, but is an important player on the court for the Thunder. His absence takes away 13.9 points per game.
All of these injuries add up to a 12-game losing streak. Since beating the Timberwolves on March 22 with Gilgeous-Alexander active, the Thunder have only beaten one team, the Toronto Raptors on March 31. The Thunder head into Friday night with a record of 20-39. They welcome a Washington Wizards team that has been playing much better basketball recently.
The Wizards are 25-33 on the season, but a nice run as of late with six straight wins and in eight of nine outings. A team with Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal in the starting lineup shouldn’t have been struggling like they were. They’re beginning to come around, and could end up in the play-in tournament. It’s a tight race at the moment in the East for the final spots. Head below for our free Wizards vs. Thunder pick on April 23, 2021.
Washington Wizards vs. Oklahoma City Thunder NBA Betting Odds:
Wizards vs. Thunder Prediction:
The Thunder have been putting what essentially amounts to a G League lineup on the floor. With Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Al Horford, and Luguentz Dort inactive, three of their biggest contributors are not playing. The good news for the Thunder is that this is to be expected, and for a team in full tank mode, they’re doing a pretty good job of that. The Thunder have been finding it difficult to put the ball on the hoop. They have no major scorer with Gilgeous-Alexander injured.
OKC is 28th with 105.5 points per game and 27th with a field goal percentage of 44.5%. The Thunder can’t even convert from the free throw line. They’ve had a lot of problems hitting their freebies as well. OKC is 30th in the NBA at 73%. For an NBA team only hitting 73% from the line is really brutal. We see that in college where teams clank free throws like it’s nothing, but teams in the NBA should at least be over 75%.
Their defense has had problems as well, with 114.4 points against per game. That is good for 24th in the league. It’s unlikely that the Thunder will be able to keep up with the Wizards’ scoring touch in this contest. Expect Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal to go wild with no resistance from the Thunder defense. What has been most impressive for the Wizards has been their defensive intensity. This was one of the worst defenses in the NBA, but that hasn’t been the case over the last few weeks.
In their last five games, the Wizards have allowed 109.4 points per game. That is down from their average of 118 points against per game. The points might look attractive on the Thunder at home, but it looks a bit trapish. They could be a public dog in this game, but the spread is not budging. With the Wizards in a groove and in great form at the moment, along with something to play for, look for them to pull away for a 123-108 victory.