Opening Statements: Wizards at Thunder, Game 46 | Wizards Blog Truth About

Opening Statements: Wizards at Thunder, Game 46

Updated: February 1, 2016

Washington Wizards vs Oklahoma City Thunder - Jan. 7, 2013

Teams: Wizards at Thunder
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
Television: CSN
Radio: WNEW-FM 99.1
Spread: Thunder fav’d by 9.5 points

The Wizards could be facing Kevin Durant in a Thunder uniform this evening for the final time. Or it could be the fifth-to-final time, or the 17th-to-final time (if Durant plays until at least 35). Oklahoma City has won three in a row in the series, and they are 10-4 overall versus Washington since moving from Seattle. Wouldn’t it be something if these two franchises had a rematch in the 2018 NBA Finals 40 years after the fact?

The #KD2DC movement has, nonetheless, increasingly deflated as this season has worn on, with OKC having the fourth-best record in the NBA (third-best in the West) and the Wizards in 10th place in the East and 2.5 games out of a playoff spot. Durant barely played when the Thunder visited D.C. in November, leaving the game early with a sore left hamstring. Russell Westbrook (triple-double in three quarters), Serge Ibaka (23 points, 3-3 on 3s), and even Dion Waiters (25 points off the bench) were solvent enough to mop the floor with a Wizards squad without Bradley Beal and Nene.

From that night’s coverage:

As the usual late-arriving crowd in D.C. (also known to cower in the face of a little bit of rain) became noticeably and decidedly dull past the midway point of the second quarter, Dion Waiters hit a 3-pointer. It was his second in less than a four-minute span, the second 3 coming via assist from local basketball player Kevin Durant. He was the most un-Dion Waiters that I or anyone else has ever been served—a game-high 25 points on 10 field goal attempts. A feat of those proportions (>= 25 pts, =< 10 FGAs) only happened 19 previous times since Waiters entered the league in 2012. Waiters’ show last night was just the fifth time any player did it coming off the bench in that span. This x-factoring of Waiters on a night hyped for so many other reasons could be classified and archived as #SoWizards, if one were doing such (and the Library of Congress is), so there’s that.

The Thunder on this Monday evening welcome the Wizards having won 10 of their last 11 games, somehow losing to the Nets in Brooklyn last Sunday, needing overtime to beat the Knicks in New York last Tuesday, and beating the Timber-pups by three points in Minnesota on Wednesday. Back home, the Thunder beat the Rockets by eight points on Friday night and have had two days off.

During the last meeting—it was just the seventh game of the season for the Wizards—Randy Wittman aimed to counter OKC’s bruising duo of Steven Adams and Serge Ibaka (perhaps underestimating Ibaka’s 3-point prowess in the process) with a 4-5 combo that never worked, Kris Humphries and Marcin Gortat (1). Both got beat in the paint badly to the point where A) Wittman started Drew Gooden in the second half instead of Humphries, and B) the coach called out Gortat for getting one defensive rebound in 27 minutes, claiming that he, at his age of 56, could get at least one NBA-caliber rebound in that amount of time. Ah, the good ol’ days of the Wizards this season.

Over the last three games, with usual starting 2 guard Anthony Roberson out due to a sprained knee, Dion Waiters has started alongside Russell Westbrook, Durant, and Patty and Selma (I think Adams is Selma). And really, that’s perhaps where OKC’s recent close games started. Roberson, a defensive leader, got hurt after 15 minutes of action in the Brooklyn loss.

Wittman (2) will likely form a platoon to defend Durant once again, giving each Otto Porter, Jared Dudley, Kelly Oubre, Bradley Beal, and Garrett Temple their draft cards. Although, we can probably count on Temple starting on Westbrook and Wall on Waiters. The question is Porter. He’s banged up with a partially torn hip labrum and a sore back. He also got son’d by Durant last time. Will Randy Wittman throw #Slenderman to the wolves in their own den? Maybe trying to counter the size of the Thunder was the right answer, but Wittman just had the wrong personnel available, such as the Gortat-Nene lineup that’s been a sore point from yours truly to the players playing the actual games.

Still, could a Wall, Temple, Dudley, Nene, and Gortat lineup throw a counter-cog in the game’s flow and give the Wiz a desperate, fighting chance. Might not be the worst idea, if the Wizards think Dudley can keep up with Durant for half a quarter (you should have your doubts). And then you bring in Porter or Gooden in for Nene, along with Beal for Temple, at the six-minute mark of the first quarter to change things up. Then again, Dudley, Nene, and Gortat have not shared the court all season. There could be better, or worse, ideas.

In any case, here’s how Durant has shot over his last five games against the Wizards, and how tightly he’s been guarded, per player tracking stats:

  • Field Goals: 46-93 (49.5%)
  • 3-Pointers: 11-29 (37.9%)
  • Catch & Shoot: 5-21 (23.8%)
  • Pull-Ups: 18-37 (48.6%)
  • Tightly or Very Tightly Defended (0-4 feet): 37-66 (56.1%)
  • Open or Wide Open (4 feet or beyond): 9-27 (33.3%)

The guy can just flat-out shoot—especially when guarded. Wouldn’t you want him on your team?

Stay tuned to your video, tablet, phone, and/or television monitors, this could go the way of the Wizards, or the way of the #SoWizards, with not much room left in between.

True Story?



Westbrook to Durant Oop

  1. The Wizards gave it a good try, though—attempting to use Humphries as a stretch-4 this season before getting burnt by his inability to drive and/or play defense, and before he got hurt. One would like to think that had Jared Dudley, or even Alan Anderson, been healthy from the start, they would have been the season’s starting stretch-4 instead. No one knows nothing, however.
  2. Randy Wittman will miss the Thunder game tonight and the Warriors game in D.C. on Wednesday tending to the unexpected death of his brother.
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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.