Bickering Wizards Will Not Find Solution in Oklahoma City

wizards thunder

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, January 24, 2018 7:12 PM GMT

Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018 7:12 PM GMT

It’s two very inconsistent teams squaring off in the first TNT game on Thursday as Washington looks for its first-ever win in Oklahoma City. Not gonna happen.

Washington Wizards at Oklahoma City ThunderFree NBA Pick: ThunderBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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Just four games on Thursday’s NBA slate and Wizards-Thunder tips off at 8 p.m. ET on TNT from Oklahoma City. However, NBA fans will want to tune into that channel at 7 p.m. ET because that’s when the All-Star teams will be announced. We know the starters and reserves, but the choices by captains LeBron James and Steph Curry are being done in secret for some reason and will be unveiled before Wizards-Thunder. Should be interesting, although the NBA should have simply televised the “draft.” There are three All-Star reserves in this game in Washington’s John Wall and Bradley Beal, and OKC’s Russell Westbrook. Any Wall-Westbrook matchup is must-see TV with their speed.

It’s the first of two meetings between the Wizards and Thunder, with Oklahoma City visiting D.C. next Tuesday. The five-day turnaround is the quickest Washington has with a Western Conference team this season

Last season, the teams split with each winning at home. Ball averaged 15.0 points and 14.5 assists, while Beal put up 26.5 ppg and shot 58.5 percent from long range. Westbrook averaged 26.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 7.5 assists. He shot just 31.5 percent from the field.

Washington has lost eight straight on the road in this series, with its most recent away victory on March 26, 2006, in Seattle against the SuperSonics.

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Plenty Of Drama

Lot of story lines here. Of course, Wizards coach Scott Brooks was the coach of the Thunder for seven seasons (2008-15) and had a 545-338 record. Kevin Durant wasn’t happy when the team fired Brooks. Some believed that Washington hired Brooks so Durant would sign with the Wizards in free agency.

Meanwhile, Westbrook thinks it’s “outrageous” that teammate Paul George wasn’t named a Western Conference All-Star reserve. George is deserving, averaging 20.8 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists and second in the NBA in steals (2.21). Westbrook threw a jab at the Warriors for getting four guys on the team again over George getting a spot.

The Thunder (27-20 SU, 19-28 ATS) are on a five-game winning streak. They put up 148 points in a blowout in Cleveland on Saturday and then were nearly caught in a trap game at home vs. Brooklyn on Tuesday, escaping 109-108 on a Westbrook go-ahead layup with 3.3 seconds left.

Could Brooks be in trouble in Washington? Three NBA coaches have been fired this season, with Milwaukee canning Jason Kidd on Monday. The talented Wizards (26-21 SU, 20-27 ATS) are closer to ninth in the Eastern Conference than to second. They seem to lose focus against bad teams: see last Wednesday’s 133-109 defeat in Charlotte and Monday’s 98-75 rout in Dallas.

The team recently held a players-only meeting and even that didn’t go well: “I think in a way not everybody got a chance to speak whenever they wanted to," Beal said to the Washington media. "They didn't want to bring up an issue or something they had a problem with on the team.”

Wall added: “I think a couple guys took it in a negative way. It hurt our team. Instead of using it in a positive way like we did in the past and using it to build our team up, it kind of set us back a bit."

It’s well-known that Wall and Beal have had their problems in the past. All of Wall’s numbers are solidly worse this year from last and he’s shooting just 41.7 percent from the field, his lowest since his rookie season.

The Wizards on Thursday could be without small forward Otto Porter, one of the NBA’s best 3-point shooters, after he had to leave the Mavericks game with a strained hip. Kelly Oubre would likely replace him in the starting lineup.

So let’s see here: The Wizards are bickering, they have covered just one of their past nine games, might not have Porter, have never won in Oklahoma City and the Thunder are surging. Yeah, easy OKC call here for a Thursday NBA pick.

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