Oklahoma City Thunder vs Washington Wizards

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The Washington Wizards (23-33) come into tonight’s game on an impressive five-game winning streak that includes a victory over the Western Conference-leading Utah Jazz. Their most recent win was a 121-100 beat down against the Pistons. Russell Westbrook recorded a triple-double with 15 points, 14 rebounds, and 11 assists, while Bradley Beal poured in 37 points in the win. The Wizards, who led by six at the half, pulled away in the second half, but the Wizards did lose starters Alex Lin and Rui Hachimura during the game to injuries. Ish Smith added 16 points, and Robin Lopez scored 15 in the win.

Speaking of the Pistons, Detroit defeated Oklahoma City (20-36) on Friday night 110-104, handing the Thunder their ninth consecutive loss heading into their game last night against Toronto (Game Recap and Stats not included in this article). The Thunder roared back from an 11 point fourth-quarter deficit to cut the Piston lead to one, but could never snatch the lead from Detroit. The Thunder turned the ball over 22 times in the game and were led by Lu Dort with 26 points. Both teams were short-handed, as the Thunder played without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (right foot), Josh Hall (knee), Mike Muscala (right ankle), and Aleksej Pokusevski (right arm).

All of the above-mentioned injuries were listed as OUT for last night’s game, which probably means the same for tonight. Meanwhile, the Wizards will be without Davis Bertans (personal). Hachimura and Len are listed as day-to-day, so be sure to check the injury report prior to the game before placing a bet.

This will be the first of two meetings this week between the two teams.

Reeling Thunder Hope To Break Losing Streak

The Oklahoma City Thunder have been struggling now for over two weeks being shorthanded with injuries and poor play. OKC has been blown out four of the last five games heading into last night’s game against Toronto. Not much can be said other than they should improve once Gilgeous-Alexander returns to the lineup. Until then, the roster is thin on consistent scorers, and the defense is sub-par.

As a team, the Thunder have an effective field goal percentage of 51.6%, 27th in the league. Oklahoma City is last in the league in turnover percentage (14.0%), 26th in offensive rebounding percentage (20.0%) and 27th in free throws per field goal attempts (.173). Defensively, the Thunder rank 20th in the NBA in opponent’s effective field goal percentage (54.1%), 26th in opponent turnover percentage (11.3%), 13th in defensive rebound percentage (78.0%), and fourth in opponent free throws per field goal attempts (.164).

Without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s 23.7 ppg average, the Thunder will rely on Al Horford, Darius Bazley, and Lu Dort to carry the scoring load. Al Horford has averaged 14.2 ppg, 6.7 rpg, and 3.4 apg while shooting 36.8% from beyond the arc. Bazley has averaged 12.3 ppg and 7.4 rpg, while Lu Dort has averaged 13.6 ppg and 3.6 rpg.

Westbrook Key to Washington Turnaround

Russell Westbrook’s leadership and intensity has been magnified in the Wizard’s recent win streak, which has Washington on the verge of making the expanded playoff field. The Wizards are now tied with Chicago for the 10th spot in the East. That is the final playoff spot this season. Westbrook recorded his 25th triple-double of the season on Saturday against Detroit and has averaged a 22.5 ppg, 13.6 rpg, 11.6 apg triple-double over his past ten games. For the season, Westbrook has averaged 21.9 ppg, 10.9 rpg, and 10.8 apg.

Bradley Beal remains the Wizards’ leading offensive threat, averaging 31.1 ppg, 4.8 rpg, and 4.8 apg. Robin Lopez, who has taken on additional minutes with the loss of Thomas Bryant to injury, has averaged 8.8 ppg and 4.0 rpg. The Wizards are also hoping that Riu Hachimura’s injury is not serious and that he can return for this game. This season, Hachimura has averaged 13.5 ppg and 5.7 rpg.

As a team, the Wizards have an effective field goal percentage of 52.2%, 22nd in the league. Washington is 20th in the league in turnover percentage (12.8%), 25th in offensive rebounding percentage (20.1%), and third in free throws per field goal attempts (.218). Defensively, the Wizards are 18th in the NBA in opponent’s effective field goal percentage (54.1%), 15th in opponent’s turnover percentage (12.4), 14th in defensive rebounding percentage (77.9%), and 28th in opponent’s free throws per field goal attempts (.215).

The Bottom Line
What to bet on this game.

Full-Game Side Bet

The trends favor the Wizards to beat the spread in this one, and they will most likely be favored against a shorthanded and struggling Thunder team playing the second game of a back-to-back with travel in between. Be sure to pay attention to the injury report to see if things change (i.e. Gilgeous-Alexander returns from injury), although indications are that he is out at least an additional two weeks.

Washington -12

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Full-Game Total Pick

Without knowing the predicted total, I’m looking at the trends for this pick. Both teams have trended strongly toward the UNDER. The UNDER is 4-0 in the Wizard’s last four home games, and 5-0 in the Wizard’s last five home games against teams with a losing record. Similarly, the UNDER is 10-2 in the Thunder’s last 12 road games. There is no reason to not stick with the trends here, so I’m taking the UNDER.