On their best run of the season, the Washington Wizards will be looking to add another win to their tally when they face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday after propeling themselves into the tenth seed in the NBA's East.
The matchup will see two teams heading in contrasting forms face each other. OKC will be looking to end an agonizing 12-game losing streak, while the Wizards will be hoping to add to their six-game unbeaten run.
Fixture - Washington Wizards vs Oklahoma City Thunder | 2020-21 NBA Season.
Date & Time - Friday, April 23rd; 8:00 PM ET (Saturday, April 24th; 5:30 AM IST).
Venue - Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
Washington Wizards Preview
Led by the brilliance of Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook, the Washington Wizards are making a late charge for the Eastern Conference playoffs. With those two superstars in their ranks, they are really in the running.
The Washington Wizards are riding on a spectacular ten-game run in which they have won eight matches and beaten the likes of the Utah Jazz and the Golden State Warriors twice. During that time they ranked 8th in the league for points per night and 4th for field-goal percentage.
There is further cause for Washington Wizards fans to be excited as their side have a kinder fixture run-in than most, only facing two of the NBA's top-8 teams in their next 14 games.
Key Player - Russell Westbrook
'I can do it all'. That was one of Russell Westbrook's postgame comments on Wednesday after the 32-year-old recorded another monster triple-double that included 20 rebounds and held Steph Curry to only 19 points on the night.
Westbrook's performance was his 27th triple-double this season, the most of any player in the league. Although the Washington Wizards had a made start to the campaign, Westbrook and Beal have come to gel perfectly and are putting on a show at just the right time for the franchise.
Westbrook leads the league in assists per game with 10.9, also a career-high, while averaging 11.1 rebounds, 21.6 points and 1.3 steals. He has been the focal point for the Washington Wizards all year and you can imagine he would relish a playoff matchup against former teammates Kevin Durant and James Harden should they end up facing each other.
Washington Wizards Predicted Lineup
Point Guard - Russell Westbrook l Shooting Guard - Raul Neto l Small Forward - Bradley Beal l Power Forward - Deni Avdija l Center - Alex Len
Oklahoma City Thunder Preview
Unfortunately for the Oklahoma City Thunder, their season has spiraled with star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander struggling with a foot injury. Since the All-Star break, OKC have lost 18 of their 23 matches, of which the 22-year-old guard played only five times.
Their recent run of 12 losses has been particularly challenging, with the Thunder struggling on the offensive end. In that time, the Oklahoma City Thunder rank bottom for points per game with 102.6 and for field-goal percentage, connecting with only 43% of attempts.
One positive for the Oklahoma City Thunder fanbase will be their position in the lottery and ability to add to their already promising young side. With Gilgeous-Alexander back from injury and a few talented pieces alongside, the Thunder can definitely compete for a play-in place, as they did in the first half of this season.
Key Player - Darius Bazley
One of the Oklahoma City Thunder's most exciting rising players is forward Darius Bazley, who has thrived since being given additional responsibility recently. In his last seven games, the 20-year-old has put up 19 points a night and seven rebounds.
He has also shown that he has the potential to reach higher after putting up a career-high 26 points on the Pacers this week to go along with nine rebounds. His role with the Oklahoma City Thunder in the future will probably be that of a decent switching defender who can rebound the ball consistently, since his shooting is still quite erratic.
Oklahoma City Thunder Predicted Lineup
Point Guard - Theo Maledon l Shooting Guard - Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk l Small Forward - Darius Bazley l Power Forward - Aleksej Pokusevski l Center - Moses Brown
Wizards vs Thunder Match Prediction
The Washington Wizards are playing with something to prove and something to earn. With two superstars in their ranks to Oklahoma City Thunder's zero, this should be a comfortable win for Westbrook and co.
These sides met as recently as Monday night, in which the Wizards walked away with a 119-107 victory. Bradley Beal put up 30 points on the night and it is going to take an almighty effort from the Oklahoma City Thunder to get revenge in this one.
Where to watch the Wizards vs Thunder matchup
Fans can catch the game locally in America on NBC Sports Washington and Bally Sports Oklahoma. You can also stream the matchup live with an NBA League Pass.