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PREGAME: Wizards vs. Thunder

wizokc

Regular Season Game 7

Oklahoma City (4-3) at Washington (3-3)

November 10, 2015 at 7:00 PM
Verizon Center, Washington, DC
TV: CSN Washington
Radio: 99.1FM


Last time they met was..

January 21, 2015 – Verizon Center, Washington: Thunder 105, Wizards 103
Tales from the Booth: Wizards vs. Thunder 1-21-2015


What to watch

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Let’s not kid ourselves. This game is extra special, and these two are the reason why. That’s the case in every road game these guys play, and in this case, that’s okay.

Here’s how good these guys are: Tonight, it will actually be debatable who the best point guard on the floor is (I personally still take John Wall, but I can respect the alternative view). Tonight, Bradley Beal won’t be the best, most dynamic shooter on the floor. One could argue that Wall and Beal will be the third and fourth best players on the floor. THAT is crazy.

But THIS is also crazy:

Kevin Durant and Russel Westbrook combined stats, game by game:

Points-Rebounds-Assists

55-8-10
91-23-10
40-11-13
54-12-11
49-12-20
53-14-15
53-17-17

SMH. 91-23-10!! NINETY-ONE! There’s a reason sell-out crowds follow the Thunder everywhere they go. Which brings us to….


Key matchup

DC Crowd vs. OKC Crowd

kevin-durant-nba-new-york-knicks-washington-wizards-850x560

All of DC is dreaming about Kevin Durant leaving OKC in his upcoming free agency and coming home. That’s great. But know this: Kevin Durant currently plays in front of some of the most raucous, loyal, loudest fans in the NBA. The crowd is packed at introductions, and stays Thunderous from the opening tip to the final buzzer. They are that way when the Warriors come to town, and they are that way when the Timberwolves come to town.

Why is that important? Well, if KD is going to leave an atmosphere like that, don’t you think he’d like to play in a similar atmosphere? Do you think Kevin will hear a crowd that gets equally loud for their opponent as for their home team and think, “Wow! I’d love to play in front of these guys 41 nights a year!” Do you think Kevin will look around at tip-off time and see half the crowd hasn’t arrived and think, “That’s awesome!” I didn’t think so.

If we as a city are ever going to step up our Wizards fan experience, tonight is the night. Show Durant we care more about the Wizards than we care about him (do you?). Show Durant DC is greater than OKC. And if you think he doesn’t notice this stuff, this Washington Post piece tells you that he does.

Most importantly, show Wall and Beal the love they deserve. They are the stars that play for your team. They are the guys that already dive on the floor for you, dive out-of-bounds for you, and go 100% every night for you. They are the guys who have already played with broken hands for you, broken their feet for you, and are currently ballin out for you.

Contrary to how it may seem, if there’s any night to go all out #KD2DC mode, tonight is NOT it. Tonight is the night to let the Wizards know that you’ll root for them just as hard in 2017 with or without Kevin Durant. Tonight is the night to boo the opponent louder than usual, and to boo KD at the free throw line in the fourth quarter out of sincere passion for a Wizards win, and not out of sincere passion for free chicken.

If you really want Kevin Durant to come home to DC, show him it’s not because you love him, but because you LOVE DC. That’s the love he’ll respect. Otherwise, we don’t deserve him anyway.


X-Factor

Pride. A lot of people will believe that Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are the two best players in this basketball game. John Wall and Bradley Beal will not be among them. Remember this John Wall quote?

He’ll be feeling the same sentiments heading into this matchup. He knows Russell Westbrook is the head of the OKC snake, and he’ll be locked in on Defense to cut off the snake’s head. Don’t judge their matchup on stats, judge it on impact. Russ is going to get his numbers, but Wall is going to make him work. If Russ shoots a low percentage, and has limited assists, advantage Wizards. Westbrook is the type of player who can get frustrated into forcing the issue and isolating his teammates, and Wall is the type of player good enough to create that type of frustration. The national media may not properly respect John Wall, but you can be sure his peers do. Westbrook will be just as hyped to face off against Wall as Wall will be to face him.

As for Bradley Beal: Assuming he plays, he’ll have the extra motivation of proving that the Wizards already have their dynamic wing-scorer of the future that they need. He’s clearly been on a mission already this season, and facing off against KD will be an even bigger jolt of motivation.


Fun factor

In case you weren’t already aware, one of the options Kevin Durant has in free agency is to sign a one year extension (with or without a player option), and then re-enter free agency the following year. Why on earth would he consider such a thing?? Welllll…..

1) There is going to be a massive spike in the salary cap that season.
2) Durant will enter his 10th season, making his “max” deal allowed to be 35% of the salary cap, vs. the 30% he’d be allowed prior to his 10th season.
3) He and his good buddy Russell Westbrook could then enter free agency together, in a league where lot’s of great teams will have plenty of cap room to make a move for both.

Signing the one year extension gives Durant the opportunity to earn about an extra 30-40 MILLION dollars!

And ponder on this: When Durant had plenty of opportunity to stay close to home for college, he chose Texas. TEXAS!

image

See where Texas is? See where Oklahoma is? See where Maryland/DC is? What makes us so sure Durant will choose DC over OKC when he already chose Texas?

Why is all of that my “Fun Factor”? Because this game is not about Kevin Durant, and his impending free agency, and making him feel like a hero. This game is about our Washington Wizards facing off against two of the best players in the NBA and one of the legitimate contenders for the NBA Championship. THAT is what should really make this game fun. They need our support. Give it to them!


Prediction

#KD2DC takes over the Verizon Center, but Wall takes over the game. Durant leaves the game and city in a bad mood, because his team lost, and that’s all he really cares about right now.

we are Hoop District

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