Durant hoops it up in local Goodman League
Earlier this month we learned the Wizards entire slate of games for the upcoming 2013-14 season and highlighted a few of the schedule's notable matchups. Now we go a bit deeper by counting down the 10 most interesting contests.
Game No. 10: Wizards at Bobcats, January 7
Game No. 9: Wizards vs. Kings, February 9
Game No. 8: Wizards vs. Knicks, November 23
Game No. 7: Wizards vs. Warriors, January 5
Game No. 6: Wizards vs. Magic, December 2
GAME No. 5: Wizards vs. Thunder, February 1
The interest: Not many teams can say they have a winning streak of any kind against Kevin Durant and the Thunder. The Wizards are one of them, at least at the Verizon Center where they won the last two meetings, including a thrilling 101-99 victory in January on Bradley Beal's buzzer beater. Beyond the game, there is always additional energy in the building whenever Durant, the current king of D.C. basketball, returns home.
The Thunder: Oklahoma City's hopes of a repeat trip to the NBA Finals ended abruptly after losing Russell Westbrook early in the postseason with an injury. With the core of two Olympians in Durant and Westbrook plus center Serge Ibaka, the Thunder remain one of the Western Conference favorites. Kevin Martin is now in Minnesota, but the veteran guard was essentially MIA in the postseason. Rather than undergo a roster shakeup or add high-profile free agents to cover that loss or improve elsewhere, OKC plans on turning to a host of promising but inexperienced first and second year players. That group includes wing threat and sneaky breakout player Jeremy Lamb, athletic forward Perry Jones plus two 2013 first round picks, 7-foot center Steven Adams and guard Andre Roberson. If OKC is going to get past San Antonio, Houston and Memphis, those kids better group up quick.
The stat: Even if recently the D.C. results haven't gone his way, Durant has certainly had his way with the Wizards. In 10 career games, the former Montrose Christian product has averaged 30.0 points, his third highest average against any NBA team (Golden State, Indiana). Durant's 51.5 field goal percentage versus the Wizards is only trumped by his clip against New Orleans.
Another stat: Odd, but just six Wizards played in both games against the Thunder last season and only Garrett Temple and Emeka Okafor started each time.
The matchup: If it seems like every game means another contest pitting Wall against another high-end point guard, you're not wrong. This time two of the league's top athletes square off with the uber-speedy Wall against the physical imposing Westbrook. In four career meetings, Westbrook has not surprisingly gotten the better of the Wizards star in scoring (27.5-17.5), though the assist (9.0-8.8) and rebounding (6.5-5.8) averages are comparable. Wall has the edge in steals (1-.8-1.3), but he truly lags behind in field goal percentage with an unsightly 29.0 versus Westbrook's 52.1 clip.