Washington Wizards vs. Oklahoma City Thunder Pick & Prediction JANUARY 8th 2024

Mark Daigneault isn’t about to overreact to back-to-back losses, just like he wasn’t overreacting to his Oklahoma City Thunder’s five-game winning streak before that.

“It’s hard in an 82-game season to react to two-game trends,” the Thunder coach said ahead of Oklahoma City’s game against the Wizards on Monday in Washington.

“At the end of the day, we have a standard we want to play to. … I’ve just found that, if you start to react to any small sample trend, you end up chasing your shadow and missing the opportunity in front of you.”

During their five-game winning streak, the Thunder beat Minnesota, Denver and Boston — three of the NBA’s top teams — before falling in back-to-back road games in Atlanta and Brooklyn.

Like Daigneault, Oklahoma City star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander cautioned against buying too much into the Thunder’s hot start, saying it was too early to call his team a championship contender.

But Gilgeous-Alexander isn’t looking at the last two games — when Oklahoma City was outscored by a combined 78-46 in the first quarter — as proof of that, but rather as part of the process of getting themselves where they want to be.

“We got off to a good start, better than most people expected,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “We’ve lost two games in a row that maybe people say we shouldn’t, or games that aren’t to our character. But it happens. You have to lose to become a winner.”

Gilgeous-Alexander is hoping Oklahoma City can bounce back against the Wizards in the third game of the Thunder’s four-game road trip.

While Oklahoma City is among the NBA’s best teams offensively, averaging 119.3 points per 100 possessions, the Wizards have the worst defensive rating in the NBA, allowing 121.6 points per 100 possessions.

Washington comes into Monday’s game on a four-game losing streak. The Wizards have dropped seven of their last eight.

While the Wizards have been a good shooting team, shooting 47.9 percent from the floor this season, they’ve taken a slight dip during their current losing streak, shooting 44.3 percent.

“Even the best teams, not every night the ball is going to go in, and they excel in the other things and making the game close,” Wizards forward Deni Avdija said. “When the ball doesn’t go in, you’ve got to play better defense or be more aggressive and maybe crash the boards a little bit more — things that can help us get in a better flow.”

Washington has been outrebounded by an average of nearly 16 rebounds per game during the streak.

The Wizards and the Thunder are two of the worst rebounding teams in the league. Oklahoma City is 28th at 40.7 rebounds per game, while Washington is last at 39.3.

Tuesday’s game is the first of two meetings between the teams this season. Oklahoma City swept the two games last season.

In last season’s game in Washington on Nov. 16, 2022, Gilgeous-Alexander hit a game-winning 3-pointer with less than 2 seconds left and matched a then-career high with 42 points.

–Field Level Media

Docsports, The most trusted name in sports handicapping