Wizards-Thunder preview

Wizards-Thunder preview
March 26, 2013, 7:00 pm
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Wizards vs. Thunder

at Chesapeake Energy Arena

TV: CSN, 8 p.m. ET

Season series: Wizards lead 1-0.

Last meeting: The Wizards won 101-99 on Jan. 7 in Washington D.C.  PG John Wall had yet to return from a knee injury, but the Wizards were victorious because of 22 points by rookie SG Bradley Beal, who hit the winning shot with less than one second remaining.

Previous game: The Wizards beat the Memphis Grizzlies 107-94 on Monday to improve to 26-44. The Thunder beat the Portland Trail Blazers 103-83 on Sunday to improve to 52-19.

Projected starting lineups: Wizards -– PG John Wall, SG Garrett Temple, SF Trevor Booker, PF Chris Singleton, C Emeka Okafor. Thunder -– PG Russell Westbrook, SG Thabo Sefolosha, SF Kevin Durant, PF Serge Ibaka, C Kendrick Perkins.

Pivotal matchup: Wall vs. Westbrook. Given the Wizards' injury situation, Wall will have to assume more of offensive burden than normal coming off a career-high 47 vs. Memphis. He only has shot 20 or more times twice this season compared with Westbrook who already has done so eight times in March alone. Both play at a fast pace, but Westbrook has shown a more consistent jump shot for two-plus seasons. Both can be prone to turnovers because of their high-octane style, but they also have protected the ball well as of late. 

Trending upward: Okafor continues to flourish with Wall, hitting a mid-range jump shot that defenses tend to give him. ... The Wizards only had 12 turnovers vs. Memphis with Wall and Temple only having two each. ... Temple is 4-for-8 from three in his last three games. 

Trending downward: The Wizards’ health keeps getting worse as they only had nine healthy players. They didn't have Ariza for the last two games but he could return. Although Beal (left ankle sprain) is listed as day-to-day, his return seems unlikely. Backup PG A.J. Price (groin) still can’t practice and SF Martell Webster (abdominal strain) and PF Nene (right knee soreness) have been playing through injuries that have finally caught up to them.

He said it: He is faster than any guy I have ever seen when he is driving full speed and pulls up and hits a jumper. He is tough to defend. When his jumper is going you have to step up and guard him, but to counter that he has the ability to drive right around you. John also makes free throws, he was 19 of 24. He is a talented kid; he was the number one pick in the draft. Leading his team like he did tonight is what he is supposed to do being the number one pick in the draft." -- Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins on John Wall. 

Around the bend: Friday at Orlando Magic, 7 p.m. ET; Sunday vs. Toronto Raptors, 6. Both games on CSN.