The All-Star break seems to have done the Golden State Warriors (47-14) a lot of good. They followed up their complete and utter 32-point annihilation of the Oklahoma City Thunder with another easy 125-111 win over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. They are now a perfect 3-0 since the break and 6-1 in their last seven games.
After his off shooting night against OKC, Klay Thompson bounced back with 26 points on 9-of-13 shooting against the Knicks. Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry added 22 and 21 points, respectively, as they once again sat out the entire fourth quarter.
They should be well-rested for their meeting with the Washington Wizards (36-25), who won their fifth game in their last six outings as they beat the Milwaukee Bucks last night, 107-104. Bradley Beal had another stellar all-around game with 21 points, seven rebounds, and eight assists to lead the Wizards. Otto Porter had 17 points and seven rebounds and Kelly Oubre added 13 points and four boards off the bench. Oubre has been in fine form of late, averaging 15 points off the pine over his last four games.
Three keys to the game
Warriors’ intensity – The Warriors have had their struggles on the road recently. They’ve dropped four of their last six games away from Oracle. However, if they play with the intensity they showed against the Thunder and the Knicks, hardly any team can stand a chance. And given the bad blood that went down between them and the Wizards in their first meeting this season, the Warriors may just be an extra bit motivated for this matchup.
Wizards small ball – The Wizards gave the Warriors all they could handle during their first meeting very early in the season despite losing Bradley Beal for half the game. They owed a lot of their success to the Juniors, Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre, who combined for 48 points on 11-of-15 shooting from beyond the arc with 18 rebounds. The Wizards had to play smaller with the absence of Markieff Morris. But with Oubre playing well of late, they could trot out those same small-ball lineups a bit more often.
Bradley Beal – Beal missed half of the first matchup with the Warriors as he was tossed following a physical altercation with Draymond Green. But with John Wall out, it’ll be on Beal to continue being the main man for the Wiz. He’s filled that role very well, and he’ll need to raise his game even further to hang with the Warriors.
Matchup to watch
Klay Thompson vs Bradley Beal – Thompson is one of the best one-on-one perimeter defenders in the game, but he’ll have his hands full containing Beal. The Wizards guard has stepped up his game ever since John Wall went down as he’s added more playmaking to his repertoire. Thompson will have to make sure Beal doesn’t go off offensively, and at the same time make him pay on the other end of the court.
Warriors projected starting lineup
PG – Stephen Curry | SG – Klay Thompson | SF – Kevin Durant | PF – Draymond Green | C – Zaza Pachulia
Wizards projected starting lineup
PG – Tomas Satoransky | SG – Bradley Beal | SF – Otto Porter | PF – Markieff Morris | C – Marcin Gortat
Durant should be up for this matchup since he’ll be coming back home to D.C. A big game in his hometown will be a perfect way for him to end what has been a fabulous February. He’s averaging 27.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.0 assists while shooting an absurd 61 percent from the field and 54 percent from downtown for the whole month, which is mind-boggling efficiency.
As for the Wizards, Porter will be an interesting name to consider for fantasy. Over his last 12 games, Porter is averaging 19 points and seven rebounds while shooting an impressive 54 percent from the floor. He also burned the Warriors for a season-high 29 points (11-16 FG, 7-9 3-PT FG) and ten rebounds in their first meeting.
The Warriors are in a good spot here. They are full of confidence and well-rested for their visit to Washington, while the Wizards are missing a key piece in Wall and will be on the second night of a back-to-back. Take Golden State to cover the 8.5-point spread on the road.
Durant goes off once again as he leads the Warriors to their fourth straight win, 121-110.
This game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN. Tip-off is at 8:00 pm Eastern.