The Oklahoma City Thunder are facing the rare must-win game in January. While it may seem dramatic, the Western Conference standings see just two and a half games separating the OKC Thunder from their present third seed in the West in the NBA Play-in tournament.
After sleepwalking their way through a pair of disappointing losses in Atlanta and Brooklyn, the OKC Thunder must get on track against the Washington Wizards in the Nation's Capital.
The lowly Wizards have six total wins, only earning half of those at home, so the Thunder should be able to earn a much-needed road win to stop the bleeding on this long East Coast trip. On the verge of heading down to South Beach to take on the Heat, Oklahoma City can not afford to drop a game like this.
In the big picture, it is tough to call anything a must-win in an 82-game season. They can technically lose this game and still achieve every goal the team has. However, dropping winnable games like this in the highly competitive Western Conference is what makes the season an uphill climb and dampens the chances to reach the team's full potential.
The OKC Thunder face a must-win game against the Washington Wizards and are fully healthy in this contest.
The good news for Oklahoma City is their must-win game comes as the team is fully healthy. The Thunder will only miss Keyontae Johnson and Ousmane Dieng for this tilt, both of whom are logging developmental minutes for the NBA G League squad.
UPDATE: Davis Bertans was a late scratch due to an illness pregame in Washington.
Meanwhile, the Washington Wizards have a longer injury report. Patrick Baldwin Jr and Jules Bernard will miss this game on assignment with the Captial City GoGo. Along with them, NBA veteran Delon Wright (quad) and Landry Shamet (Hamstring) started the day as questionable before being bumped up to available.
This allows both teams to come into this matchup fully healthy, only missing players the organizations were comfortable sending to the farm.
Though, even when fully healthy, the Thunder should be able to overmatch the Wiz Kids far and away. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander should lightly jaunt his way to a 30-plus point performance.
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