Wizards eventually handle lingering Thunder as Deni Avdija has up and down performance

Apr 19, 2021 | Deni Avdija

The Washington Wizards are taking full advantage of their easier strength of schedule to finish the regular season as they earned their fifth straight win by beating an undermanned Oklahoma City Thunder team fully barrelling towards the draft lottery. Despite playing without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Lu Dort, the Thunder kept things interesting by cutting Washington’s one-time 17-point lead to just two in the fourth quarter. Nevertheless, the Wizards continued to show their ability to close by earning the 119-107 victory. In 26 minutes, Deni Avdija had six points and six rebounds.

Returning from two missed games for the birth of his son, Davis Bertans returned with 21 points on 6-for-12 shooting, all from deep. Bertans is playing the best he has all season now healthy and conditioned following a two-week hiatus to recover from a calf strain as well as an overall mental reset in what has been a chaotic season for the Latvian native. Just the threat of Bertans, especially on a team that has otherwise struggled to shoot the ball from the perimeter, will force teams to decide if they can continue to pack the paint against Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook drives when a kick-out pass to an open Bertans is a near layup for three.

Deni Avdija – Photo Credit: Washington Wizards

“Shooting-wise, I think the past couple months have been pretty solid,” Davis Bertans explained. “Since coming back from the injury, got to reset my body and I’ve been doing a better job on the defensive end of the floor and that’s what I’ve been trying to focus on more. On offense, when the shots come to me, I take them, if I don’t just give the best I got on the defensive end.”

At this point in the season, I am not expecting Deni Avdija to magically become a great or even good three-point shooter over the final 15 regular-season games. That is going to be something he will need to work on during the summer when he has a full offseason and I have every confidence he will improve in that facet. Presently, he was 0-for-6 from deep on Monday despite good looks that simply did not fall. Regardless, it continues to be promising to see Avdija move without the basketball and the growing chemistry he has with Russell Westbrook who is finding him on those cuts.

Washington will officially welcome back fans to the tune of 10 percent capacity on Wednesday when the Wizards host the Golden State Warriors and new NBA leading scorer Steph Curry (31.4 ppg) who surpassed Beal (31.1 ppg) on Monday.

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