Nearly two months after the Houston Rockets sent Russell Westbrook to the Washington Wizards in exchange for John Wall, the prolific point guards are set to face off against one another for the first time this season.
When the two meet for the first time since the swap, you can catch the action exclusively on NBA League Pass.
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While the deal marked the end of a brief one-year chapter in Houston for Westbrook, it was much deeper for Wall, who was selected with the No. 1 overall pick by the Washington Wizards in 2010. Over nine seasons, Wall made an indelible impact both on and off the court in D.C., as he and his backcourt mate Bradley Beal brought the Wizards within one win of the Eastern Conference Finals in 2017.
Back when the trade was made official in early December, Beal quipped to reporters that he felt Wall would try to score 60 points in their first head-to-head meeting. Could Wall's first major scoring exploit as a Rocket come against his former team? What can we expect from Westbrook's undermanned Wizards? Here's a tale of the tape…
Through eight games, Wall is averaging 17.1 points, 5.5 assists and 4.3 rebounds on .444/.286/.821 shooting splits. While he's coming off of a seven-point performance (in a 25-point win), Wall displayed his signature burst in early parts of the season, reaching a season-high tally of 28 points twice already, most recently doing so against the Indiana Pacers on Jan. 6.
.@JohnWall finished the night with 28 points.- Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) January 7, 2021
Highlights ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/h2VbxaLXYW
Once looked at as one of the most explosive point guards the game has ever seen, the 30-year-old Wall has battled a bevy of injuries, missing over two calendar years of action due to heel surgery and a subsequent torn Achilles and five games this season due to knee soreness.
The same could be said for the 32-year-old Westbrook, who has recently missed time due to the same troubling quad injury that held him out of four postseason games in 2020. Despite his injury woes, Westbrook is averaging 18.0 points, 10.6 assists and 9.5 rebounds in eight games for a Wizards team that has had six games postponed due to the league's Health and Safety Protocols.
Tuesday night marks the 14th time that the two guards will meet and up to this point, Westbrook has gotten the best of Wall in nearly every matchup, with his teams holding an 11-2 record.
This could be the year that the tide turns as Wall and the 6-9 Rockets host Westbrook and the short-handed Wizards, who are 3-9 to start the season and, per the league's official injury report, will be without at least seven players on Tuesday.
Statistically speaking, it's Beal that could be the one who ends up with 60 on the night - he's done it once already this season and is averaging a league-leading 34.5 points through his first 11 games.
The best buckets from @RealDealBeal23's career-high 60-point night. pic.twitter.com/3l1obVJVhh- NBA (@NBA) January 7, 2021
With a serious depth disadvantage, Beal might need to turn in yet another big scoring night in order for Washington to have a chance.
While Houston recently moved on from James Harden, it acquired another one of Westbrook's former backcourt mates in Victor Oladipo, who is averaging 22.3 points, 6.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds over his first three games as a Rocket. Up to this point in his career, Oladipo has yet to earn a win over Westbrook (in seven tries) but due to various injury issues, the two haven't duelled since December 2017.
As former teammates face-off, there are a number of narratives and storylines that make this much different from a typical early-season matchup between two struggling teams.
Tune in on NBA League Pass to see if either the Rockets or Wizards can use a late January victory to build momentum to turn the season around.
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