Oklahoma City Thunder (5-30) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (9-25)
Wednesday, Jan. 7
7:00 PM CST
TV: FS Oklahoma (Cox 37, HD 722)
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1, FM, 640 AM)
After losing streaks of 14, nine and then just five, the Thunder snapped a one-game losing, uh, streak. Sure sign of improvement. But one thing has been consistent in all five of OKC’s wins – sub-par opponents. And tonight, the Thunder gets another one, albeit on the road, in 9-25 Minnesota. The two teams are eerily similar. Minny averages 96.6 and surrenders 102.2. OKC averages 94.7 and gives up 102.7. They’re identical in rebounds per game (41.7) and nearly the same in field goal percentage (both under 45 percent). So far, the season series is split 1-1 with the Thunder taking the first one 88-85 and the Wolves taking game two on a Mike Miller buzzer-beater, 105-103.
I’m a little pressed for time today, so I’ll just give you five quick keys to tonight’s game.
1. The Thunder’s legs. Will they be tired after having to exert so much energy in holding off New York last night? In a perfect Thunder-world (see what I did there?), OKC would have finished the Knicks off by 25, Mo Sene would have seen some burn and KD, Russell and Jeff Green would’ve sat most of the fourth. Instead, Durant played 45, Green 36 and Westbrook 42. Right now, the Scott Brooks is rotating 8-9 players in and out. We may see more than that tonight due to jello legs.
2. Oklahoma City stinks on the road. The Thunder’s 1-15 away from Loud City. Not much to break down or analyze there. This is as good a time as any to notch another one though.
3. Nenad Krstic. I thought he’d play a few last night, but he wasn’t even in uniform. No word on whether or not he’ll play tonight. But we’re all excited to see what Nads could potentially bring. I’ll go ahead and stick with my predicted line from last night: 14 minutes, eight points, three boards, two assists and city of encouraged people.
4. Winning streak? Another crack at it. I actually don’t like this opportunity for two in a row as much as I liked the Denver game. Weird, huh? But as mentioned, the Thunder’s no good in roadies, having lost its last eight away from home. The Wolves have played rather decently as of late, winning three in a row. Had it not been for Carmelo Effing Anthony, we’d have a clash of the three-game win streak titans. But when a bad team is on a winning streak, the first thing I always think is, “They’re due for a loss. Because how long can they keep it up?” Hmm. I guess the same principle could apply to the Thunder as well…
5. Randy Foye vs. Russell Westbrook. Foye has been playing excellent as of late. So has Westbrook. Something’s gotta give in a matchup of quick on quick. Of course I like Russell because well, I like Russell. But the key is limiting Foye’s scoring while also keeping him off schedule – meaning, don’t let him have easy drive and dishes to Al Jefferson and Craig Smith because that’s how Minny gets a lot of points. Foye wants to shoot the three but Westbrook plays pretty stiff man up defense, so I think Westbrook can handle him. But as it goes for rooks, they’re due for a bad one every few nights and Russell has played a pretty good streak of good ones.