OKC Thunder (32-21, 16-11 road) at Minnesota Timberwolves (13-43, 9-19 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 106.0 (20th), Timberwolves – 101.2 (29th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 102.5 (3rd), Timberwolves – 110.3 (27th)
Pace: Thunder – 92.4 (16th), Timberwolves – 95.9 (3rd)
View from the enemy: Howlin T-Wolf
First a little news: From Adrian Wojnarowski: “OKC is planning to sign Antonio Anderson of D-League’s Rio Grande — 15 ppg and 6 assists — to 10 day contract, league source says.” So there’s that.
No time to reflect on last night’s thriller. It’s on to the next one for the Thunder. Luckily, they aren’t in Cleveland or Denver, but in Minneapolis. But all the same, this is a game Oklahoma City is certainly capable of losing. Especially considering three starters played 47 minutes last night.
But this is where the focus and hunger of this team is supposed to press them forward. It’s these types of games where you’re surely going to be tired and it would be easy to lose some energy out of the gates. The first six minutes will be important because it’ll set a tone for the game, but also will kind of key us in to the kind of energy level the Thunder’s going to bring.
Minnesota coming in: The T-Wolves last played Friday night at home, losing to Chicago. That was the Wolves fifth straight loss and they’re six out of 10. Nine of Minnesota’s 13 wins have come at home.
The Minnesota offense revolves around Al Jefferson and in the last meeting, Serge Ibaka really did an excellent job in the late stages on Big Al. It’ll be a tag team combo on him with Nenad Krstic, Nick Collison and Jeff Green, as well as Ibaka seeing time on him. Corey Brewer has become one of the go-to guys for the Wolves and he’s also a quality defender. He’ll likely guard Kevin Durant, but I’d imagine Thabo will check him on the other end.
OKC has a large advantage in bench play, as Minnesota brings Ramon Sessions, Sasha Pavlovic, Damien Wilkins and for now, Kevin Love off the pine. James Harden has just found such a perfect role for the Thunder off the bench and really keys OKC’s second unit. Darko Milicic was recently added for Minny, but I don’t know exactly how much time he’ll see. Any game with Darko involved, I’m interested in.
The Wolves just don’t have a lot of options offensively and they should certainly struggle putting the ball in the bucket. OKC’s defense was a little lackadaisical against New York, so one would think the Thunder would like to get back to defending at a high level in this one.
Last time in Minnesota, OKC squeaked out a two-point and for the most part sleepwalked through a win. The Wolves have talent and if you don’t come ready to play from the tip, you could drop one you shouldn’t. The Thunder’s starting to develop a target on their back, so if they aren’t ready, someone could sneak up on them. It’s all about early focus and if it’s not there, that’s where Scott Brooks comes in.
Tip at 6:00 CST. Go Fresh Legs.