Minnesota Timberwolves (14-45, 5-25 road) vs. OKC Thunder (33-23, 16-11 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 106.1 (18th), Timberwolves – 101.3 (29th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 102.9 (4th), Timberwolves – 110.0 (25th)
Pace: Thunder – 92.6 (16th), Timberwolves – 95.8 (3rd)
View from the enemy: Howlin T-Wolf
REMEMBER: DT Pregame Party Night Fun Time. Be there.
Why am I so nervous about this one? Is it because the Thunder’s lost two straight and it feels like we’ll never win again? Is it because OKC is playing the Timberwolves a second time in just four days? Is it because the other two games have been unnecessarily close? Is it because I’m a slightly paranoid Thunder fan that isn’t totally used to winning? Yeah, it’s probably that last one.
These two teams played just five days ago, so I’ll make most of this brief. Not much has changed since the Thunder last played Minnesota. The Wolves still struggle to score, don’t have a reliable go-to scorer and Al Jefferson is still not playing like himself. Minnesota did drop 107 points on OKC last time, but I’ve got to think the Thunder will tighten the reins this time. But the Wolves have been defending pretty well lately too, so this could be a low scoring affair.
Minnesota coming in: Since the teams played last Sunday, the Timberwolves went 1-1 with a win at Miami against a Wade-less Heat team. They last played Wednesday, losing to Atlanta on the road. Tonight’s game wraps up a three-game road trip for the Wolves. They’re 3-7 in their last 10 and 5-25 on the road.
I guess I should say watch out for Darko. The Serbian dropped eight points and eight rebound with a plus-35 against OKC last time. However, he hasn’t been able to follow that up quality production. Against Atlanta, in 10 minutes he had two rebounds and zero points. But Ryan Hollins was big, leading the Wolves with 18 points. He was basically non-existent Sunday, so if he plays well along with Al Jefferson, the Wolves may have something. Nick Collison and Serge Ibaka are available to play tonight, but I wouldn’t want to guess how much court time they’ll see.
Corey Brewer really hinges the Minnesota offense. If he’s shooting and scoring well, the team is kind of dangerous. Thabo will likely get the assignment on him, along with Kevin Durant switching over as well. And off the bench Kevin Love has been playing excellent basketball lately. So again, this could be a bad night for the Thunder to potentially need help inside. Cross your fingers Collison and Ibaka are completely ready.
This is a big game because the Thunder need to right the ship. Dropping a third straight would be bad, but dropping a home game to a 14-45 team would be REALLY bad. This is the start of a three-game home stand with all winnable games. I expect the team to come out focused and intense from the tip and get things done.
Tip at 7:00 CST. Go Win.