Timberwolves (9-9, 3-6 road) vs. Thunder (11-3, 8-0 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 105.4 (11th), Wolves – 107.1 (8th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 100.7 (5th), Wolves – 102.2 (8th)
Pace: Thunder – 96.8 (5th), Wolves – 98.4 (2nd)
The Thunder can accomplish a couple things tonight, including going 6-0 on this homestand, and also completing the circle to avenge all previous losses in it. I thought 5-1 in these six games would be really good, but that’s now guaranteed. So 6-0 would be better. And certainly very attainable with the Wolves coming in, who are good but have been inconsistent on the road and are on the second of a back-to-back.
The last time the Thunder played the Wolves, it was one of the ugliest games in the last five years with Minnesota completely torching OKC in every way. But that was also the last game the Thunder played without Russell Westbrook (not counting the Jazz win, obviously), so it’s hard to really read into much. That night though, Ricky Rubio shredded OKC’s guards in pick-and-roll while Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Love had their way inside. It was a total beatdown. Something to remember.
Minnesota coming in: Beat the Mavs last night.
Three Big Things
1. Outlets. Kevin Love to Kevin Martin/Corey Brewer is basically Tom Brady to Randy Moss circa 2007. I’d say you’ve got to get back, but when a guy can throw missiles like that, there’s not much you can do it seems. But those create easy points for the Wolves and crank up tempo in their favor. They like to play fast, mainly because Love-to-whoever creates one second possessions.
2. Paint protection. The Wolves are an improved perimeter team, mainly by virtue of having Love back healthy and the addition of Martin, but still, they are spotty from the outside. But if you let them get going inside, that opens up things on the 3-point line. Limit Pekovic and Love the best you can and take your chances contesting their jumpers.
3. Focus. I think there’s a certain worry of monotony tonight, because this is another home game over a two-week span. I think the energy and effort could be an issue, so making sure there’s no let down and everyone is keyed up is important. Especially because the Wolves are going to be tired, so best to expose that.
Tip at 6:00 CT. Go Six And Oh.