Time: 7:00 PM CST
TV: Thunder Mobile App / OKCThunder.com
Radio:WWLS (98.1 FM OKC / 97.1 FM Tulsa)
The preseason continues tonight in Minnesota, as the Oklahoma City Thunder are in Minneapolis for a showdown with Karl Anthony-Towns and the Minnesota Timberwolves. These Northwest Division foes are both missing some valuable pieces — the Thunder due to injury, while the Timberwolves are mired in the Jimmy Butler saga. Regardless, the regular season begins in just 11 days and there’s still much to be ironed out — especially in the wake of Andre Roberson’s setback while rehabilitating his left knee.
Tonight’s game tips-off at 7:00 PM CST and will be streamed live on the Thunder mobile app and OKCThunder.com.
- Russell Westbrook: Out — Knee
- Andre Roberson: Out — Knee
- Abdel Nader: Out — Knee
- Jimmy Butler: Out — Wants Out
- Justin Patton: Out — Foot
T-Wolves: Jeff Teague, Derrick Rose, Andrew Wiggins, Taj Gibson, Karl Anthony-Towns
What to Watch For
The Shooting Guards: With Andre Roberson scheduled for an extended absence after yesterday’s knee procedure, the Thunder’s shooting guard rotation takes center stage. At this point, it seems clear that Terrance Ferguson will slide into the starting five on a semi-permanent basis. Per Erik Horne of The Oklahoman, Billy Donovan had this to say about his options at the position: “I haven’t gotten a really good look at him because he’s been out,” Donovan said of Nader. “Tim (Luwawu-Cabarrot) has done a nice job and he’s been involved in practice. Alex has been out some with his lower back. We haven’t really had a full allotment of those wing players you’ve talked about. The one constant has been Terrance (Ferguson).”
With Nader out again due to a knee injury, Donovan’s options at shooting guard will mirror what existed in Wednesday’s preseason opener. Expect plenty of Ferguson, with Abrines, Luwawu-Cabarrot, and Hamidou Diallo seeing time, as well. KJ McDaniels and Deonte Burton drew DNPs against the Pistons on Wednesday, but could also be in line for an opportunity tonight. Now is the time for Billy to fully examine every option.
PG13 Back: Paul George missed Wednesday’s tilt with the Pistons due to a personal matter, but he is with the team and available for action tonight in Minnesota. As the leader of this team as long as Russell Westbrook is out of the lineup, George will likely have the ball in his hands often on the offensive end. His chemistry with Dennis Schroder is also a point of emphasis — a budding relationship that looked formidable when they shared the floor during Sunday’s Blue/White scrimmage.
Don’t Hate on the Schrodie: Schroder made his Thunder debut on Wednesday, dropping 21 points, 5 rebounds, and 9 assists in a team-high 27 minutes of action. He shot 5-of-16 in the contest and really struggled in the mid-range — although he did go 2-of-3 from long distance. Look for him to stay aggressive (it’s the only way he plays), but preferably a bit more selective when pulling the trigger with George available to help carry the scoring load. He and Steven Adams are already showcasing an impressive connection in the PnR, and I’d expect much more of that in this one.
Bounce Back for the Bench Bigs: Wednesday night was more than forgettable for Nerlens Noel and Jerami Grant — they shot a combined 3-of-16 from the floor and failed to make the impact needed when the regular season rolls around. They’ll both look to shake that off and make their mark on this one. I don’t suspect they’ll struggle the same way again tonight.
Steve vs Karl: Andre Drummond was able to go for 31 points and 16 rebounds on Wednesday (not all against Adams), but the Thunder big will again have his hands full tonight. Anthony-Towns has historically played very well against the Big Kiwi, averaging 22 & 12 in their head-to-head meetings. This is the match-up to watch, particularly in the first half when they will likely play the majority of their minutes. Adams is no slouch offensively, which should be a point of emphasis against a weak defender in Towns.
Nick Gallo on the Thunder’s approach to tonight’s contest: