Preview 21 of 82: Timberwolves @ Thunder
Time: 7:00 PM CT
TV: NBA TV / Fox Sports Oklahoma
Radio: WWLS (98.1 FM OKC / 97.1 FM Tulsa)
Game Notes: Thunder / Timberwolves
The Oklahoma City Thunder has dropped three straight, bringing the overall record to 8-12 after 20 games of the 2017-18 season. Despite the understanding that it would take time for the new-look roster to gel, the on-court product has performed far worse than most projected. It’s been a frustrating start for both the team and the fans who cheer for it.
The Thunder faces the 13-9 Minnesota Timberwolves tonight at Chesapeake Energy Arena — the third time the teams will see one another in the early part of the season. Minnesota took the first two contests by a combined five points, with both games being available for the Thunder in the final minutes. As OKC’s crunch time issues are well-documented at this point, that doesn’t necessarily come as a surprise.
Tip off is at 7:00 PM CT and will be televised on NBA TV and Fox Sports Oklahoma. Let’s get into some notes on the Northwest Division showdown.
- Jeff Teague: Questionable — Achilles
- Nemanja Bjelica: Questionable — Foot
- Justin Patton: Out — Foot
T-Wolves Starters: Tyus Jones, Jimmy Butler, Andrew Wiggins, Taj Gibson, Karl-Anthony Towns (Jeff Teague will replace Tyus Jones if active)
|Team||EFG%||FTA Rate||TOV%||OREB%||OPP EFG%||OPP FTA||OPP TOV%||OPP OREB%|
Nov 22: MIN 115, OKC 113 [BOX SCORE]
Nov 27: MIN 119, OKC 116 [BOX SCORE]
The First Two. Minnesota is 2-0 against the Thunder this season, with the two games being decided by a combined five points. In a bizarro visit to the upside down, OKC outscored Minnesota by a combined total of 116-114 in the second halves of those contests. The Thunder actually held a one point advantage as time expired on November 22, but an Andrew Wiggins prayer banked in to give the T-Wolves the win.
Russell Westbrook. Russell Westbrook is averaging 29 points, 9.5 assists and 6.5 rebounds in the two games versus Minnesota — shooting a combined 52 percent from the field and 54 percent from downtown. Recent history suggests he could be in for a strong outing, which is a needed event for the struggling Thunder.
The Big Men. Steven Adams and Karl Anthony-Towns have been great against one another this season. Adams is averaging 18.5 points and 10.5 rebounds, with KAT dropping 30 and 15.5. As always, Adams will need to survive the Minnesota pick-and-roll if KAT is going to be held below those averages. Could be another long night if Adams again struggles in that area.
More Andre. In Minnesota’s 119-116 win over OKC on November 27, Andre Roberson inexplicably logged just 10 minutes of action. Jimmy Butler put the team on his back down the stretch as Roberson sat, scoring 9 of his 25 points in the last five minutes of the game. Roberson should see far more action this time around, as Butler and Andrew Wiggins demand a lot of attention on the wing.
Northwest Blues. The Thunder is 0-5 against Northwest Division opponents this season — putting OKC in last place in the division. Minnesota is 4-0 against divisional opponents and currently sits in first place.
Home Cooking. Factoring in Andrew Wiggins’ half court buzzer-beater on November 22, the Timberwolves are just 3-15 all time when playing at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Russell Westbrook says the Thunder’s second half struggles aren’t due to miscommunication. Via Erik Horne.
I was emailed the following video yesterday with a message that read, “I present the greatest team CHANT of all time. If the OKC fans roar out this fight song at the Peake it will propel the Thunder team to do its best. That is a fact. It’s psychologically motivating.”
So if you’re going to the game tonight… I don’t know. Maybe try it out or something. Probably worth a shot.