Preview 40 of 82: Timberwolves @ Thunder
Time: 7:00 PM CST
TV: NBA TV / FSOK
Game Notes: Thunder / T-Wolves
Coming off Sunday night’s brutal loss the the Wizards, the Thunder (25-14) are back in action tonight in Oklahoma City — taking on the Minnesota Timberwolves (19-21) at Chesapeake Energy Arena. The Northwest Division showdown features a Thunder team that is currently second in the division and third in the Western Conference overall. The Timberwolves, however, are last in the division, 11th in the West and recently fired coach Tom Thibodeau after the disappointing start to the 2018-19 campaign.
Tip-off is at 7:00 PM CST and will be televised on NBA TV and Fox Sports Oklahoma. The Thunder are eight-point home favorites according to Odds Shark.
- Dennis Schroder: Questionable — Quad
- Alex Abrines: Out — Personal
- Andre Roberson: Out — Knee
- Robert Covington: Out — Knee
- Derrick Rose: Out — Ankle
T-Wolves: Jeff Teague, Josh Okogie, Andrew Wiggins, Taj Gibson, Karl-Anthony Towns
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What to Watch For
Last Time. Minnesota won the first match-up between the teams this season, taking a 114-112 victory when Andrew Wiggins hit the go ahead layup with 14 seconds remaining — and George’s potential game-winner failed to drop at the buzzer. Wiggins led way with 30 points on 11-of-20 shooting. Karl-Anthony Towns added 18 points and six assists. The Wolves as a team went 14-of-27 (51.9 percent) from long range to down the Thunder despite a 23-11-10 triple-double from Westbrook and 31 points, 12 rebounds from PG13.
Thunder Bounce Back. The Thunder looked absolutely horrific on Sunday, as the Wizards cruised to an easy 116-98 victory. OKC was out-rebounded 55-41 in the contest and were only able to force Washington into nine turnovers. If the Thunder want to get back to their winning ways, they’ll need to do everything better tonight against the Timberwolves.
Big Man Battle. Though it was Wiggins who led the way for Minnesota in the December 23 win over OKC, Towns will likely be the focal point for the Thunder defense tonight. The 23-year-old big man is averaging 22.4 points and 12.4 rebounds on the season and figures to keep Steven Adams plenty busy tonight. The T-Wolves give up 11.5 offensive rebounds per game — third-most in the NBA. Adams can give the Thunder a leg up if he can take advantage.
The Westbrook Pattern. Here are Westbrook’s shooting percentages over the last ten games:
- 8/19 (42.1)
- 3/17 (17.6)
- 10/19 (52.6%)
- 6/20 (30%)
- 17/29 (58.6%)
- 4/22 (18.2%)
- 13/24 (54.2%)
- 3/20 (15%)
- 13/28 (46.4%)
- 9/23 (39.1)
Though he’s averaging a triple-double (again), Westbrook’s shooting has been volatile and inconsistent to say the least. His recent pattern of games suggests he’s in for a 40+ percent effort — but who really knows? None of this makes a tremendous amount of sense but he simply must improve if the Thunder are serious about contending. He’s hit 43.8 percent of his shots in wins compared to 38.3 percent in losses.
Shooting Guards. Though Alex Abrines turned up at Thunder practice today, he’s still scheduled to miss another game due to “personal” reasons. In his place, Abdel Nader will again see more opportunity. As always, Terrance Ferguson will draw the start and assist in making sure Wiggins doesn’t hand the Thunder another 30-piece.
To Keep An Eye On. A late addition to the injury report: