Time: 7:00 PM CST
TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma
The Thunder (39-24) are on the road in Minnesota tonight, taking on the Timberwolves (29-34) in a Northwest Division showdown. The T-Wolves have a 2-0 lead in the season series, yet find themselves 11th in the Western Conference and six games back of the 8th place Spurs. The Thunder, on the other hand, remain third in the West, but have lost five of their last seven and could be without Paul George (shoulder) yet again in this one. An absence would be his fourth straight.
Tip-off is at 7:00 PM CST and will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma. The Thunder are 1-point road underdogs according to Odds Shark.
Update: Paul George is ACTIVE and in the starting lineup.
- Paul George: ACTIVE — Shoulder
- Andre Roberson: Out — Knee
- Robert Covington: Out — Knee
- Luol Deng: Out — Achilles
T-Wolves: Jeff Teague, Josh Okogie, Andrew Wiggins, Dario Saric, Karl-Anthony Towns
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What to Watch For
Paul George. After missing the last three games with shoulder soreness, PG is listed as questionable tonight in Minnesota. George is progressing according to Erik Horne of The Oklahoman, but the MVP candidate’s status won’t be determined until closer to tip off.
According to Thunder coach Billy Donovan, George has made progress with his sore right shoulder and the Thunder will re-evaluate him leading up to Tuesday night’s game against Minnesota. George walked out of the Thunder’s morning shootaround at the Target Center with his right shoulder wrapped in ice.
“He did a little bit more than he did yesterday and the day before,” Donovan said. “Any time he does anything physical (we) take some time to see how he responds.”Erik Horne / Oklahoman
Getting One Back. The Thunder lost the first two match-ups against the T-Wolves this season by a combined four points, as Minnesota took a 114-112 win on December 23, then a 119-117 decision on January 8. Though the Wolves have lost three straight and find themselves outside of the playoff picture, OKC needs to take a step toward evening the season series. Every game, particularly against Western Conference opponents, matters. A Thunder loss and a Trail Blazers win versus Memphis would push OKC into fifth place in the West.
The Brodie. Russell Westbrook has averaged 24 points, eight rebounds, and 13 assists against Minnesota this season, shooting 51.2 percent (28.5% 3P) in the process. Should George again be sidelined, the Thunder’s chances at victory will depend on the effectiveness of the former MVP. Russ was horrific for most of Sunday against Memphis, posting 10 points on 3-of-13 shooting for a plus/minus of -15 through three quarters. Though he scored 12 points in the fourth and led OKC to an improbable comeback victory, the Thunder were lucky to be facing one of the NBA’s worst teams. Westbrook will need to be at his best, with or without George (but especially without him).
Rolling Kiwi. Steven Adams had himself a ball game on Sunday vs the Grizzlies, scoring 13 points and grabbing 22 rebounds in his 32 minutes of action. Big Kiwi had been rather quiet in the five games prior, so it was nice to see him enjoy a dominant effort. He could give the Thunder a monster boost with a similar performance tonight in Minnesota, as he’ll be matched up with Karl-Anthony Towns — the Wolves’ leading scorer at 23.9 PPG. Towns isn’t the world’s best defender, but he’s shooting 39.5 percent from long range this season and could create chaos by pulling Adams out of the paint and opening lanes to the rim. Nerlens Noel (whose only played 17 combined minutes in the last two games) should probably get an extended look if Towns starts terrorizing the OKC defense.
Offensive Glass. OKC leads the league in offensive rebounding at 12.3 ORPG, resulting in the third-highest number of second-chance points (14.7 per game). Minnesota is third in offensive rebounding at 11.7 ORPG, but score the most second-chance points (15.7). The team that keeps the other from creating more looks for themselves off the offensive glass will have a definite advantage. Another reason why Adams should do his best to stay home and not get pulled to the perimeter. Teams try that against OKC often and it generally works.
Stopping the Wolves. Towns leads Minnesota in scoring at 23.9 PPG, followed by (among healthy players) Derrick Rose (18.2 PPG), Andrew Wiggins (17.6 PPG), Jeff Teague (11.9 PPG), and Taj Gibson (10.7 PPG). The biggest concern here is Wiggins (don’t hear that often), as he’s averaging 35 PPG against the Thunder this season — including a 40-piece (11/24 FG, 2/4 3P, 14/16 FT) last time out. If George can’t go, Terrance Ferguson could end up having a long night chasing Wiggins around.
NICK GALLO’s game day report: