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Timberwolves vs. Thunder: Pregame Primer

Timberwolves vs. Thunder: Pregame Primer



Timberwolves (1-3, 0-2 road) vs. Thunder (4-1, 2-0 home)

Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 930 AM (Spanish))
Time: 5:00 PM CST

Team Comparisons (per NBA.com/Stats)

  • Offensive Rating: Thunder – 94.0 (29th), Timberwolves – 107.9 (7th)
    Defensive Rating: Thunder – 95.2 (4th), Timberwolves – 97.6 (5th)

Welp! That zero in the loss column was fun while it lasted. The Oklahoma City Thunder finally got tested by a better team and the results weren’t pretty. A 28-point loss to the Golden State Warriors in which Kevin Durant shredded his former team to the tune of 39 points on a career high seven 3-pointers. The atmosphere before was chock full of energy, but that subsided once Russell Westbrook went to the bench near the end of the first quarter. When Westbrook sat with 2:50 left in the first quarter, the Thunder held a 10 point lead. By the time he came back into the game with 9:36 left in the 2nd quarter, the Thunder were down by 6 and the momentum had completely shifted to the Warriors. Golden State never looked back from there.

This game showed the deficiencies that the Thunder incurred when they lost a player like Durant. But the game also had glimmers of hope. If you remove the 2nd and 4th quarters, and just look at the 1st and 3rd quarters (a.k.a. the quarters in which Westbrook played most of his minutes), the Thunder were only a -2. It was the 2nd quarter that completely killed the Thunder’s chances, getting outscored 37-11. In addition, Steven Adams and Victor Oladipo continue to develop in their roles. We all know what Westbrook can give you. If we can get optimum performance from Oladipo and Adams, then the Thunder will be that much better.

3 Big Things

1. Towns vs. Adams

Karl-Anthony Towns is the future of the big man. He can go inside, but also step out to the 3-point line and consistently make the outside shot. But Adams is the future of the defensive big man. He can bang inside, but is also mobile enough to guard wings for a short stretch of time. These two division rivals will likely lock horns consistently for the next 5-10 years.

2. Bench

The Thunder lost the game against the Warriors when the bench was mostly in the game. For as good as Oladipo is, he’s not at the level yet to consistently produce with lesser players out there with him. He’s a good number 2 and a great number 3. In addition, Semaj Christon is not a great playmaker. He’s serviceable as someone who can bring the ball up the floor, but once on the offensive end of the floor, there’s usually a lull because he’s not a great driver and he doesn’t have a consistent jumper. Also, if Enes Kanter isn’t scoring, then the points from the reserves goes significantly down. I expect the bench to bounce back in this game, especially with Donovan playing Morrow and Abrines a little bit more.

3. Transition Defense

The thing with playing a young team is that you have to get back on defense. If the Thunder concentrate too much on trying to grab offensive boards, they will get burned by the athletes the Timberwolves possess. Spend too much time trying to grab an offensive board and Zach Lavine, Andrew Wiggins, and Kris Dunn are already on the other end of the floor.