- When: Wednesday, 05 February 2014 at 7:00 PM CST
- Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
Two games in and I already miss January. It’s kind of a drag having to watch Kevin Durant score only 28.5 points per game. I mean, he looks downright superhuman out there, which is a notch below the deity like figure he became in the first month of the year. After suffering their annual loss in Washington D.C., the Thunder got back on track with a home victory over the surging Memphis Grizzlies. That was their first victory over the Grizzlies in 5 tries without the services of Russell Westbrook.
It doesn’t matter whether the game is in Minneapolis or in Oklahoma City, the Timberwolves always seem to give the Thunder fits. The Thunder have held the advantage in the past 5 season, winning 15 of their last 18 meetings, but every game is usually a very spirited affair. It has been no different this season. In the first meeting of the season, the Timberwolves blew out the Thunder. The Thunder returned the favor in the 2nd meeting, winning 113-103. It was the 3rd meeting of the season between these two that was more akin to how their games usually play out. This was the game, I think, that started the Reaping. With the Thunder down by 13 half a minute into the 4th quarter, Durant went on to outscore the Timberwolves 23-21 during the rest of the quarter. His play, along with that of Jeremy Lamb, Reggie Jackson, and Serge Ibaka helped the Thunder come from behind to secure a 115-111 victory.
The Timberwolves come into the game with a 24-24 record, 3.5 games out of the 8th spot in the Western Conference. To say that this season has been a bit of a disappointment would be an understatement. With health finally on their side, the T-Wolves were supposed to in the thick of the playoff race, not on the outside looking in. They boast a top 3 offense and are 7th in the league in Margin Of Victory (MOV). But their defense in terms of opponent’s ppg is in the bottom third of the league (20th) and they seem to find a way to lose close games. The offense is guided by PG Ricky Rubio, who’s continues to dazzle as a playmaker, but offers little else in the perimeter game. Ex-Thunder 6th man Kevin Martin signed with Minnesota in the offseason and is their second leading scorer. Kevin Love is having an excellent season, averaging 25.6 points and 13.2 rebounds. The Timberwolves’ bench has the ability to be explosive, but is a bit muted because of the absence of Nikola Pekovic and Corey Brewer.
Probable Starting Line-ups
- PG – Ricky Rubio
- SG – Kevin Martin
- SF – Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
- PF – Kevin Love
- C – Ronny Turiaf
Oklahoma City Thunder
- PG – Reggie Jackson
- SG – Thabo Sefolosha
- SF – Kevin Durant
- PF – Serge Ibaka
- C – Kendrick Perkins
3 Keys to the Game
1. Depth – The Timberwolves are currently down 2 starters, and possibly 3 depending how Kevin Love woke up this morning after that nasty fall he took last night. The Thunder’s depth may allow them to blow this game open when the starters are resting.
2. Timberwolves’ Front Line – With Pekovic out, does it really make sense to play Perkins that much? Ibaka and Nick Collison (or Kevin Durant) may be better suited to guard the Turiaf/Love front line, than Ibaka/Perk.
3. Rebounding – The T-Wolves are in the top 3 in rebounds per game. It’s a major part of their game and acts as an equalizer to their lack of defense. Turiaf is a much more active rebounder than Pekovic, and can present a different set of problems than Pekovic’s size presents. It’ll be very important to keep them off the offensive glass.