Thunder @ Timberwolves Preview (Game 64 of 82)

okc logo at twolves

  • When: Tuesday, 05 March 2019 at 7:00 pm CST
  • Where: Target Center, Minneapolis, MN
  • TV: FSOK
  • Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 930 AM (Spanish))
  • Line: MIN -2.0 | O/U: 236.5
  • Off Rating: OKC – 109.9 (15th) | MIN – 110.6 (12th)
  • Def Rating: OKC – 105.6 (3rd) | MIN – 111.0 (20th)

Injuries never come at a good time. Gordon Hayward got injured at the beginning of the season last year and Boston’s entire game plan had to change from that point on. It worked for them, as they made all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals, but a healthy Hayward, in his prime, may have pushed them even further.

Last season, the Oklahoma City Thunder were just beginning to click when Andre Roberson went down with a torn patella tendon. The team, especially on the defensive end, was never the same after that and got bounced in the first round by the Utah Jazz.

This season, the Thunder were one of the top teams heading into the All-Star break. They had won 11 of their last 13 games and went on to win their first game after the break. Since then, though, they’ve lost four out of their last five, with Paul George missing the last three games with a sore shoulder. With Portland, Houston, and Utah catching up, and OKC embarking on a four game road trip, how big will George’s injury factor into where the Thunder will finish in the standings?

George is currently listed as being questionable for tonight’s game.

The Opponent

Minnesota is currently 2-0 against the Thunder this season. They are battling to stay relevant in the West’s playoff scene, but with little more than a month left before the regular season ends and Minnesota six games out of the eighth spot, you have to wonder how much fight this team has left. They are currently riding a three-game losing streak, with all the L’s coming on the road.

3 Big Things

1. Karl-Anthony Towns is a problem. Over the last 10 games, he is averaging 31 points and 13 rebounds on 63% shooting from the field. The stat lines from his last four games have been ridiculous: 34/21, 37/18, 42/17, and (only) 28/10. Steven Adams usually does a great job against Towns. In their two meetings this season, Towns is averaging 19 points and 6.5 boards. Adams, on the other hand, is averaging 16 and 8 against Minnesota’s prized big man.

2. If Towns is a problem, Andrew Wiggins has been an assassin against the Thunder. Wiggins has killed the Thunder this season. He is averaging 35 points and 7.5 rebounds on 50/50/78.5 shooting splits. Surprisingly, Wiggins only has four 30+ point scoring games this season, all against teams in the top-5 in defensive rating (OKC (x2), Utah, and Boston). If Paul George is out, the Thunder would be hard-pressed to find someone that can match Wiggins’ athleticism and size on the wing. Jerami Grant would make sense, but he’s a tad bit slower than Wiggins.

3. Attack the Timberwolves. Minnesota has given up 126.6 points over their last 5 games. One of the first things to go on a team that doesn’t look like they are going to make the playoffs is their defensive willpower. In losing four of their last five, this appears to be true for Minnesota. If the Thunder, even without Paul George, can find a way to hit their shots at even an average clip, they should be able to stay in this game and make is competitive, which is when they usually operate at their best.

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