The Minnesota Timberwolves were officially eliminated from the playoffs with Thursday's loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. Minnesota's struggles in the past month have been well-documented! Currently riding a season-worst 8-game losing streak, it's doubtful they'll be able to end that streak vs. the Western Conference's best team.
The Thunder have clinched the Northwest division as well as a playoff berth. Though the San Antonio Spurs are just a half a game behind the Thunder for that #1 seed in the West.
The Timberwolves are currently 25-35 on the year, 13-16 at home, 1-9 in their last 10 games and are riding that 8-game losing streak. A small bit of 'good news' even if Minnesota loses their remaining games, they'll only end the year on a 14-game skid--compared to last season ending on a 15-game skid...I don't know if you can consider that 'good news', though. The Oklahoma City Thunder are 42-16 on the season, 18-10 on the road and 6-4 in their last 10 games.
Let's get a look at each team's last five games...
Although the Thunder play the Sacramento Kings tonight (4/13), as of right now, both MIN & OKC are coming off losses to the Los Angeles Clippers. The Thunder lost 98-100. Chris Paul drove the lane and hit the game winning shot, with 8.8 seconds to play. As he went through the Thunder's to best defenders: around Thabo Sefelosha and over Serge Ibaka. Kevin Durant had a chance to win it at the buzzer, but missed a three-pointer over DeAndre Jordan for the loss. Durant finished with 22pts & 9reb, Westbrook had 20pts & 7ast and Harden added 17pts off the bench. You can find the TWolves vs. Clippers recap in the previous post under the 'Gameday' section on this site.
Unfortunately, I don't think we can expect the kind of game we witnessed, the last time these two teams matched up. That game, was the 51-point explosion for Love, 40+ for both Westbrook & Durant and a double-overtime loss for Minnesota.
Why is that? Well, the TWolves will likely be without Kevin Love. He went down vs. the Nuggets after an elbow from JaVale McGee to his temple sent him tumbling to the floor. He was diagnosed with a mild concussion and a sprained neck. There's some talk about shutting him down for the season. Luke Ridnour has been out since spraining his ankle vs. the Kings, he'll likely be a gametime decision.
We've chartered into "PUT THEM OUT OF THEIR MISERY" territory! Fans & players alike are wishing the season was over already. Especially in light of this 8-game losing streak and the barrage of injuries to guys like Love, J.J., Luke, Pek, Wayne, Beas & Darko.
Let's get a look at the probable starting lineups...
Ridnour/Barea vs. Russell Westbrook (24.2ppg, 5.4apg, 1.7spg)
Martell Webster vs. Thabo Sefelosha (5.0ppg, 2.8rpg, 0.9spg)
Wesley Johnson vs. Kevin Durant (27.5ppg, 7.9rpg, 1.4spg)
Derrick Williams vs. Serge Ibaka (9.0ppg, 7.6rpg, 3.6bpg)
Nikola Pekovic vs. Kendrick Perkins (4.9ppg, 6.3rpg, 1.2bpg)
The Oklahoma City Thunder boast the 2nd-best offense in the NBA, scoring 102.7ppg. They're also the 8th-best rebounding team in the NBA at 43.2rpg. With a scoring point guard instead of a pass-first (Westbrook) OKC is the 2nd-worst team in assists: 18.5 a game. They're also ranked 16th in the NBA, allowing 96.3ppg for opponents.
Tipoff for this one is set for 7pmCT from the Target Center, Saturday April 14.
Thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!