The Minnesota Timberwolves' chances to go on a stretch of games to get themselves back in the playoff picture is quickly running out with just 18 games to go this season. They may be getting a bit of relief as this season-long 7-game road trip will painstakingly come to an end tonight! The TWolves have gone 2-4, thus far.
Since Ricky Rubio went down with his torn ACL & LCL, the TWolves have lost 5 of 7, since that March 9th game.
The Oklahoma City Thunder will be going for an 11-consecutive victory over the Timberwolves in this one and are already 1-0 against them this season. The Thunder have faltered a bit as of late as they haven't won two-consecutive victories since March 5th-7th.
The TWolves' last win over the Thunder came January 7, 2009. The TWolves won that one 129-87! Over the last 11 meetings since then between these two teams, Kevin Durant has been key in OKC's victories by averaging 31.4ppg!
It's no secret, the Thunder have become one of the powerhouses in the NBA led by Durant, Westbrook & Harden. Oklahoma City are #1 in the Western Conference currently, with a 35-12 record. The Minnesota Timberwolves are currently #11 in the Western Conference, with a 23-25 record. The Thunder are 20-4 at home, while the TWolves are 11-13 on the road. Lastly, OKC is 6-4 in their last 10, while Minnesota is 4-6.
The Thunder's last game was a win over the Clippers on Wednesday, 114-91. Kevin Durant had 32pts, 9reb, 5ast; Westbrook added 19pts; Serge had 15pts & 8reb. The Thunder protected the paint and played very physical in the win. A big key was limiting Blake Griffin to just 7pts.
The likely starting lineups will be: Ridnour--Russell Westbrook (23.7ppg, 6.1apg, 5.3rpg), Webster--Thabo Sefelosha (5.2ppg, 2.1rpg, 3.3apg), Johnson--Kevin Durant (33ppg, 2.9apg, 8.6rpg), Williams--Serge Ibaka (8.8ppg, 7.8rpg, 3.3bpg), Love--Kendrick Perkins (4.3ppg, 6.3rpg, 1.2bpg).
"Pek is huge for us, he's the guy we can throw it into and know we can get easy buckets. He can keep the other team off the glass. It was tough for us," says Kevin Love following Wednesday's loss to the Spurs. With Pekovic out, it's likely the TWolves will go with a starting frontcourt of Kevin Love at center and rookie Derrick Williams at power forward. Why not Darko? Here's the story on that: Darko's Dedication & Motivation Non-Existent...As Per Usual.
Wesley Johnson vs. Kevin Durant: I've accepted that Wes won't blow up one game and score 20+ in a game this season, however, his defense is what keeps him in the starting lineup! I have no doubt Durant will score 25-30 tonight. I highly doubt Wes is going to be able to stop him or even slow him down! PLEASE WES! SURPRISE US! Time for some lockdown D!
Kevin Love vs. Perkins or Ibaka: I don't know how the Thunder's frontcourt will matchup with Minnesota's. I'm not even certain Minnesota will indeed start D-Will & Love. Adelman may throw Darko out there suddenly or even Miller (highly doubt on both). Let's say they do start Love at center, who will matchup with D-Will & Love, then? Both are players that can play inside & out. Perkins isn't a really mobile defender that normally won't stray too far from the paint, is he going to be able to close out on Love on the perimeter? I doubt Perkins will matchup with Williams, whose even quicker. This quicker frontcourt could be a big advantage or disadvantage for Minnesota. Real decisive answer, for ya, huh?
FINAL NOTES: Derek Fisher made his debut with the Thunder in their last game vs. the Clippers. That was after he was traded by the Lakers to the Rockets, agreed to a buyout and signed with OKC. He played 19 minutes, had 5pts, 1reb, 1ast, 1blk. Definitely brings championship pedigree to this young Thunder team.......AccuScore has OKC as the clear favorite: 90%-10%, OKC by 10.5, with an O/U: 0.0........Ricky underwent successful knee surgery on Wed. to repair his ACL, they also found damage to his LCL, which they also had to reconstruct, here's the full report: Rubio Undergoes Successful Surgery........
PROJECTED FINAL OUTCOME: Minnesota 92, Oklahoma City 105
TIPOFF: Tonight's game will tip from Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City at 7pmCT.
Thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!