Minnesota @ OKC - Can Thunder Strike Twice? (Preview)

Wasn't our last win comical? How in the world did we survive with only one, yes... ONE, field-goal? On the bright side I can say that since I've started typing previews the Wolves have gone 2-1. Maybe there's something on a universal-scale that's occurring, but I digress.

We begin with a tale... of whether or not thunder (not lightning) can strike twice. Last time we walked into the Thunder's house, we got man-handled quite easily. We were in a myriad of injuries and their starters decided to have their way with us from beyond the arc, posting an audacious 55% FG% from beyond the arc.

... which brings us to now, where our Puppies are still in a myriad of injuries and the Thunder are still healthy as if they're all trying to run iron man competitions. The difference is now we get a healthy Rubio and a Derrick Williams that seems to be meshing well out in the wild. Having an AK is also very beneficial. Despite that, let's take a look...



Right away we'll replace Gelabale (whom I'm sorry I messed up the spelling last preview) with Kirilenko, but even then it's not looking too hot. Our starting rotation already seems to wilt under the sheer power of theirs, but there's hope... at least I think there is... somewhere in that lineup. The upside is that we know Pekovic should have his way with Perkins and we hope that D-Will continues his recently upward-trending play; the problem here is going to be our backcourt. There is no way that Rubio/Ridnour can go against Westbrook/Sefolosha and expect some sort of plausible win out of it. Don't expect too much help-defense from AK in this match-up, as he'll have his hands full guarding Durant (as if we didn't have enough defensive liabilities in the starting unit), so it looks like we'll be hoping that their second unit allows us to hold onto the game/stay in the game.

... but then there's Kevin Martin. The man couldn't shoot inside of 20 feet last game, but he (a) drained four three-pointers and (b) got to the line from time to time to post a +17. The second unit (whatever the Thunder call a second unit anyway) for the Thunder pretty much will rely on getting Kevin Martin open from time to time, so If Shved and the rest of the second unit can't make sure to keep an eye on him, it's going to be a long game...

So what's it really going to take for our boys to walk away from the House of Thunder with a win?

  • Have our starters keep up with their starters. Outside of Ibaka and somewhat of Durant, if it's one thing their backcourt sucks at is movement... on defense. I'm sure Sefolosha's playing a game with himself to see how little he actually has to move to defend, while Russell Westbrook is their version of our boy Luke for the most part. Hopefully Rubio and Ridnour attempt some sort of ball movement to confuse them and force the Thunder to have to break down their defense to help-defend the ball-handler.
  • Keep an eye on Kevin Martin in the 1.5 / 2nd unit. We need to watch out for him dropping three's really. Aside from him, Sefolosha makes the occasional three, and Westbrook and Durant can also stroke it. If anybody starts making consecutive treys over there, watch out.
  • Field a decent 2nd unit ourselves. I'm going to give the benefit of the doubt that because D-Will was doing so well during the 1st quarter that Adelman went with a lineup of Barea / Shved / Gelabale / Williams / Cunningham. Watching Cunningham attempt to contain Philly big-man Spencer Hawes was absolutely comical (almost). We shouldn't really do that, like-wise I'm wondering what Adelman's doing by saving Chris Johnson on the bench. I imagine that Steamer can't take down Perkins, but all CJ would have to do is just jump over him.
  • 3-point FG%. Enough said.

And... as always, just some things to note (just to get it off my chest really)...

  • Adelman and his fascination with the "three-guard" lineup. I'm almost certain that he continually plays this lineup simply to confuse the opponents through having the ball just go around in circles. Personally, if he's going to continue some sort of hodge-podge three guard lineup I want to see Rubio / Ridnour / Shved / Williams / Johnson. The amount of creative jumping on that field would be absolutely hilarious. Speaking of Chris Johnson...
  • Why isn't he playing? I mean, don't get me wrong... Greg Stiemsma is improving on the offensive sets, but I can't help but wonder what kind of dynamic Chris Johnson can bring to the table, even if it's only for like 5 minutes or so... Just watching the Houston vs. Minnesota game is pretty mesmerizing. Watching him just jump over the Houston front court to grab a rebound was just awesome. If we get a CJ sighting, it needs to be paired with Rubio at the least, but having Kirilenko on the field as well would be a bonus.
  • Gelabale's hair. Dude, say what you will... I miss his 'fro.
  • I'm still hoping for fielding a somewhat-relevant lineup... if not, how about a comical lineup to confuse our opponents? I mean, we can't do the three point-guard thing continuously. How about a Rubio / Shved / Kirilenko / Williams / Pekovic line-up that seems useful? Really I just want a Rubio / Shved / Gelabale / Williams / Johnson to play for a 5-minute stretch to see how many threes we can attempt... and possibly make. If not there's always CJ to just jump ridiculously high.

Okay, that's all I got. Wait, I lied, I still have one more thing: I'm glad we didn't get Mozgov. Seriously, as funny as it would be to have another Russian on our team, we already have 2.5 qualifying centers; we don't need another. Who knows why the FO suddenly wants to move the Russian National team to Minnesota, but I like where we stand right now on the Russian front. Other than that, let's attempt to get another win. (b^^)b

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