Wolves at Thunder
7:00 pm Central
I don't have good feelings about tonight's game.
In fact, this game is among the most likely losses of the season so far. On the road against the best team in the Western Conference on the 2nd night of a back to back. No Nikola Pekovic, and a sore (at best) Kevin Love. Madison Dan can give us the win probability based on his system, but it isn't good.
Unfortunately, the Wolves are not in any position to mail in anything, get guys rest, and move on. They have to try to contest every game from here on out if they want to have any chance to reach the playoffs, as dim as those hopes have become over the last month.
So. OKC. Kevin Durant is playing absolutely inspired baskeball, scoring prodigiously and efficiently and absolutely dominating proceedings. On his back, the Thunder have won 11 of their past 12 games, while Durant has averaged over 35 a night during that stretch on 58% shooting from the field. He's rolling.
They are also getting quality play from elsewhere on the roster, as Serge Ibaka continues to progress as an offensive player to go with his excellent defense, Steven Adams was a terrific draft pick for them, and Jeremy Lamb, a year after barely registering as a rookie, has become a shooting weapon off the bench.
The Thunder are a strong rebounding team at both ends of the floor, which will put pressure on Love and the Wolves other bigs to control the glass, they use their activity to force teams into bad shots, and they are one of the more efficient shooting teams in the league.
All in all, a very tough opponent in the best of circumstances, which these are not. Even without Russell Westbrook, the Thunder have been rolling along, and it's hard to imagine that changing tonight.
For the Wolves, they would need a nearly perfect storm to steal this one. Mostly, shots will have to go in at an unusual rate. Not only Love and Martin, but others will have to make them as well. With Durant, they just have to work hard and hope. Not much else to be done, really. It worked in the first meeting of the year, when Corey Brewer did a good job and Durant seemed strangely absent in a Wolves win.
In the two meetings since then, both Thunder wins, Durant took over the fourth quarters. In both games, the Wolves held leads after three quarters, but could not withstand the onslaught when Durant began aggressively looking for his offense.
Actually, looking back at those box scores and remembering the games, the Wolves seem to match up with the Thunder pretty well. The Wolves were able to control long stretches of those games, but ultimately were unable to close the last two out.
I can't say I'm expecting a particularly close one tonight, but hopefully the Wolves will surprise us. In a good way.
We'll be back with a game thread later.