Wolves at Thunder
7:00 pm CST
In the three games the Wolves have played against the Thunder, they have given up, in order, 101, 113, and 126 points, raising the question of what the Thunder over/under for tonight might be. 140?
Really only one of the games was a blowout, a 113-93 beat down in mid-January in Oklahoma City. The two games at Target Center were close ones: a 101-96 loss that wasn't quite that close as the Wolves bench played a strong 4th quarter to make it competitive, and a 126-123 heart breaker in which Kevin Durant was too much down the stretch of a game in which Zach LaVine had the best shooting night of his career, going 14-17 for 35 points.
Obviously I don't need to spend a lot of time highlighting the Thunder's strengths or personnel; they've been one of the top teams in the league for several years with the combination of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka. They are a fearsome offensive team, rated 2nd in the league on that side of the ball, and it's hard to see how the Wolves, whose defense has been catastrophic for the last couple of months, will be able to slow them down.
One interesting note is that this has been the worst match up of the year for Ricky Rubio. It's not so much that he can't guard Westbrook. Well, nobody can guard Westbrook, and Mitchell has switched that match up around some, but it's really at the other end where he hasn't been able to facilitate the offense with his usual elan against this team. In three games and 75 minutes on the floor he's gone 4-17 shooting with 18 assists. He's just hasn't done much against them as Russ does a very good job at taking away the stuff he does well. Hopefully that changes tonight.
Andrew Wiggins has managed 20+ in all three games against the Thunder, but with no great efficiency, it's been a relative struggle for Karl-Anthony Towns as well. Zach LaVine has been the Wolves most consistent performer in the three games against the Thunder; we'll see if he can continue that in a starting role.
Perhaps the Wolves will be lucky and the Thunder will be looking past this one as they are coming off a big win against the Clippers on Wednesday and head to San Antonio to take on the Spurs tomorrow night. Still, their immense talent advantage seems likely to be too much for the Wolves to overcome.
This is the opener of a four game road trip that will see the Wolves in Phoenix, Memphis and Houston over the next week. It's a pretty great trip if you like barbeque, but will be a stiff test on the basketball court.
Our blogging buddies are over at Welcome to Loud City. Be excelllent.
Enjoy. Chat. Go.
LATE NOTE: The Thunder announced today that assistant coach Monty Williams, whose wife was killed in car accident earlier this year, will miss the rest of the season.