Wolves at Thunder
FS North/WCCO Radio
After a narrow win behind a late D’Angelo Russell three-pointer, the Wolves and Thunder face off again. Once again, there are notable absences, likely including the aforementioned Russell.
Tonight’s key statuses:— Jack Borman (@jrborman13) February 6, 2021
D'Angelo Russell is doubtful to play tonight in Oklahoma City, due to soreness in his right quad.— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) February 6, 2021
Karl-Anthony Towns will again not play but sit on the bench. He is still listed as "OUT -- health and safety protocols"
So with many usual suspects out, and a few more unlikely to play, tonight has nearly as much potential to get weird as last night’s game did.
Traditionally, teams tend to split these back-to-back scenarios, so Minnesota will be trying to buck that trend with Ricky Rubio in place of D’Angelo Russell.
With Russell out, much more of the playmaking responsibility should fall on the shoulder so of Anthony Edwards, or at least that’s what I’d like to see happen.
Minnesota no-doubt wants to win every game, but they could also benefit from using this as an opportunity to put more on Ant’s plate and see how he handles it. In particular, it would be beneficial for them to put him in more situations to try to create for others, as Edwards has shown he has no problem creating shot opportunities for himself.
On that note, they need the good shooting Ant, not the 3-14 Ant that they got last night. His scoring efficiency is going to be pivotal on a night where the Wolves won’t have Russell.
On top of Edwards, the Wolves will need Malik Beasley to shoot the lights out tonight. He’s been shooting it and scoring well recently, but they’re really going to need him to look like the second best player on this team.
As for Oklahoma City, they’re just hoping to get through this in one piece considering they’re playing the second night of a back-to-back after only having eight players available the night before.
With that in mind, the Wolves should be looking to run at every opportunity. Sure, it’s the second night of a back-to-back for them too, but they had more warm bodies. This is their opportunity to get out in transition and take advantage of what should be a tired Thunder team.
Lastly, I’ll be monitoring Ryan Saunders’ usage of Jaden McDaniels and Josh Okogie. He started Okogie at power forward last night, but his first half was so bad that McDaniels started the second half while Okogie rode the pine. Jarred Vanderbilt is getting the start in that spot tonight, which is a different way than I would’ve gone, although I’m still intrigued to see how that rotation plays out.