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Game Preview: Wolves vs Thunder

Two lottery teams face off at Target Center

Oklahoma City Thunder v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Wolves -4.5 vs Thunder

7:00pm CST

FS North / WCCO Radio

After a trip to the desert that resulted in a split with one of the NBA’s best teams, our beloved Timberwolves return home for the first of four straight games at the Target Center.

Surely, Minnesota will be looking to build on what I’d deem a successful series against the Suns.

More than anything, we’ll be looking for the Wolves to allow young Anthony Edwards and his big brothers Karl-Anthony Towns and Ricky Rubio to keep growing together. This is obviously a precarious week for Rubio, as he’s been in-and-out of trade rumors recently, but the smart money is on Rubio remaining with the team given how much he’s played into Edwards’ recent growth.

Aside from being a steady hand on the floor, that’s what Gersson Rosas and his team were hoping for when they traded for Rubio shortly after selecting Edwards on draft night. So far, so good on that front.

For Edwards moving forward, it’s really about continuing to find the best ways to attack within the flow of the offense, and finding that balance with KAT. The two have slowly started to show signs of a pretty nice two-man game, and that’s something that should make Chris Finch and his staff very excited.

Edwards is fortunate that Lu Dort is out tonight, and OKC is also without George Hill, Al Horford, and others.

On Oklahoma City’s side, it’s all about Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Holy smokes, is this guy good. I think you could make a pretty compelling argument that he was deserving of an All-Star spot this year, and I would not disagree. The Kentucky Wildcat is posting averages of 23.5/4.8/6.0 with .509/.409/.807 shooting splits.

He’s an absolute stud, and is masterful at operating in the floater/mid-range area, which means Minnesota will be in trouble if they sit in “drop” coverage tonight. You get exposed playing that defense against guards who can score from that area, and given the lack of other talent on the roster, Minnesota would be better suited by being aggressive and getting the ball of out SGA’s hands as much as possible.

Aside from Dort and SGA, Oklahoma City is squarely in the middle of a rebuild. It’s no secret that Sam Presti has been happy to take on other’s damaged goods in exchange for draft picks. Moving forward, it’s going to be exciting to see how Presti consolidates/uses all of his draft capital. They are in a nice position to add a ton of young talent through the draft, or move some of the picks to find a long-term running mate for SGA.

It’s strange to see the Timberwolves as a 4.5-point favorite, but I’m glad to be in a position where winning can be the expectation again. With so many regulars out of the lineup, anything less than a comfortable win tonight should be considered a disappointment.

Projected Lineups

Wolves

Ricky Rubio

Anthony Edwards

Josh Okogie

Jaden McDaniels

Karl-Anthony Towns

Thunder

Theo Maledon

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Aleksej Pokusevki

Isaiah Roby

Moses Brown