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Game Preview #38: Thunder at Wolves

The Wolves will look to keep momentum from Monday rolling with the return of two major pieces to the lineup.

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Game Info

Who: Oklahoma City Thunder (13-23) at Minnesota Timberwolves (17-20)
When: 7:00pm CST
TV: Bally Sports North
Radio: 830 WCCO AM Radio
Line: Timberwolves -8 at open, moved to -9

What To Watch For

The Timberwolves at full strength?! Unless you took a nap starting on December 16 and just woke up now, it’s probably a pretty foreign concept. For the first time since that mid-December date, the Wolves look to have everyone back from their laundry list of an injury/COVID protocol report.

The return of Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell to the lineup is an obvious plus. But there are a couple of things that make this even more of a plus.

In the staggered time that Towns Russell have missed, we have witnessed:

  • A FULL Jaylen Nowell coming out party. Nowell flashed in spots in the past, but certified his role in the rotation as instant offense off the bench.
  • Taurean Prince get his confidence back. Prince dropped 17 in an expanded role last game against the Clippers, looking like the true role player the Wolves intended to acquire this offseason.
  • The team sharing the ball better than they have all season - in my opinion. While Greg Monroe won’t be back off his 10-day contract, I loved the way Finch used him as a playmaker at the nail, and feel like that no-frills playmaking style, distributing to cutters could be used well for KAT, if he allows it. KAT’s post-up numbers are not great, and I’m not a fan of the wild passes from the elbow. Maybe continuing to simplify this can be the key to unlocking more.

The million dollar question after all of that is simple; How can these positive themes continue to be a part of this team with the return of two high-volume players that this team thrives with?

No doubt, however the size, there will be growing pains. That’s natural. The Wolves have had to change they way they play almost every night since December 16, and now they are tasked with getting back to playing the way they did a month ago, while blending new, positive trends from wins with a previous razor-thin team.

The Picks

Below, I’ll make one prop pick that I like for each stat category in this game, and then pick the game against the spread. All lines according to the Action Network.

POINTS - Anthony Edwards OVER 21.5 points (-110)

Edwards is rolling after last game. As usual, after a big game from Anthony Edwards, you can expect plenty of shots, for better or for worse. I could see Finch wanting him to be aggressive to take a little pressure off KAT and D-Lo in their first games back, probably with a little bit of rust.

REBOUNDS - Anthony Edwards OVER 5.5 rebounds (-102)

It’s not overly promising this hits, but at near even odds it’s worth taking, and one I like. The Thunder have two excellent rebounding guards in SGA and Josh Giddey, and backcourt rebounding will need to be important. Edwards grabbed seven boards against the Lakers and only two against the Clippers. He’s all over the place, but the odds are solid. Patrick Beverley over 4.5 is also an enticing prop at -122. If the Wolves backcourt doesn’t effectively rebound, this game could be closer than some like.

ASSISTS - Shai Gilgeous-Alexander OVER 5.5 assists (+107)

Not only are you getting this in plus odds, but I think SGA has a decent chance to surpass this. He’s been knocking on the door of six assists over the last few games, and dished out 12 a couple weeks ago against the Nuggets, who play a similar defensive scheme to the Timberwolves.

AGAINST THE SPREAD - Timberwolves -9

Oklahoma City is getting 96% of the money. That is not a typo. Don’t let a big win against the Knicks in their last game fool you, the Thunder still have a long way to go, and should be a team that the Wolves can take care of with a full squad. If tonight results in a cover or win by OKC, it would have to be from rust after a long time off for KAT and D-Lo.