- Who: Minnesota Timberwolves (1-1) vs Oklahoma City Thunder (0-2)
- When: 7:10 PM CT
- TV: Bally Sports North (Michael Grady, Jim Petersen and Katie Storm)
- Radio: 830 WCCO-AM
- Line: Wolves -9 | Total: 226 (courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook)
Gameday in OKC.— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) October 23, 2022
Wolves at Thunder
7pm CT, Paycom Center
Preview » https://t.co/5z7LGLm3je pic.twitter.com/ZtPyiuzErk
What to Watch for
The Minnesota Timberwolves are set to hit the road for the first time this season, as they travel to Oklahoma City to take on the Thunder for the second time in three games.
Oklahoma City is of course led by dynamic guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who scored efficiently and often in OKC’s first two games, averaging 30 points per contest on 49% shooting from the field. Gilgeous-Alexander is joined in the Thunder backcourt by second-year man Josh Giddey, who is coming off an excellent game against the Denver Nuggets in which he posted a 19-12-6 statline, further establishing himself as OKC’s second building block.
Minnesota, on the other hand, is coming off a disappointing showing in their last game, falling to the soon-to-be-tanking Utah Jazz 132-126 in overtime. It was a game marred by turnovers and poor shooting for the Wolves, who finished the night with a 33% showing from behind the arc and also gave the ball away 20 times.
In the Timberwolves’ first matchup with OKC, Jaden McDaniels and Anthony Edwards both did as good a job as anyone can on SGA, and they will have to continue to make him work for his points if they want to easily dispose of a Thunder team that they should beat convincingly.
Keeping Giddey under wraps is typically as simple as making him shoot the ball from 3, but he has came into this season with an improved stroke. Despite shooting 36% from deep so far this season, it would go against 40+ years of NBA history if Giddey went from a minus shooter to plus shooter in just one offseason; so if Minnesota lets Giddey shoot instead of allowing him to slice and dice their defense with his playmaking ability, they should be in good shape.
Containing Gilgeous-Alexander will be paramount for Minnesota tonight. SGA is one of the most versatile, unique scoring threats in the NBA, getting to the rim with a mixture of a tight handle, and an oddly individualistic ability to get his shot off around the outstretched arms of defenders with ease on a regular basis.
Nobody drives quite like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.— Nekias (Nuh-KY-us) Duncan (@NekiasNBA) October 23, 2022
Tempo, footwork, different stride lengths. Defenders can't keep tabs on him. pic.twitter.com/XwK0VUoOHp
Minnesota did a good job of containing him for the first three-quarters of the season opener, but whenever Jaden McDaniels or Anthony Edwards were on other people, SGA made quick work of his defender.
Gilgeous-Alexander is always going to get his points, but if the Timberwolves can force him to be inefficient in his shot attempts, the Thunder offense could grind to a halt in quick order.
So, in the longest way possible, the key for the Wolves tonight is to keep one of McDaniels or Ant on Gilgeous-Alexander at all times, and if they are able to keep him in check, Minnesota should easily get back in the W column.
Through two games, D’Angelo Russell has been a perfect fit for the new-look Wolves.
So far this season, Russell is averaging 21.5 PPG on 45% shooting, but most importantly he is shooting 35.7% from 3, a figure that would be a noticeable jump from last season’s mark of 34%.
D’Angelo Russell tonight vs OKC:— Loading… (@IceInMyVeinsSzn) October 20, 2022
WIN. Just getting started. pic.twitter.com/RHaSMS0lVy
D-Lo could easily feast on an OKC team that lacks strong perimeter defenders outside of Luguentz Dort, who will most likely be matched up with Edwards for most of the evening. Russell will probably be matched up with either Gilgeous-Alexander or Giddey for most of the night, and while SGA is competent when he wants to be, the effort comes and goes, and Giddey is still a disaster of an on-ball defender at this stage of his career.
Overall, Russell should be able to continue his solid start to the season in tonight’s matchup, but with as scrappy as OKC has been this year, you never know.
Feed Gobert... again
In the season opener against the Thunder, Rudy Gobert couldn’t be stopped, scoring 23 points on 66% shooting and tearing down 16 rebounds to boot. With the season long absence of Chet Homlgren, OKC has no true center on their roster outside of Mike Muscala, and he is no match for the stifle tower down low.
With Gobert sharing the paint with the likes of Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Aleksej Pokusevski, Muscala, and Eugene Omoruyi, he should be in for another dominant night, to the point I would willingly bet my house on a double-double.
Rudy Gobert OKC— Rudy Gobert Fr (@GobertFr) October 20, 2022
0 perte de balle
✅WIN et gros premier match de Rudy dans un match complet pic.twitter.com/stcVzJeGGU
This game could easily be a test-run for what the Timberwolves will do against teams who play small-ball come playoff time, and my advice to them would be the following— let the big man eat.
- Kyle Anderson (back spasms)
- Luka Garza (two-way assignment)
- Josh Minott (two-way assignment)
- Jalen Williams (orbital bone fracture)
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (hip)