GAMETHREAD at 7! I know you've got nothing better to do! Be there!
Time: 7:00 PM Central Standard Time
Place: The Target Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
TV: Fox Sports Network Oklahoma, Fox Sports Network North
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1), KFAN 1130 AM
Previous Meeting(s): None
Analysis: You know, last year I actually thought that the Timberwolves were a good team. Okay, I'm not talking about when they lost 15 straight games to end the season. But they did challenge quite a few powerhouses early in the season, and seemed to be a bit of chemistry and perhaps another piece away from becoming a significant force.
Still, the Timberwolves are a mess, and no one is even willing to admit they're a playoff contender yet. Every player on their roster, aside from Love, is a huge question mark and doesn't have a defined role. How good is Wes Johnson, really? Can JJ Barea play backup shooting guard? Is Brad Miller still good? Is Dark Milicic still motivated? How will Ricky Rubio pan out? How will Derrick Williams pan out? Can Michael Beasley play within himself? How will Luke Ridnour take to potentially sitting on the bench in favour of Rubio? The questions surrounding this team are abound. If all of the questions are answered positively, this team could be championship contenders. If they are answered negatively, this team goes back to the cellar.
Below: More Analysis, How the Game Will Go, Prediction!
It's really impossible to know where a team of misfits like this will end up. Perhaps they'll suffer from a lack of role payers and too much talent. Perhaps all of their players will gel in some sort of way and be like last year's Nuggets. I really have no idea, but they have a lot to prove in their home opener against the NBA's hottest team.
Last year, the Timberwolves gave the Thunder fits, playing them well into the fourth quarter and never losing by more than 10. Heck, they even took the Thunder to overtime once. Nevertheless, the Thunder won all four games, no matter how ugly it was.
Tonight, we might see a few problems that have plagued us in the past. The Timberwolves were maddeningly inconsistent last year, but it was unquestionable that they found ways around our defense. They knew how to rotate it around the perimeter for a open jumper, and find a open guy running the backdoor cut like Shaun Marion. Adding guys who can actually execute those plays is only going to further our problems.
For some reason, we were always terrible at guarding Jose Juan Barea, and he always found a way to get into an open lane via an array of picks. Fortunately, he'll be playing shooting guard tonight, so he won't have the opportunity to call plays for himself as much. Kevin Love should be a threat as always, especially since he can spread the floor with occasional threes and jumpers.
Still, the first game for an almost completely new team is always a tough test, and I don't think the T-Wolves will be able to get it done against our well-oiled machine. They don't present any overly intimidating matchup problems, and heck, they're still the Timberwolves. This game is over by the late fourth.
Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder 102, Minnesota Timberwolves 97