This also counts as an open thread, so feel free to post your thoughts during the game here.
Time: 7:00 PM Central Standard Time
Place: The Target Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota
TV: Fox Sports Net Oklahoma, Fox Sports Net North
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1)
Enemy Blog(s): Peachtree Hoops, Twolves Blog, Howlin' T-Wolf
Backstory: Okay, seriously. Raise your hand if you think we're going to lose this game. That's what I thought. The Timberwolves are a result of the combination of tanking and really good teams. When the NBA has really good teams like the Lakers this year, as a result, there's some really bad teams, like Minnesota and New Jersey. Granted, Minnesota has picked up the pace a little. And by a little, I mean, a little. They've improved slightly enough to be able to beat the Nets, the Pacers, the 76ers, and the Kings. It's not all that impressive. They've also beaten Utah twice, but that seems to be the exception, rather than the rule. In General, when the face a genuinely good team, they either get blown out, lose by 10, or surprise the team by losing in the single digits. Any way you look at it, it's a loss, and against the Thunder, I'd expect another loss for the Timberwolves.
The Thunder, meanwhile, are on a roll. They've managed to beat 2 legitimate Eastern conference playoff teams in Miami and Atlanta, and they are currently holding the 8 seed in the West.
The Timberwolves will be missing their backup center, Ryan Hollins. Kevin Love is questionable for the game with strep throat.
Below: Matchups, Prediction
Center: Nenad Krstic vs. Al Jefferson
This is probably the only matchup the Thunder stand a big chance of losing. Al Jefferson is a really solid big man, while Krstic is just okay. Since Jefferson is capable of moving into mid-range, I'd expect him to have the upper hand on all of our centers.
Power Forward: Jeff Green vs. Kevin Love (Possibly Nathan Jawai)
Jeff Green can probably beat Kevin Love on a normal day, so I'd expect him to be able to beat him when he has strep throat. Love is a solid big man, but I think Green can defend him well. And if Jawai plays, I wouldn't be worried. In Australia, he was called, "Baby Shaq". The title is appropriate, as if Shaq played in the NBA as a baby, I think he would be good enough to backup one of the worst teams in the NBA.
Small Forward: Kevin Durant vs. Damien Wilkins
Shooting Guard: Thabo Sefolosha vs. Corey Brewer
Brewer is a solid Shooting Guard, but he's prone to turnovers, and he's more of a shooter than a driver. Those two ingredients are the recipe for a Sefolosha feast!
Point Guard: Russell Westbrook vs. Jonny Flynn
Okay, I'll be honest with you guys here. The only time I've see Jonny Flynn play was in that 5 or so overtime game he played while at Syracuse. And if you couldn't tell already, I must confess that I don't watch very many College Basketball or Timberwolves games. Flynn seems to be okay, but not much of a Point Guard. When your PG has more than half of his assists made up for in turnovers, you know it's a bad sign.
Battle of the Benches:
Of note on the bench for the Timberwolves is Ramon Sessions, who hit a game winning shot for the Bucks once. Other than that, the Minnesota bench is pretty unmemorable (as evidenced by Damien Wilkins starting). The Thunder have a clearly superior bench.
Coaching and Intangibles:
Both are coming off relatively big wins. The Timberwolves are at home, but there's not much to be said about the Target center, and the fact that Jonny Flynn is starting over Ramon Sessions tells a great deal about their coaching. I'd say it's on a relatively even keel, tilting towards the Thunder if anything.
If we lose this game, I'll cry. I'll film myself crying, and post it here. The Timberwolves might be able to use Al Jefferson and Kevin Love to take advantage of us inside, but they're beaten at every other position. There's just no way in my mind I could see this team winning, short of a miracle.
Prediction: Oklahoma City 105, Minnesota 91
How do you think the game will go? Vote in the Poll!
And, again, feel free to drop any comments you might have during, before, or after the game below. I'll be in the Ford Center cheering the team on, but I'll be back to write a recap later tonight. (Seriously this time!) Go Thunder!