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Records: The Oklahoma City Thunder (35-12) vs. The Minnesota Timberwolves (23-25)
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
Enemy Blog(s): Canis Hoopus, Twolves Blog, Howlin' T-Wolf
Previous Meeting(s): Dec. 26th, Mar. 23rd (Thunder Lead Series 2-0)
Remember that awesome game we had with the Timberwolves where Kevin Love had 51 points and Durant and Westbrook both went over 40 in a double-overtime thriller? Well, the T-Wolves have hit the crapper since then. They did beat the Nuggets immediately afterwards, but after that they've only managed to win one of their next 10 games, and that win came against the hapless Bobcats. Some losses have been close, some have been blowouts, but the fact remains: They keep losing.
The cascading injuries don't help things, either. As you know, Rubio is already out for the season. Later, Milicic went down. Then Ridnour. Three nights ago, they saw Love go down. And just to compound it all, two nights ago, Wayne Ellington got injured as well. This leaves them with 10 active players on the roster, and a lineup of Pekovic-Derrick Williams-Wesley Johnson-Webster-Barea. Yeah, things are looking pretty thin for the Timberwolves. Second round pick Malcolm Lee is seeing extended action.
I don't know if any of the aforementioned players are coming back, but a return from Love is unlikely tonight, as he needs to pass league-mandated tests in order to return from his concussion. Because of that, it would be a straight up miracle for the Timberwolves to win. They can go really dry offensively without a go to guy and a bunch of average guards who mostly score off-ball. Barea has always proven that he can tear through the Thunder's defenses, and Pekovic should get a few points down low. But these guys shouldn't be anything more than third or fourth scorers on legitimate NBA teams. Beasley can be a number one scorer, but he's coming off of the bench, struggling through minor injuries, and his play has been all over the map.
Still, I think the T-Wolves will be able to keep it close for two quarters or so, and that should be some entertaining basketball. There's a part of me that wishes Wes Johnson's potential would shine through and Michael Beasley would play like he's supposed to, so we could have an exciting game tonight. But more likely than not, the Thunder will shut down the Timberwolves defensively, and the game will be over by the final 6 minutes.
Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder 106, Minnesota Timberwolves 91