Tonight, the Oklahoma City Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves renew competitive acquaintances upon a nationally televised holiday stage.
During the season’s first meeting between these Northwest Division rivals, a balanced Oklahoma City iteration prevailed 112-92. In this early November tilt, OKC placed five players in double-figure scoring and effectively limited each Minnesota contributor not named Karl-Anthony Towns.
As the uberly-versatile Towns scored a game-high 33 points on 20 shot attempts vs. OKC, his supporting cast did not enjoy the same fortune. Overall, Town's frigid teammates netted a meager 20-of-63 FGA. In total, the Timberwolves converted just 39% from the field, and 21% from distance.
Conversely, an efficient and assured Oklahoma City Thunder unit made 52.3% of its 86 FGA, while recording 7-of-16 3PA. ‘Mr. Versatility’ Russell Westbrook added 28 points, eight assists, and six rebounds as nine Thunder contributed at least four points. Finally, amid OKC’s success, Enes Kanter’s 20 point, ten rebound outing signified his second of six double-doubles this season.
Needless to state, the Thunder will be jockeying for similar results at the conclusion of tonight's holiday tussle.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Oklahoma City has won three-of-four as the NBA world has reveled in Russell Westbrook's historical exploits. Consider that throughout Westbrook's last three contests his astounding line of 44.3 ppg, 10.7 rpg, and 8.3 apg has placed him alongside Wilt Chamberlain as the first player in fifty-plus years to garner consecutive 45 point, five rebound, five assist, and 50% FGA performances.
Through 30 games, Westbrook has accrued 14 triple-doubles, and the 6’3 guard continues to average 31-10-10 for the season.
While Oklahoma City toppled Boston 117-112 on Friday, Westbrook erupted for 20 final-period points --including each of OKC's 12 in the contest’s remaining two minutes -- to snap the Celtics' four-game winning streak.
While 16-17' has not materialized as the Timberwolves' expected breakout campaign, the young Wolves have collected two wins in the team's last three outings. Minnesota defeated both Phoenix and Atlanta prior to suffering a hard-fought 109-105 setback to the Kings.
The triumvirate of Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Zach Lavine accounted for 71% of the Wolves’ offensive output vs. Sacramento. Ultimately, however, DeMarcus Cousins (12 points), Ty Lawson (9), and Anthony Tolliver (8) broke the back of a weary Minnesota grouping while completing a timely fourth-quarter comeback.
Against Oklahoma City, Coach Tom Thibodeau will undoubtedly press his precocious, yet talented bunch for a full 48-minutes of competitive focus.
Oklahoma City Thunder Keys To Victory
- Contain Karl-Anthony Towns’ teammates
- Establish the two-man game between Westbrook and Adams
- Defend the three-point line
- Place Minnesota in foul trouble/convert free-throw attempts
- Force the young Timberwolves to doubt themselves early
Injury Reports/Projected Starting Lineups
The Timberwolves have no injuries to report. Oklahoma City will be without the services of Victor Oladipo (wrist) and Cameron Payne (foot).
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
- PG: Russell Westbrook
- SG: Anthony Morrow
- SF: Andre Roberson
- PF: Domantas Sabonis
- C: Steven Adams
- PG: Ricky Rubio
- SG: Zach LaVine
- SF: Andrew Wiggins
- PF: Gorgui Deng
- C: Karl-Anthony Towns
Oklahoma City Thunder -5
Our partners at numberFire currently give the Thunder (18-12) a strong 77% chance of victory over the 9-20 Minnesota Timberwolves. To go along with home-court advantage for this Christmas night romp, Russell Westbrook and Oklahoma City simply have the look of an all-around superior competitive entity.