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Thunder vs Timberwolves preview: Westbrook and company look for revenge

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Andrew Wiggins got the last laugh earlier this week; is it OKC’s turn?

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Oklahoma City Thunder Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Oklahoma City Thunder are seeking revenge against the Minnesota Timberwolves after losing in heartbreaking fashion to them in their first meeting. The T’Wolves won the game on an Andrew Wiggins buzzer beater, giving the fans playoff atmosphere basketball. Enjoy round two as they clash head to head inside the Target Center.

Both teams are expected to be at full strength to start the game. Minnesota is potentially getting their star player back in Jimmy Butler, who missed the last two games due to illness and in his absence, they lost two straight games.

  • Venue: Target Center, Minneapolis, MN
  • Date: October 27
  • Time: 8:00 PM EDT

The Thunder is back on track after dominating the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night, overcoming past shooting and bench woes. OKC shot 48.3 percent from the field and 37 percent from the three, and OKC’s bench stepped up and scored 27 points, a much more balanced effort than previous games. Melo and Russ need to have a similar game like we saw in Indiana where both shoot over 50 percent. T’Wolves seems to have problems going point after point against fast pace offensive teams.

The T’Wolves are different from the Pacers because Minnesota has the players and coaching to play up to par defense. That said, their defense is still looking for itself, having just given up 130 points to the team OKC just beat. No Jimmy Butler and the T’Wolves’ inability to guard the three-point line have been the two main culprits. Their past two opponents, the Detroit Pistons, and Indiana Pacers shot over 44 percent from the three-point line and over 55 percent from the field. Despite having defensive issues, Minnesota showing strong signs of great offense with or without Butler.

What To Watch?

  • Which team will have the two hot hands?

In Game 1, Westbrook and Melo combined for 54 points and shot 48 percent from the field against the Timberwolves. Westbrook recorded two triple-doubles through four games and is shooting an all-time high 44.4 percent from the three. Russ returned to his MVP form against the Pacers, recording 28 points with 10 rebounds and 16 assists.

After having a shaky first game against the New York Knicks, Melo has turned into “hoodie Melo” over the past three games. As expected, Melo is leading the team in points per game, scoring 24.8 PPG. In addition, Melo’s defense and rebounding are ticked up as well.

Meanwhile, Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns combined for 54 points while shooting 56 percent from the field against the Thunder. In Game 1, Wiggins is doing a great job of picking up Butler’s slack in the beginning of the season. Without Wiggins’ performances over the past games, the T’Wolves would be looking at an even worse record. Wiggins is averaging 20.4 points while shooting 48.6 percent with 4.8 rebounds per game.

Towns gave Steven Adams and OKC problems in game 1. Not only is Towns a walking double-double, but he can facilitate and shoot the three ball. KAT is the T’Wolves leading scorer and rebounder on the team. Steve Adams will have to do better to contain the talented big man.

Thunder News, Notes, Stats

Billy Donovan is trying different lineups to find which players are better at cultivating together. According to Fred Katz of Norman Transcript, Donovan played 25 different lineups yesterday against the Pacers.

According to Katz, Whenever Westbrook have a down game, Melo encourages Russ by saying. “ We came here for you.”

  • In the first few games, Westbrook is trying a little too hard to make this situation work out with the aggressive assists. Westbrook often looks like he’s trying to be a team player — which is great, but that’s not at the expense of his own offense. In the last two games, we’ve seen Westbrook play more aggressively and dictate the tempo.
  • The Thunder defense is still defending very well as OKC held Indiana to under 100 points.
  • As a team, OKC is shooting 33.3 percent and 41 rebounds per game, considerably lower than where they expect to be.

Melo’s only flaw in the last few games has been his low rebounding numbers, although he just had his best rebounding game of the season against the Pacers, recording 10 total.

Poll

Who do you think will win tonight?

This poll is closed

  • 87%
    Thunder
    (192 votes)
  • 12%
    Timberwolves
    (27 votes)
219 votes total Vote Now