Oklahoma City play another team who are struggling at the moment. The Minnesota Timberwolves have amassed loss after the loss over this most recent stretch of games. The Timberwolves have lost eight games in a row with the team’s last victory coming against the Portland Trailblazers on January 10. Oklahoma City have managed to get through a tough start to January unscathed and now have the opportunity to improve the record even further as OKC enters a soft portion of the schedule.
The Thunder come into the second night of a back to back after waxing the Atlanta Hawks at home. The Hawks hung around against Oklahoma until a strong third quarter decided the game. The Thunder had seven double digits scorers in that game and Danilo Gallinari was the pick of the players on the night. Gallo was efficient as he scored effortlessly and made the Atlanta Hawks’ defence look non-existent. The T-Wolves’ play against the Thunder after a tough loss against the Houston Rockets. Minnesota had strong games out of Towns and Wiggins but they could not overcome a season high of forty five points from Russell Westbrook. Minny have looked broken at times during this difficult run of fixtures and you have to wonder whether they can break out of this slump against the Thunder. It does feel like the Thunder are primed to have a ‘trap’ game, an unexplainable loss that Oklahoma City have been capable of this season.
Thunder Injury Report:
Steven Adams (Questionable)
Terrance Ferguson (Personal)
Abdel Nader (Questionable)
It is possible that Steven Adams may return for the game against the Timberwolves but the decision is dependent on the Thunder medical staff. I think it could be wise for the Thunder to slow-play a return for Steven as we have seen him struggle with lower body injuries in the past. The various, accumulated injuries that Adams have suffered over the years have diminished his on-court play therefore it feels logical to manage his recovery carefully and get the best version of Adams possible.
Timberwolves Injury Report:
No injuries to report, full roster is available for the game against Oklahoma City
Mike Muscala’s shooting from deep has picked up over the last few games. Over the last five games, Mike Muscala has taken twenty three point attempts and has made eleven of these shots from deep. The outside shot was not falling earlier in the season for Muscala and finally looks to be coming around for the ‘Moose’.
Oklahoma City had twenty eight assists against the Hawks which is impressive which it is considered that no one player had double digit assists. Schroder led the team with eight assists but the overall total emphasises OKC’s ability to move the ball. Every player in the most effective unit, ‘The Three Amigos Lineup’ can create for others which has paid dividends for the Thunder.
Minnesota have made a trade with the Atlanta Hawks recently where Jeff Teague was finally traded away from the roster. Jeff Teague is a solid vet but he dribbles the air out of the ball and did not find Karl Anthony Towns for easy buckets regularly, Teague preferred to create shots for himself. The trade makes sense for both sides as Minnesota open up more opportunities for Andrew Wiggins to operate more as a point forward. Wiggins is not great without the ball and has pretty decent passing ability so him acting as a point forward for Minnesota makes sense to some degree. Atlanta finally get a competent back up point guard who can carry some of the play-making burden and relieve some of the weight on Trae Young’s shoulders. It is a move designed to shore up Atlanta’s terrible bench unit numbers, this bench unit has been poor defensively and offensively throughout the season.
Oklahoma City have traded away Justin Patton for Isaiah Roby. Patton, a non-guaranteed deal, will be waived by Dallas on acquisition. Patton was seldom used by Billy Donovan and spent a lot of time in the G-League developing his craft and shaking off the accumulated rust from two foot surgeries. Roby is a lengthy forward who profiles to be versatile defensively and might be able to shoot the ball a little bit. Roby is under team control for the next four years and I expect the Thunder coaching staff to put a lot of effort into developing Roby into a 3&D forward.
Tip Off is at 8:00 (EST)