Oklahoma City Thunder (43-18) vs Minnesota Timberwolves (25-35)
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Last game: Minnesota: L, 95-82 vs Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City: W, 115-89 vs Sacramento
The Timberwolves played the Clippers on Thursday without Kevin Love, who sat out with a concussion. Minnesota fought, but were outmanned and outgunned by the Clippers, who pulled away in the second half.
The Thunder demolished Sacramento Friday night. Durant scored 29 and Westbrook scored 22, while the Thunder held DeMarcus Cousins to 9 points on 3-14 shooting.
Oh yeah, and they did this:
The Key Questions
#1. Will Kevin Love be available to play?
Negative, which is doubly unfortunate. Now we won’t get a repeat performance of March 23’s thrilling double OT game. Love was brilliant, scoring 51 points and dueling Durant and Westbrook, but he wasn’t enough to spur Minnesota to victory. Unfortunately, the rematch looks like it will have to wait until next year.
#2. Will Anthony Randolph continue to play well?
In his last two games, Randolph has been impressive, both offensively and defensively, especially against Denver. AR scored 28 points on 11-16 shooting and blocked 5 shots. Against the Clippers, Randolph continued to be efficient, scoring 16 points on 7-12 shooting. The strangest sentence I will write today: Anthony Randolph will be key to the Wolves’ fortunes tonight.
#3. Will Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combine for 100 points?
The Wolves have historically had trouble guarding Durant, and they will be starting Barea against Westbrook. Oh yes. There will be blood.
The Key Matchups
The biggest matchup for Minnesota will be Nikola Pekovic against Kendrick Perkins. Perkins is one of the few centers in the league who can match up with Pekovic strength-wise, but the Wolves will need Pek’s production to have any kind of a chance against the Thunder.
The Wolves will need to do their best to limit Durant/Westbrook. It would be an understatement to call this a tall order, but if the Wolves force the rest of the Thunder to beat them instead, the game might be more competitive.
Ho boy. This could get ugly. On the one hand, the Wolves seem to be playing with a little more pride. On the other hand, Oklahoma City is a much, much better team.
Game starts at 7 on Fox Sports North