Where: Target Center
See It: FSN/My29
Hear It: WCCO AM 830
When it comes down to it, a game preview is supposed to familiarize you with your team’s opponent and tells you the important thing for the game. For tonight’s Timberwolves and Thunder matchup, here’s what you need to know: the Thunder are really, really good. What? Is that not good enough for you? Ok, I’ll expand a little, but I’m telling you I already summarized the entire piece by the end of the second sentence.
It’s not that the Timberwolves aren’t good, despite dropping two straight to the Magic and Heat. If a schedule maker (with a sick and twisted sense of humor) is going to have you play the Western Conference champion one game after playing the reigning Eastern Conference champion, you should at least get one game at home, and that’s the case here.
The Thunder are good at a lot of things. Almost all of the things, actually.
– They have the number one offense in the NBA, and are the second best shooting team in the league, too. Of course this means that the Wolves draw the two best shooting teams in back-to-back games, too, because life is terribly unfair. If you’ve watched their offense from prior seasons to this one you can see the difference on the court.
If that weren’t enough, led by Russell Westbrook they’re 13th in assists, and 1st in field goal to free throw attempt ratio as a team. Oh good, they move the ball to get good looks, then actually make those shots, and get to the free throw line. I don’t have to tell you’re they’re the best free throw shooting team in the league, do I?
– They’re suddenly a top ten defensive team, because, again, life is terribly unfair. Once an average defensive team, the Thunder are suddenly the tenth ranked defensive squad in the NBA, but they don’t force a ton of turnovers, which is about all they’re not great at. Highlighting their defensive playmaking abilities, they’re number one in blocked shots, because life…not…fair.
The Thunder don’t give opponents that many attempts, either, ranking 17th and 19th in FGA and 3PAT. And when you’re a team like the Timberwolves that tend to struggle with shooting, you need all of the opportunities they can get.
– Ok, the Thunder may be an average rebounding team, and 26th in offensive rebounding, but offensive rebounding doesn’t matter as much when you shoot the ball as well as they do. Maybe if they got a little more practice at offensive rebounding they’d be better at it. Screw it. They’re a failure because they’re not already elite in this area. Fine, that’s not true; I’m just upset because this really isn’t fair.
– Then there’s Kevin Durant, who has been even more phenomenal than ever. Here’s a list of players who have ever achieved a 50/40/90 shooting season while averaging at least 27-8-4. I always thought Larry Bird looked lonely on that list…
On top of all of that, they’re also riding a 12-game winning streak into Target Center. However, there is such a thing as too much momentum and maybe the fact they’re on the road on a second game of a back-to-back is all the more fair life is going to get for us tonight. Optimistically, the Timberwolves are billing this as a rematch of the thrilling double OT loss last season in which Kevin Durant and Kevin Love exchanged back breakers, but this isn’t the same since both teams are much improved.
See, folks. The premise of previews is pretty basic. I told you, this team is good.
Projected Starting Fives:
Russell Westbrook — PG — Luke Ridnour
Thabo Sefolosha — SG — Alexey Shved
Kevin Durant — SF — Andrei Kirilenko
Serge Ibaka — PF — Kevin Love
Kendrick Perkins — C — Nikola Pekovic