By: Dan Slaubaugh
Timberwolves basketball is fun! Jimmy, KAT, Tyus and co. are ballin’! Most importantly, the Minnesota Timberwolves are winning important basketball games!
The Wolves look to continue their winning ways Wednesday night as the Oklahoma City Thunder come to town on the end of a back-to-back after a rough home loss to Portland. The Thunder have lost four of six heading to Minnesota after Tuesday's loss.
A Wolves win would mean two things. 1) Wolves get the tiebreaker with OKC. 2) They’d give themselves a four-game cushion at the 4 spot.
The Wolves are favored by 5 points.
What: Thunder @ Wolves
When: 7:00 PM CT
Where: Target Center, Minneapolis, MN
Where to watch: ESPN
Where to listen: 830 WCCO
What to watch for:
Teague’s return: Thirteen days after he sustained a sprained MCL, Timberwolves point guard Jeff Teague practiced with the team Tuesday and could return to play as soon as tonight. While I like Teague, I’m afraid this could be the end of Tyus Jones playing extended minutes with the starters, which, as we all know, has been a massively successful five-man lineup. For a more extensive analysis on the fascinating decision that awaits Tom Thibodeau, I wrote about it here yesterday.
Slowing down the reigning MVP: The Wolves will have their hands full tonight trying to slow down Russell Westbrook, who left the arena before the locker room opened last night without speaking with the media. Look for Butler to guard Westbrook tonight as he has the previous three outings.
Bench production: The Wolves bench played splendidly Wednesday night pouring in 40 points. Gorgui Dieng chipped in 11 points and 8 rebounds, Jamal Crawford scored 10 points, Nemanja Bjelica (who the team needs to contribute nightly again) dropped 7 and 2, and Bazz, Georges-Hunt, and Brooks all chipped in four. Tonight, the bench could add point guard depth with Jeff Teague returning to action. Whether or not he or Jones comes off the bench is a question to be answered. I assume Thibs slowly brings Teague back on a minutes restriction as long as Tyus keeps finding success with the starting unit.
The Wolves have the league’s fifth-best defensive rating over the past 10 games.
Minnesota currently leads OKC in their four-game season series, 2-1.
In Minnesota's last five games, Jimmy Butler is averaging 22.8 points, 7.2 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 2.4 steals on 45-50-88 shooting splits.
Minnesota: PG Tyus Jones, SG Andrew Wiggins, SF Jimmy Butler, PF Taj Gibson, C Karl-Anthony Towns
Oklahoma City: PG Russell Westbrook, SG Andre Roberson, SF Paul George, PF Carmelo Anthony, C Steven Adams
Wolves win 106-97. Jimmy, KAT, and Wigg best Russ, George, and Melo. Towns goes for 25 points and 13 rebounds.