Tip-Off: 7 PM CST
Location: Chesapeake Energy Arena (Oklahoma City, OK)
Television: FSOK, ESPN
Radio: The Sports Animal
Twitter: Follow @TheThunderGuys for live-tweets during the game
Player to Watch
C Karl Anthony-Towns is having quite a season individually despite the struggles of the Timberwolves as a team. Through 29 games with Minnesota, KAT is averaging 22.1 points and 11.4 rebounds. When the Thunder traveled to Minnesota on November 5th, Anthony-Towns absolutely dominated scoring for the Timberwolves with 33 points on 13/20 shooting from the field, including 3/4 from beyond the arc, and 4/5 from the free throw line. Steven Adams needs to play a solid game and keep KAT from going off.
Keys to the Game
- Start (and Finish) Strong: Oklahoma City started off strong against Minnesota in their first meeting and held on to a lead for almost the entire game. Outside of a small letdown in the middle of the second quarter in which the Timberwolves briefly went up by 1, the Thunder had control of the game from start to finish. Oklahoma City came out in the second half and took any opportunity that Minnesota had of getting back into the game and blew it wide open, leading by as much as 26 late in the 4th quarter. The Timberwolves have struggled throughout this season, but the Thunder cannot afford to get down early to a young squad looking for a Christmas miracle on the road.
- Down-Low Domination: In the first matchup between the Thunder and the Timberwolves, Oklahoma City managed to score 70 points in the paint, its season-high so far. Through 30 games, the Thunder is second in the NBA in points in the paint with 49.6 per game, and the Timberwolves give up 45.3 points in the paint per game, which is 25th in the league. Defensively, Oklahoma City needs to contain Karl Anthony-Towns, and offensively, the Thunder needs to do what they do best: put up points down low.
- Create Turnovers: Oklahoma City and Minnesota rank 21st and 20th in the NBA in turnovers averaging 15.4 and 15.3 per game. However, in the first meeting between the two teams, the Thunder won the turnover battle by forcing the Timberwolves into 17 mistakes. Oklahoma City then converted those 17 turnovers into 23 points. Meanwhile, the Thunder only turned the ball over 12 times, and the Timberwolves managed to turn that into a mere 9 points. Oklahoma City needs to play lockdown defense and force Minnesota into mistakes, and then take those opportunities and turn them into points.
Article written by Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.