The NBA is set for a busy night of action on Tuesday night. Eight games are on the board for January 8. One of the games will be between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Oklahoma City Thunder. These two teams are both competing in the Western Conference playoff picture. The game is set to tip off at 8:00 PM Eastern time on NBA TV.
The Timberwolves have started out the season with a record of 19-21. Minnesota is sitting a little bit out of the playoff picture in the eleventh spot in the Western Conference standings. The Timberwolves have picked up their play as of late though, winning five of their last eight games. Minnesota has won back to back games by 17 points or more. The Timberwolves will look to build upon that winning streak with a road victory over the Thunder.
Oklahoma City has jumped out to a record of 25-14, which has them in third place of the Western Conference. The Thunder lost their last game by 18 points against the Washington Wizards at home. Before that loss though, Oklahoma City had won four of their last five games. The Thunder will look to start a new winning streak with a victory at home on Tuesday night.
Tuesday night’s matchup will be the second of four games between the Timberwolves and the Thunder. Minnesota and Oklahoma City will meet two more times on March 5 and April 7. The Thunder are near the top of the standings, while Minnesota is still in the mix for a playoff spot. I believe this game will be a tightly contested matchup.
The Timberwolves and the Thunder met up four times last season as well. Oklahoma City hosted the first game and lost in a close 115-113 game. The second game of the season series shifted to Minnesota, where the Timberwolves won 119-116. The Thunder were able to take the third game of the season series at home by a score of 111-107. The final game of the season series shifted back to Minnesota, where the Timberwolves finished with a 104-88 win.
Oklahoma City hosted the first game of this season’s series. The Thunder were led by Paul George, who scored 31 points and pulled down 12 rebounds. Russell Westbrook had 23 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists, but it was not enough. Andrew Wiggins had a 30 point night for the Timberwolves. Karl-Anthony Towns added another 18 points to help give Minnesota a 114-112 win on the road.
The Timberwolves are 4-1 against Oklahoma City in their last five games. Minnesota and the Thunder made the playoffs last season, but Oklahoma City finished as a higher seed. The Thunder are off to a strong start this season, but have fallen down 1-0 in the season series. I believe Oklahoma City pulls off a win against the Timberwolves on Tuesday night to even up the season series.
The Timberwolves have been a solid team at forcing turnovers and generating steals. Minnesota has averaged 9.1 steals per game this season. The Timberwolves have forced their opponents to average 15.2 turnovers per game, which is top ten in the league. Minnesota has turned over the ball an average of 12.8 times per game, which is also top ten. The Timberwolves will need to take care of the ball against the Thunder on Tuesday night.
Oklahoma City has been the best team in the league this season at getting steals. The Thunder have averaged 10.4 steals per game. Oklahoma City’s opponents have turned the ball over an average of 17.3 times per game, which also leads the league. The Thunder turn over the ball an average of 14.3 times per game, which they will need to limit on Tuesday night.
The turnover battle will likely play a key role in Tuesday night’s game. Minnesota will need to play a tight game to avoid turning the ball over. Oklahoma City has been one of the best teams at scoring in transition off turnovers. The Thunder will need to avoid turning the ball over themselves to though.
Karl-Anthony Towns has been the leader from the Center spot of this Minnesota roster. Towns has averaged 22 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. Andrew Wiggins is averaging 17.5 points per game. Jeff Teague has been doing well this season, averaging 12 points per game from the Point Guard spot. The Timberwolves could be missing two of their top players in Derrick Rose and Robert Covington. Rose has averaged 19 points this season, while Covington is averaging 14.5 points per game.
The Thunder have been led by Paul George and Russell Westbrook this season. George has averaged 27 points and 8 rebounds per game. Westbrook is averaging 21 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists per game this season. Steven Adams has averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds per game. Dennis Schroder is averaging 15.5 points off the bench.
Oklahoma City will look for the absences of Rose and Covington to open up an opportunity for George and Westbrook to go off. Adams who is a solid defensive Center, will have a tough matchup as he goes up against Towns. Schroder could have a good game as Rose will not go up against him off of the bench.
Minnesota has found a lot of success against the Thunder recently. The Timberwolves are playing with a couple of key injuries, which I believe will slow them down on Tuesday night. On top of that, Oklahoma City has a couple key matchups in the lineup and in the turnover battle. I believe that these will give the Thunder the edge over Minnesota.
BetOnline has Oklahoma City listed as a -8 against the spread. While this is a pretty big spread, I believe that the Thunder have a good chance to cover this spread. Oklahoma City is at home and they have been much better this season. The Timberwolves have won back to back games and I believe that they lose on Tuesday night.