Preview: Oklahoma City Thunder (21-4) @ Minnesota Timberwolves (12-11)

The OKC Thunder won their 12th straight last night over the Atlanta Hawks, 100-92, getting 41 points and 13 rebounds (with 6 TOs) from Kevin Durant, 27 points and 11 assists from Russell Westbrook. Nobody else on the team scored more than Sefolosha’s 9 points.

Thunder probable starting lineup:

PG Russell Westbrook

SG Thabo Sefolosha

SF Kevin Durant

PF Serge Ibaka

C Kendrick Perkins

Shooting a league-leading 84% from the free throw line, OKC gets there 27 times a game, the 3rd most in the league. Durant gets there over 9 times a game, Westbrook over 6. If you thought Dwyane Wade got some calls against Alexey Shved, you are probably going to have some issues with this one, too.

Wolves probable starting lineup:

PG Luke Ridnour

SG Alexey Shved

SF Andrei Kirilenko

PF Kevin Love

C Nikola Pekovic

With Durant and AK, Rubio and Westbrook, and Love and Ibaka going head to head, at full health this game would have an abundance of intriguing matchups. Pek and Perk in the post could be what the Mayans were fussing about.

Prior to the Miami game, Wolves opponents were making just over 6 3s per game against them — which isn’t bad, middle of the pack. For the Heat to rain down 13 in a game, it was a bit of an anomaly. Still, as a team, the Wolves are shooting just 29% from 3 on the season. Getting outdone every game from downtown can’t last all season, can it? The Thunder are the 2nd most accurate team from 3, but they only shoot 18.4 a game — good for 20th most in the league. So if the Wolves can guard without fouling…

In theory, Rubio’s eventual return would have a positive trickle down affect: Ridnour, with fresher legs, would be a better threat from 3, JJ Barea, not feeling the need to do too much, would be a less ball-dominating presence, and so on. Until then, Westbrook promises to dominate his matchup with Ridnour — he seems to bring extra intensity to his Rubio matchup, too, possibly due to the rumors the Thunder were considering drafting Rubio over Westbrook, back in the day. Regardless, Russell’s parade to the line will have to be short for the Wolves to have a puncher’s chance at the Target Center.

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Tags: Kevin Durant Minnesota Timberwolves Oklahoma City Thunder Preview Russell Westbrook

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