The popular wisdom to best slow down the premiere scorers in the N.B.A. is to make them work. Work to get their shots. Work on defense. If you can’t stop a guy, you can tire him out. “If he’s gonna guard me, he’s gonna run all night.” That’s Corey Brewer on tonight’s matchup against Kevin Durant.
Oklahoma City probable starting lineup:
PG Reggie Jackson
SG Thabo Sefolosha
SF Kevin Durant
PF Serge Ibaka
C Kendrick Perkins
Durant had 42 points on 24 field goal attempts and 24 free throw attempts against the Utah Jazz Wednesday night. With Ibaka going just 4-15 and Jackson going 5-10, there’s either going to have to be a lot more Sefolosha in the Thunder offense or the volume of Durant’s attempts (and points) will be up there until whenever Russell Westbrook hurries back (said to be sometime in the next two weeks or so).
Minnesota probable starting lineup:
PG Ricky Rubio
SG Kevin Martin
SF Corey Brewer
PF Kevin Love
C Nikola Pekovic
The superstar match-ups are Durant-Brewer and Love-Ibaka. Brew will likely be the first line of defense-by-committee approach, while Ibaka will more than likely be able to hold his own in a fun matchup pitting the league’s leading shot blocker against the league’s best stretch-four.
- Martin gets a look at the road not taken in his first game against his old team. Thabo should be all over Martin as he looks to bounce back from a rough opening night.
- Rubio and Westbrook have rarely been 100% healthy against eachother, and it’s a shame.
- Foul trouble could expose a lack of Thunder depth.
How Minnesota balances its new, stretchier offense by giving Pek some more touches down low against Perk (hopefully on the move less than to showcase that shotput of a hook shot) and hitting Brew on some of that movement he promised to make Durant work on the defensive end will determine the Wolves fate tonight more than how they guard Durant.
Very interesting early-season matchup.