Minnesota Timberwolves: What to watch for vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 10: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder shoots the ball against Andrew Wiggins #22 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 10: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder shoots the ball against Andrew Wiggins #22 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves play host to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night at Target Center in the third game of their season series.

It’s been a minute since the Minnesota Timberwolves and Oklahoma City Thunder have faced off. Tuesday night will be the third of four meetings between the two Northwest Division clubs.

The first two meetings each came in OKC in a matter of two weeks around the holidays, with the Wolves escaping with a two-point win each time.

Andrew Wiggins has been a Thunder-killer so far, and he’s at the top of the list for what to watch for in Tuesday night’s tilt.

The game tips off at 7 p.m. CT and can be seen locally or on NBA League Pass on either Fox Sports North or Fox Sports Oklahoma.

1. Andrew Wiggins vs. Everyone

In the first two matchups between the Thunder and the Wolves, Wiggins has taken control late and sealed victories for the visitor.

Back in December, Wiggins scored 30 points on 11-of-20 shooting and pitched in six rebounds and five assists. He also made a game-winning layup with just 14 seconds remaining.

In early January, Wiggins dropped 40 on the Thunder, making 16 of his 18 free throw attempts and also notching 10 rebounds and four assists. This time, however, it was a corner 3-pointer from Josh Okogie that put the Wolves up by four points with 27.8 seconds left to help seal the game.

In the six games since the All-Star break, however, Wiggins is averaging only 14.8 points and five rebounds per game while shooting 39.5 percent from the field, 32.1 percent from the 3-point line, and a ghastly 57.1 percent on free throw attempts.

If the Wolves are to make a last-ditch, desperate run at the playoffs, they’ll need Wiggins to come to the party. And that starts Tuesday against OKC.

2. Karl-Anthony Towns

Perhaps this is too obvious, but if you haven’t been playing close attention of late or if you’re prone to listen to the nonsense suggestions that Towns’ recent hot stretch is largely empty stats, well … pay attention to this one.

While Towns was largely held in check by Thunder center Steven Adams over the first two games, Towns’ play of late suggests that nobody will be slowing him down any time soon.

Since the start of February, Towns has averaged 30.6 points, 13.4 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game with shooting splits of .626/.490/.761. It’s been nothing short of remarkable, yet the Wolves have gone just 3-7 in the 10 games in which he’s played.

While it may seem as though Towns’ numbers are overestimating his true impact on the game, that particular narrative simply isn’t true. In short, his teammates need to come along for the ride.

3. No George…Beware Russell Westbrook

Paul George will probably finish in the top-three in voting for the MVP award this season, but remains out due to a shoulder injury. That means that the Wolves will get a whole lot of Russell Westbrook in this one.

Westbrook is having a down year by his standards, but is obviously still one of the best 15 or so best players in the game. On Sunday night against the fading Memphis Grizzlies, the Thunder trailed by eight points heading into the fourth quarter, and Westbrook only had 10 points.

But he exploded for 12 in the final frame and carried the Thunder to a win, halting a worrying losing streak.

Westbrook, who is shooting a horrific 26.6 percent on 3-point attempts this year, attempted 13 long-balls on Sunday, making only four. The Wolves will need to force him into taking those shots in this one, rather than the alternative of letting him get downhill and potentially get Towns and the rest of the Wolves’ frontcourt into foul trouble.

Next. Best-case scenario for Wolves' finish to season. dark

We’ll be back after the game with player grades. Enjoy it!