Photo Credits: Coby Van Loan/OKC Thunder
Oklahoma City Thunder (9-12) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (6-16)
Tip Off: 7pm CST
Where to Watch: FSOK
Oklahoma City is seeking retribution in tonight’s contest after falling inches shy from a victory vs. Minnesota on Friday, losing 106-103. The Thunder rolled out a lineup of just eight players on Friday, but as things stand, it looks like they may have some heavy ammunition returning. For Minnesota, they are hoping to go on a their first winning streak since the opening week of the season.
Barring any developing injuries leading up to tonight’s game the Oklahoma City Thunder will be armed with nine players on the active roster, with Al Horford (rest), Isaiah Roby (foot), and George Hill (thumb) sitting out for the contest.
Minnesota will be facing game time decisions in bigs Naz Reid (wrist), and Juancho Hernangomez (conditioning), while Jarrett Culver (ankle) and Karl-Anthony Towns (health and safety) will be out
Thunder’s Keys to the Game
Start with Shai
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander did not appear in Friday’s 106-103 defeat against the Timberwolves, but with his halt on game action being lifted we should be in store for a lot from the star guard.
Though Hamidou Diallo racked up an impressive 10 assists on Friday, SGA brings a lot more gravitation from defenses as his consistency from all 3-levels pins a target on his back at all times. With SGA back as the primary point-guard drive-and-dish plays should be more prevalent than ever as the Minnesota defense was left in shambles with Diallo, and a similar result is to be expected tonight.
None of the Thunder’s guards shot over 50% from downtown on Friday, with Shai returning you should be betting that he will be able to snap the cold streak or at a bare minimum be creating wide open looks downtown for others.
Reid the Room
With Naz Reid’s status up in the air, it will be hard to tell how Oklahoma City should prep for tonight’s date with the Timberwolves, but Reid or not, you need to have a set gameplan in place.
Naz Reid tallied 17 points (8-12 FG) and 7 rebounds on Friday night vs. the Thunder, but more importantly, he did it on Al Horford. With Al Horford being out for the game, other options at the five will need to be explored. The Thunder’s go to replacement for Big Al, Isaiah Roby, also is inactive so Mark Daigneault will need to dig deep in his bag to find his center.
Mike Muscala and Darius Bazley should be those thrusted into the immediate conversation, but in a hypothetical world where Reid plays, they will almost undoubtedly face issues down low, as Reid weights well over 260 pounds.
Don’t Down Diallo
In Theo Maledon’s return, it is to be expected that Hamidou Diallo will be pushed back to the second unit; that doesn’t mean he should not see a lot of playing time. Even with two true point-guards in SGA and Theo checking back in tonight Diallo’s passing abilities should not be thrown into the gutter. A real opportunity for Hami to expand in the passing game has emerged— don’t let it get away.