Two teams that headlined most of the NBA offseason are both looking for the consistency required for a successful season. The Timberwolves (13-9) are heading down the right path to secure their first playoff appearance in 13 years as they’re currently fourth in the Western Conference although as of late they haven’t been able to conjure another winning streak. Since their last win streak of three games they have been trading off wins and losses looking for a spark to not just lead them but keep them on the right direction. The good news is the Wolves could potentially find that spark on Friday when they play the Thunder in Oklahoma City. The Wolves, 6-5 on the road this season, can absolutely find the spark in two straight road wins. The Wolves beat the Pelicans in New Orleans on Wednesday 120-102 amidst Anthony Davis receiving his first career ejection arguing a no-call with a referee. The Wolves were winning 45-43 at the time of Davis’ ejection and momentum completely shifted their way for the remainder of the game.
The Thunder are seemingly heading in the opposite direction as the Wolves while they ride a three game losing streak that’s included in five losses with the past six games. Besides the Thunder’s lone win in the previous six games, OKC has been shooting (41.7%) even worse than their 28th ranked shooting percentage (43.7%). The Thunder possess one of the worst offenses in the league which can be due to their lack of chemistry on that end. Their bright spot is their defense which is fourth best in the league in opponent’s points per game (99.2), and seventh in opponent’s shooting percentage (44.7%). OKC’s defense is usually what keeps them in games, especially when they focus on that side of the ball first because it turns into transition offense which is OKC’s best form of offense until they get it figured out within their half-court system.
Despite being four games below .500, Carmelo said after practice Thursday that Thunder players are not frustrated but instead, they’re mad.
“Nobody is moping around, nobody is frustrated. I think guys are angry. I think guys are pissed,” Anthony said. “That just comes from your competitive nature, wanting to win games — understanding what we have over here, the talent level that we have over here and not being able to put it together right now. So that’s where the anger comes in at.
“I think in this game you almost have to be angry when you’re losing basketball games. The way we’re losing basketball games, it’s more on us than anybody else. The anger part comes in, and I think when you’re angry you show that you care. It’s different than being frustrated. Being angry and being frustrated are two different things.”
Russell Westbrook underwent an x-ray on his left hand that revealed a bruise in which he suffered during Wednesday’s loss against the Magic although he was a full participant during practice on Thursday. Expect Westbrook to be ready to go on Friday as they defend home court against the Timberwolves.
Jeff Teague is listed to be out for Friday’s game with a sore Achilles but expect him to be a gametime decision as he was Wednesday. Nemanja Bjelica should also be a gametime decision while he’s still nursing a foot injury.
The Thunder are 3-9 against the Western Conference which is a conference low while the Timberwolves hold a conference best record 10-3 against the West.
OKC’s home record is 6-3 while the Wolves road record is 6-5.
OKC is 0-2 against the Timberwolves this season with both games coming down to the wire and one of them ending in an Andrew Wiggins buzzer beater from past half-court after a Carmelo Anthony 3-pointer in a wild ending. Expect Friday’s game to be just as exciting as the first two but with a different outcome as the Thunder will do what they have yet to do this season and put together a full 48 minutes of good basketball as they win 117-110.