Taking On the Timberwolves
Date: Dec. 6, 2019
Tip-Off Time: 7 p.m. CT
Television: Fox Sports Oklahoma
Radio: 98.1 FM WWLS the Sports Animal and the Thunder Radio Network
Hitting the glass.— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) December 5, 2019
// today's practice report pic.twitter.com/WN28EP73Z5
Thunder StatusThe Thunder face off against the Timberwolves for the first time this season in the second half of a two-game home stand. In its last game on Wednesday, the Thunder wrestled in a neck-to-neck contest against the Pacers that came down to the final minutes.
Despite getting out to a quick start behind Steven Adams’s perfect 4-for-4 performance in the first five minutes, the Thunder fell in the final moments 107-100 after four quarters that saw 13 lead changes. Adams led the Thunder offense with 20 points, ignited by 12 points in the first quarter alone. Danilo Gallinari and Dennis Schröder added 18 each. Chris Paul tied a season high with 10 assists.
After allowing 10 offensive rebounds in the second half for the Pacers, the Thunder will look to clean up the offensive glass going into a game Friday against the Timberwolves, who are second in the league in rebounding.
“It was bunch of little things,” Shai Gilgeous-Alexander said. “And, obviously, in this league with a bunch of competitive teams, little things add up and it’s the difference in the end of the game and we’ve just got to cut those out.”
Opponent BreakdownThe Timberwolves continue in their stretch away from Minnesota on Friday as a part of their eight road trips in 11 days. Led by former Rookie of the Year and two-time All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns who averages 25.9 points and 12.3 rebounds per game, the Timberwolves rank third in the league in rebounds per game and second in blocks per game.
It will be a tough battle down low for the Thunder as they fight on the glass and in the paint, navigating the height and athleticism of Minnesota’s front court anchored by Towns and flanked by 6-foot-7 swing men in Andrew Wiggins and Robert Covington.
“It’s going to have to be team effort for us. It just has to be,” said Thunder head coach Billy Donovan. “Clearly with Wiggins’ size and athleticism, we’re going to have to be there whether it's Terrance [Ferguson], or Adbel [Nader] or Deonte Burton or whoever else may be on him. We’re going to have to be able to not leave those guys on an island and we’re going to have to provide help to give them some support.”
Matchup FocusIt will be a battle on the block between Adams and Towns. With Towns’ ability to score from the block and behind the arc, all five Thunder defenders will need to be locked in, but according to Gilgeous-Alexander, when it comes to one-on-one defense, “if there’s anyone that can be left on an island, it’s Steven.”
“It’s not only the 3-point shot with him,” Donovan noted. “If you’re closing to him and you’re out of control, he still has the ability to put the ball on the floor, and get to the rim and create fouls. Your ability to get close to him when he’s in those situations is going to be really important.”
Stat to WatchRebounds — Behind Towns, the Timberwolves own the glass against opponents, especially when it comes to offensive rebounding. The Thunder will need to be quick in their rotations on defense to ensure good position to box out and grab those rebounds.
“With the length and size of Minnesota and generally how close they play to the basket, they’ve always been a great offensive rebounding team,” Donovan said. That’s got to be something that we have really got to do a great job of in the game because a lot of the time, those second-chance opportunities lead to fouls, layups and put-backs.”
“It’s just effort,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “When we hone in on it and make it an emphasis of ours, we do a good job of it so just putting in the effort and really focusing on it [is key].”
Thunder TrendIn the past three games, Steven Adams has been electric in the very outset of the contests, shooting a combined 12 for 13 in the first five minutes. Establishing his presence early has opened the door for other prominent scorers on the floor to free themselves up and score off of Adams’s assists later in the game.