Oklahoma City Thunder (21-10, 12-3 home)

vs.

Minnesota Timberwolves (14-18, 3-14 away)

Sunday, December 23 :: 7:00 p.m. CST :: Chesapeake Energy Arena (18,203)
TV Coverage: FS Oklahoma (DirectTV 675, Cox 37, HD 722, Tulsa Cox 27)
Radio Coverage: 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the enemyHere.
Line: The Oklahoma City Thunder are a 7.5-point favorites. The over/under is 222.
Online StreamFS OK | WWLS Sports Animal | Live Stats | Twitter | Facebook
Game Notes: Thunder: here | T-Wolves: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • With a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Oklahoma City Thunder will own sole possession of first place in the Western Conference playoff race.
  • They have to take care of business first. The Minnesota T-Wolves (14-18) come into Chesapeake Energy Arena looking for their first road win since Nov. 26, almost a month ago. Since then, the T-Wolves have dropped five straight games on the road.
  • The Thunder have won four straight and are the NBA’s hottest team, along with the Miami Heat. Oklahoma City is coming off an impressive 107-106 win over the Utah Jazz last night. Paul George had 43 points in the victory.
  • Oklahoma City is 4-2 against the T-Wolves at home over the last three seasons.

FOLLOWING THE ACTION

  • You can catch the radio on Oklahoma City’s WWLS, 98.1 FM. Matt Pinto will be your play-by-play voice. If you’re in Tulsa, catch it on 1450 AM.
  • Chris Fisher and Michael Cage call the game on the Thunder’s flagship station, Fox Sports Oklahoma. You can watch the game there, catch it on NBA League Pass, or use the Fox Sports App (If you’re in Oklahoma).

SCOUTING THE T-WOLVES

  • The Minnesota Timberwolves are 14-18 on the season, that’s 14th in the Western Conference playoff race. They’re on three games out of the playoffs.
  • Minnesota is 3-7 in their last 10 games.
  • When Oklahoma City and the T-Wolves play, Oklahoma City owns a commanding 81-33 advantage.
  • When Oklahoma City plays at the Peake, the Thunder are 16-3 record, including 4-2 over the last three seasons.
  • Last season, both teams split the series with each team winning at least one game on the opponent’s home floor.
  • Minnesota has never finished higher than Oklahoma City in the regular season standings outside of the Thunder’s first season.
  • Minnesota lost to San Antonio in their last game, 124-98 on Thursday, Dec. 21.
  • Minnesota, losers of six of their last seven, have lost those games by an average of 11.2 points per game.
  • INJURY REPORT:
    Jeff Teague (ankle) is out.
    Derrick Rose (ankle) is out.
  • The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over Minnesota came on 4/15/15, where Oklahoma City prevailed by a score of 138-113 (25-point margin of victory).
  • Meanwhile, the Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (42 points) vs. MIN occurred during an 87- 129 loss on 1/7/09.

THUNDER INJURY REPORT

  • Andre Roberson (ruptured patellar tendon) is out

UNIFORM WATCH

NEXT UP

  • The Thunder round out the Christmas week with a game in Houston against the Rockets at 2 p.m. on Christmas Day.

WHAT’S IN A NAME

  • The ownership group for Minnesota’s prospective franchise chose Timberwolves through a name-the-team contest in 1986.
  • The nickname beat out Polars by a 2-1 margin in the final vote, which was conducted in 333 of the state’s 842 city councils.
  • Tim Pope, who was one of the first fans to nominate Timberwolves, won a trip to the NBA All-Star Game. Pope submitted 10 nicknames in all, including Gun Flints. “I thought a two-word name would win,” he told a reporter.
  • The most popular entry in the contest was Blizzard, but the team wanted a nickname that was more unique to its home state. “Minnesota is the only state in the lower 48 with free-roaming packs of timber wolves,” a team official said.



Three Keys to the Game

Defend

If the NBA’s best defensive team is going to give its offense a shot, they must defend hard tonight. Sure, The T-Wolves are short staffed, that’s when players who you do not expect will step up and surprise you. Oklahoma City at times can be their worst enemy. Tonight, Oklahoma City needs a strong perimeter defense and a strong support cast.

Free throws

Oklahoma City’s free throws are huge reasons why they’ve let some games slip this season. They have to make their free throws. It’s simple and just to the point. Make your free throws and you have more of a chance to win some games. Miss them and put yourself behind the 8-ball, yet again.

Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook have to step up on the offensive side. The Thunder need his offensive ability to reappear. Sure, he’s having one of his best defensive seasons of his career, but the Thunder need more out of the all-star. Westbrook hasn’t scored 20 or more since Dec. 12, a loss to New Orleans. That was the last time Westbrook shot 50 percent or better, too.

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Chuck Chaney

Founder & Editor-in-Chief.
Member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.