Minnesota at Oklahoma City
Time: 7 PM CST (NBA LP)
Spread: OKC -2.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Oklahoma City Thunder have won three straight and eight of its last 10 overall SU. The Thunder are 20-13 at home where it hosts the Minnesota Timberwolves as 2.5-point favorites in NBA action on NBA League Pass Wednesday. The betting total is set at 218 points according to NBA oddsmakers at bookmaker 5dimes.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are in second-to-last place in the Western Conference with its 19-45 mark. Minnesota has won its last three but has lost seven of its last 10 overall. The Timberwolves have a -4.2 point differential and are just 9-30 against fellow Western Conference opponents.
Minnesota has struggled badly all season in yet another year that a turnaround was expected.
Plenty of the struggles can be attributed to the missed games by Karl-Anthony Towns, but the Timberwolves were displeased enough with its direction that it parted ways with Andrew Wiggins at the trade deadline last month, acquiring promising but enigmatic guard D’Angelo Russell. Russell has done fairly well thus far for the T-Wolves. Through nine games, he is averaging 23.1 points, 7.3 assists, and 1.6 blocks/steals while posting a PER just under 20.
Karl-Anthony Towns desperately wants to return from his wrist injury to see what the Timberwolves have in terms of chemistry. Another key addition at the deadline was Malik Beasley and power forward Juancho Hernangomez. Beasley is averaging 33.6 minutes per game for the Wolves in his first 11 appearances, all starts. Beasley seems to be really breaking out now that he is out of Denver. With averages of 21.4 points, five rebounds, and 3.7 assists, he may finally be breaking out after being drafted as a “one and done” out of Florida State.
The move also opened up a full-time starting spot for Josh Okogie at small forward. Okogie has struggled offensively all season, but he has been the only consistent lockdown defender. The Georgia Tech product is averaging 8.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.5 blocks/steals in just over 24 minutes a night. The Wolves certainly have some nice pieces to build with, but it will want to get Towns back in uniform this season to get an idea of what it working with interns of a core next year.
The Thunder are surging, and the team has won eight of its last 10 games. OKC is better than expected, but perhaps it was just underestimated, to begin with. The Thunder are now seeded No 5 and and if the playoffs began today it would play the Utah Jazz in a tight 4-5 matchup.
Veterans Danilo Gallinari and Dennis Schroder have come through this season, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is breaking out as the future leader of this team. Gilgeous-Alexander came courtesy of the Los Angeles Clippers, and he leads the team in minutes per game (35.4) and in scoring (19.8 per game).
Chris Paul is a steady influence at 16.3 points and 6.6 assists per game, which leads the Thunder. Steven Adams is averaging just shy of a double-double, and Nerlens Noel is functioning well as a post defender in the second unit. The Thunder probably has its work cut out for it to make the postseason, but it is not altogether out of the realm of possibility that this rebuilding team sneaks into the postseason.
With Schroder, Gallinari, and Paul, the Thunder have a veteran core mixed with the youth and the savvy defense of Adams to bring it together on the defensive end. OKC averages 108.8 points per game and limits its opponents to 107.5. In the Thunders’ most recent loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, it got 24 points and 15 rebounds out of Steven Adams. He looked better than Sixers cornerstone Joel Embiid, and Adams has the potential to do that as a player whose talents are not all translatable into statistics.
With Westbrook gone the thought was that he would be a big-time rebounder, but he seems to still be adjusting to the notion that he can grab them at will without Russ’ concerns of getting triple-doubles. Few expected the Thunder to improve after shedding a triple-double monster like Westbrook, but the balance and overall team play has made the Thunder into a formidable playoff contender.