NBA Betting Preview: Oklahoma City Thunder at Minnesota Timberwolves

Oklahoma City Thunder at Minnesota Timberwolves
Target Center – Minneapolis, Minnesota

Wednesday, April 15, 2015, 8:05 pm Eastern, TV: NBA League Pass
Opening Line: Oklahoma City -14
Current Line: Oklahoma City -14
Opening Total: 215 1/2
Current Total: 212 1/2
Opening Money Line: Thunder -1750 / T-Wolves +950
Current Money Line: Thunder -1750 / T-Wolves +950

The Oklahoma City Thunder need a huge game from point guard Russell Westbrook as they try to stay alive for the playoffs.
The Oklahoma City Thunder need a huge game from point guard Russell Westbrook as they try to stay alive for the playoffs.

Despite all of the injuries to star players suffered by the Oklahoma City Thunder, most notably Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City can still make the Western conference playoffs on the last day of the regular season. The Thunder have to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night in Minneapolis, and get some help from the San Antonio Spurs who travel to the New Orleans Pelicans.

Oklahoma City and New Orleans are tied for the #8 seed in the Western Conference playoffs at  44-37, but New Orleans holds the head to head tiebreaker. A Thunder win in Minnesota and a New Orleans loss to San Antonio would give the Thunder the last spot, but any other combination gives the spot to the Pelicans. Minnesota has the worst record in the league at 16-65. San Antonio can clinch both the Southwest Division title and the #2 seed in the playoffs with a win.

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The Thunder, coached by Scott Brooks, have gone 3-7 in their last 10 games, so injuries or not, if they miss the playoffs they have no one to blame but themselves. Oklahoma City beat the Portland Trail Blazers 101-90 Monday night at home. The game was almost meaningless for the Blazers as they were already locked into the #4 seed as Northwest Division champions. OKC was lucky that the NBA rescinded Westbrook’s 16th technical foul earlier that day because that would have meant an automatic one game suspension in a must win game for the Thunder. Westbrook scored 36 points and added 11 rebounds and 7 assists. He took over the scoring lead from Houston’s James Harden in that game. OKC is 38-41-2 ATS and the total is 38-42-1 this season. The Thunder were 8 point favorites against Portland and the total was 217.

Minnesota is coached by Flip Saunders. The Timberwolves have lost 11 straight games and have a worse record than the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers. Minnesota lost at home Monday night 100-88 to the Pelicans. The T-Wolves are 35-45-1 ATS and the total is 43-36-2 this season. Minnesota was a 14 point underdog against the Pelicans and the total was 198.

Oklahoma City has won 20 of the last 23 games against Minnesota including 6 straight. The Thunder have dominated the series this season winning all three games by an average of 13.6 points. Oklahoma City won in Minneapolis 111-92 December 12 and at home 92-84 January 26 and 113-99 March 13.

Oklahoma City is outscoring teams 104-102 this season. The Thunder are #6 in scoring but #23 in points allowed in the league. Oklahoma City is shooting 44.7% from the field and 33.9% from 3 point range. The Thunder make 76.1% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 43.9% from the field and 34.2% from 3 point range. The Thunder are in the top ten in both categories. The Thunder lead the league in rebounding at 47.5 per game and opponents average 42.8 per game. OKC averages 20.6 assists, 14.2 turnovers, 7.3 steals and 5.5 blocks per game.

It isn’t clear where the Thunder would be without the brilliant play of Russell Westbrook. If he hadn’t missed so many games due to a broken hand early in the season, he would be in serious consideration for the MVP along with Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Harden. Westbrook averages 28 points, 7.2 rebounds, 8.6 assists and 2.1 steals per game. He has really carried the load since Durant has only played in 27 games due to a broken foot this season. Durant averages 25.5 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists but is out for the season. Enes Kanter was acquired at the trade deadline from the Utah Jazz and has been very good. He averages 18.3 points and 11 rebounds a game. Serge Ibaka averages 14.3 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. He is out indefinitely with a knee injury and could return for the playoffs if the Thunder make it. Dion Waiters averages 12.1 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.9 assists. Anthony Morrow averages 10.8 points and 2.6 rebounds per game. Perry Jones is out indefinitely with a knee injury.

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Minnesota is being outscored 106-98 this season. The Timberwolves are last in points allowed and #23 in scoring. Minnesota is shooting 43.8% from the field and 33.2% from 3 point range. The T-Wolves are #24 or worse in both categories. Minnesota is #6 in free throw shooting at 77.5% from the line. Opponents are shooting 48.6% from the field and 36.7% from 3 point range. The Timberwolves are #28 or worse in both categories. Minnesota averages 40.9 rebounds and opponents average 43.5 per game. The T-Wolves are #27 in rebounding. Minnesota averages 21.6 assists, 14.3 turnovers, 8.1 steals and 4 blocks per game.

People expected Minnesota to be bad this season after they traded star forward Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the offseason. However, injuries have made them even worse than expected. Ten Timberwolves are listed on the injury report for tonight’s game, including seven that are out. Kevin Martin averages 19.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. He is questionable with an illness. Andrew Wiggins has been the lone bright spot for the Timberwolves in a dismal year. He was acquired in the Love trade and the number #1 pick in last year’s draft is expected to be named the Rookie of the Year. He averages 16.8 points, 4.5 rebounds 2.1 assists and 1.1 steals per game. Shabazz Muhammad and Nikola Pekovic average at least 12.5 points a game but both are out for the season. Gary Neal is out with an ankle injury. He averages 11.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. Ricky Rubio averages 10.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 8.8 assists and 1.7 steals per game. He is also out for the season with an ankle injury. Zach LaVine averages 10 points, 2.8 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game. Other players that are doubtful or out include Chase Budinger, Kevin Garnett, Anthony Bennett, and Gorgui Dieng. Justin Hamilton is probable with a hamstring injury.

Oklahoma City is 5-1 ATS against Northwest Division teams, 5-2 against teams with losing home records, 11-5 after a cover, 1-4 in road games, 1-5 against Western Conference teams, and after scoring 100 points or more, 1-6 overall, 0-5 in Wednesday games, and 0-4 on one day rest. The road team is 4-1 ATS in this series recently. The under is 4-1 in this series recently in Minneapolis.

Minnesota is 23-8-1 ATS after a double digit home loss, 2-6 after allowing more than 100 points, 1-4 after failing to cover, after a straight up loss of 10 points or more, 1-4 on one day rest, 1-5 in Wednesday games, 1-6 at home and against teams with losing road records. The Timberwolves are 6-2 ATS against the Thunder in Minneapolis recently.

The Thunder are far from a great team but they look like an elite team compared to the glorified D-League team that is the Minnesota Timberwolves. It isn’t clear who will even be playing for Minnesota tonight. The Thunder should win this game going away then root for the Spurs to beat the Pelicans.

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