Here’s a purely stat based analysis of tonight’s Timberwolves vs Thunder Play-In game based on this season’s prior matchups.
Regular Season Matchup Winner: Minnesota Timberwolves 3-1
The Minnesota Timberwolves won 3 of their 4 matchups against the OKC Thunder this season. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was the leading scorer overall for both teams, averaging 33.3 points per game* against the Timberwolves. (* Shai missed the October 23, 2022 matchup.)
It’s notable that the Oklahoma City Thunder haven’t faced the Timberwolves post D’Angelo Russell / Mike Conley trade. OKC last faced the Timberwolves on December 16, 2022 in the regular season.
Free Throw Advantage: OKC Thunder
The Thunder are a much better free throw shooting team, averaging 80.9 FT% from the line (5th in the NBA) to the Timberwolves’ 75.5 FT% (23rd in the NBA).
Most of those attempts come courtesy of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who averages 10.9 attempts a game from the charity stripe. In comparison, Anthony Edwards averages 5.3 attempts a game from the free throw line.
Blocks Advantage: Minnesota Timberwolves
Defensively, the Timberwolves average 5.4 blocks a game (4th in the NBA) to the Thunder’s 4.2 blocks per game (22nd in the NBA).
Steals Advantage: OKC Thunder
The two squads are comparable in steals with the Thunder averaging 8.2 steals a game (4th in the league) to the Timberwolves 8 steals a game (5th in the league).
Rebounds Advantage: OKC Thunder
Surprisingly, despite the Timberwolves being one of the tallest rosters in the league, they average only 41.9 rebounds per game (23rd in the NBA).
The Thunder average 43.6 rebounds a game (14th in the NBA) in comparison. They weren’t hindered by the New Orleans Pelicans’ size advantage in their last Play-In game.
Minnesota might be down two bigs as well, as Rudy Gobert is questionable for tonight’s Play-In game due to back spasms. By his own admission, he probably wouldn’t have played the Lakers play-in game even without the suspension.
The Timberwolves are already down center Naz Reid for the season due to a wrist injury that required surgery.
Expect Kyle Anderson to play extended minutes at center again should Gobert be unable to go.
Field Goal Advantage: Minnesota Timberwolves
The Timberwolves’ focus on packing the paint pays off offensively, as they are 3rd in the league in field goal percentage at 49 FG%.
In comparison, the OKC Thunder average 46.5 FG% which is 24th in the league.
Assists Advantage: Minnesota Timberwolves
The Timberwolves are vastly superior in passing the ball around with 26.2 assists a game (8th in the NBA) to the Thunder’s 24.4 assists a game (21st in the league).
Points Scored Advantage: OKC Thunder
The two are comparable in points scored per game with the Thunder averaging 117 (5th in the NBA) to the Timberwolves’ 116 (10th in the NBA).
3 Point Percentage: Minnesota Timberwolves
The Timberwolves are slightly better from behind the arch. Averaging 36.5% (13th in the league) to OKC’s 35.6% (17th in the league).
Turnover Advantage: OKC Thunder
The Minnesota average 14.8 turnovers a game, 27th in the league, almost at the bottom. Meanwhile the Thunder only turnover the ball 12.5 times a game, 4th in the league.
Timberwolves vs Thunder Play-In Live Stream Info
Date: Friday, April 14
Start Time: 9:30 p.m. ET
NBA Live Stream @: ESPN (with a cable provider login). Or watch by subscribing to a 7-day free trial of Fubo.TV.
Venue: Target Center
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Live TV Channel: ESPN
* Winner becomes 8th seed in the West to face the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. Loser goes home to reflect for the summer. The Timberwolves have the ‘home game’ (home court) advantage as the higher regular season seed (8 vs 10).
You can watch the Thunder vs Timberwolves Play-In live stream at ESPN with a cable provider login.
Alternatively, you can stream the play-in tournament game by subscribing to a 7-day free trial of streaming site Fubo.TV.
* Note: This western conference game will not be available live on NBA League Pass.
Timberwolves vs Thunder Injury Impact
The main game changer will be if Rudy Gobert see minutes at center tonight with his back spasm issues. Towns appeared to slightly aggravate his right calf injury last game which kept him out for the bulk of the season. He’s also questionable for tonight’s game.
Should Gobert and Towns be unable to go, the bulk of the center minutes will go to Kyle Anderson.
In the Lakers Play-In matchup on Tuesday, Towns got into foul trouble early. This made Towns more cautious in the paint offensively, fearing to foul out. Even when Towns had favorable matchups against Austin Reaves and Dennis Schröder, he declined to post up.
Taurean Prince saw increased minutes against the Lakers with Jaden McDaniels out due to a broken hand.
Anthony Edwards seems to be playing hurt as well since coming back from injury, as he doesn’t seem like his regular self lately. Timberwolves Guard Jaylen Nowell is dealing with a knee injury and is questionable.
Thunder forward Aleksej Pokuševski will not participate in Friday’s Play-In matchup due to a lingering knee issue as well.
The Minnesota Timberwolves vs Oklahoma City Thunder will be the final game of the NBA Play-In Tournament. Playoffs begin Saturday at 1:00 pm ET.
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