• It was only four days ago that the Timberwolves went into Oklahoma City and sealed a victory on the last shot of the game.

    It feels like a whole season has passed since that night, like we we’re watching a new team. In two games since Sunday, the Wolves got blown out by the Pacers at home and by the Pistons on the road. Jimmy Butler sat both game because of an illness, but there was no excusing the effort the team put forth in both games.

    The communication on the court was silent, help defense wasn’t arriving on time and it seemed most of the time guys were just rolling through the motions, only showing short bursts of life.

    Perhaps they only need another team from the Western Conference to give them that competitive swagger they had only four days ago.

    Butler’s status is still up in the air, and if he is unable to play the Wolves are going to have an extremely tough time containing the Thunder. Even last Sunday, the Wolves were able to do a nice job defensively versus the Thunder and still gave up 113 points. It looks like Butler will be in there tonight though.

    After building up to that thrilling game last Sunday, it feels like this last week it all came crashing down. The key for the Wolves will be to not panic, pick up the pieces and get back to building. This team as constructed wasn’t going to be ready so soon anyway. These highs and lows will be a common theme, possibly all season.

    As for the Thunder, they’ve only played one game since Sunday and it was versus the Pacers, who they wee able to take down 114-96. Westbrook has a 28 point triple-double, Anthony had a 28 point double-double, and Adams scored 17 with 11 rebounds. George scored only 10 points versus his former team, taking only eight shots. He played only 19 minutes before fouling out.

    George hasn’t really found his rhythm yet with the Thunder, but you expect that he will at any moment.

    Not much has changed since Sunday with the Thunder, they will continue to force the issue with their big three, let Adams clean up any messes and hope that teams continue to guard Andre Roberson. The Thunder are just difficult to contain and even when they don’t play their best game, they can out-talent almost any team in the league.

    They’ll no doubt be out for blood after what Wiggins did to them on Sunday, which makes this game another one with firework potential. Expect no mercy from these guys with or without Butler out there to stop them.

    Key Matchups:

    – Towns vs. Adams

    – Wiggins vs. George

    Towns is going to have to do better on the defensive glass tonight than he was on Sunday. He was burned more than a few times by Adams, and when just about everything has to be perfect to beat these guys, you can’t be giving them extra possessions.

    In their last matchup, Adams was giving Towns the three-pointer whenever he wanted it, and he was okay taking them (except on the second-to-last Wolves possession where Towns beat Adams off the dribble for a go-ahead floater). I would expect more of the same tonight if Butler is in there. If Butler sits, Towns might have to be more aggressive looking for his interior shot tonight.

    Once again, these two will battle it out. Wiggins got the better of George on Sunday and I don’t think either forgot about it. I think we’re going to see both guys heavily involved in the offense, the Thunder trying to get George going and the Wolves out of pure necessity of Wiggins’ offense.

    I’m thinking both guys go for 25 a piece, at least.

    Starting Lineups:

    Jeff Teague

    Jimmy Butler

    Andrew Wiggins

    Taj Gibson

    Karl-Anthony Towns

    vs.

    Russell Westbrook

    Andre Roberson

    Paul George

    Carmelo Anthony

    Steven Adams

    Injury Report:

    Jimmy Butler (illness) – PROBABLE 

    Justin Patton (foot) – OUT 

    Where to Watch:

    8:00 ET/7:00 CT on Fox Sports North

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