The (16-15) Minnesota Timberwolves will hit the road after a two game home-stand as they face off against the (26-8) Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena tonight at 8:00 p.m. (ET)
The Minnesota Timberwolves have done everything possible to try and fulfill the high expectations that were set for them at the start of the season. With the promise of a playoff appearance and a money back guarantee on tickets to boot, the Timberwolves are doing their best to stay afloat in the wake of numerous key injuries.
Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio made their return to the court earlier than expected, and now the Timberwolves are paying the price. Love re-injured his hand on January 3rd while playing at Denver. News broke that Love may need surgery on his re-fractured right hand, but no determination has been made as of yet, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. With Love out indefinitely and Rubio’s overall health still in question, the Timberwolves will need to rely heavily on rookie guard Alexey Shved and center Nikola Pekovic to carry the load in Love’s absence.
Led by the young star trio of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, the Oklahoma City Thunder have surged (no pun intended) to a 17-4 record and are tied with San Antonio for the best record in the NBA. There are many factors to consider when assessing the team's immense success so far this season, but perhaps the most important of all is the improved play of their superstar leader.
Kevin Durant is simply playing the best basketball of his career. The league's reigning scoring champion made a dramatic leap forward during last year's postseason run to the NBA Finals and is keeping that momentum going into this season. What is perhaps more remarkable is that he has improved at nearly every single aspect of his game, which is a scary development for the rest of the NBA. This is why he is a leading candidate to win the 2013 NBA MVP award.
Trailblazers vs. OKC Thunder Preview: Damian Lillard Looks To Take Down The Western Conference Champs
The Portland Trailblazers will visit Oklahoma City today to take on the Thunder. There are many story lines to choose from here, but none more enticing than a guy with rookie of the year potential, Damian Lillard, and how he will fare against the defending Western Conference champs.
After taking down the Lakers in his first game in the NBA, the road doesn't get much easier
Lillard showed some glimpes of how good he can really be in front of an energized Portland crowd on Wednesday as he slashed through the lane and attacked the basket as though Dwight Howard was not lurking in the paint.
It's clear this young fella has no fear.
Lillard has the opportunity to help put the Blazers back on the map as far as NBA title contenders along with some seasoned guys like LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicholas Batum, Wes Matthews, and J.J. Hickson. The talent is there, but it's yet to be seen how much a threat this team can really be in a deep Western Conference.
That being said, if there's any two teams you tend to measure yourself against in the West it's got to be the Lakers and Thunder.