NBA Picks: Thunder vs. Timberwolves

Joe Catalano

Friday, March 29, 2013 3:16 PM GMT

The Minnesota Timberwolves (25-45) have the unenviable task of welcoming in Kevin Durant and the rest of the Oklahoma City Thunder (53-19) into the Target Center tonight.

OKC has beaten the Wolves 14 out of their last 15 meetings and it doesn’t appear that it will get better.

Tip-off is scheduled for tonight at 8:00 pm ET at in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

5 Dimes Sportsbook lists the NBA odds for this one with the Thunder as an 8 point favorite and the total for the game is 201.5. During the Thunder’s current 3 game winning streak, the top ranked offense in the NBA has looked more towards defense and has averaged 101 points per game offensively.

When these two teams get together at the Target Center it usually means a high scoring affair. Oklahoma City has averaged an astonishing 115.2 points per game in its last 11 games at Minnesota. Whether high scoring or just moderate, the Timberwolves look to be overmatched here.

Scoring Championship in Jeopardy?

Kevin Durant has been slightly less effective in the last 3 games and it’s equated to victories. KD has averaged 23 points in his last 3 games while putting up a meager 10 shots against Washington. In his two games prior to the winning streak, Durant averaged 33 points and over 25 shot attempts per game and the Thunder lost both games.

Make no mistake about it; this is Kevin Durant’s team, but look for Durant to defer at times and get other teammates involved as the regular season is winding down. Durant has gotten to the stage in his career in which the numbers don’t matter as much as winning a championship.

Minnesota has a major defensive force in the middle in Nikola Pekovic and it’s possible that Durant will think offense slightly less unless the Timberwolves are giving OKC trouble.

KMART

Although the Timberwolves are missing Kevin Love, they contain a lot of offensive depth, especially at the guard position. This is the type of game that Oklahoma City picked Kevin Martin up for. He has a distinct advantage at 6 foot 7 at the guard position which enables him to free himself up to shoot in OKC’s run and gun style of offense.

Martin is a “one trick pony”. Basically all that he brings to the table is his ability to shoot, but that’s all that Oklahoma City needs. Martin is averaging 15 points in his last 5 games on 51% from the field, 55% from 3 point range and 82.4% from the charity stripe. He’s no James Harden, but Martin is a great fit that should be effective against Minnesota.

Beasting

Nikola Pekovic is the total package at an intimidating 6 foot 11, 290 pounds. He has a soft touch and is a physical force inside. Pekovic has been on fire as of late. In his last 2 games, he’s averaging 18.5 points and 13.5 rebounds per game. Look for Rubio to seek out Pekovic often. It’s Minnesota’s only chance to win this game.

Kevin Durant isn’t a physical player. As I recall when he was drafted, he couldn’t bench press 180 pounds. For a man of his size, that’s pure weak. He’ ll look to avoid any physicality with Pekovic and play a game using more finesse.

[gameodds]5/223315/43-1593-19-999996/us[/gameodds]

Outcome

Minnesota is better than their record indicates and 8 points might be a bit much here. Although the Thunder have been holding their opponents in check, the betting total seems to be quite low. Look for an easy over for your NBA betting here.

NBA Pick: Oklahoma City/Minnesota OVER 201.5 at bovada