Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Minnesota Timberwolves NBA Playoffs Play-In Game — Prediction, Starting Lineups, Odds (4/14/23)

The Oklahoma City Thunder (40-42) face the Minnesota Timberwolves (42-40) for the right to face Denver in the First Round of the NBA playoffs. The usual suspects are out for Oklahoma City – Kenrich Williams, Aleksej Pokusevski, and Chet Holmgren. On the other side, Minnesota will be without Jaden McDaniels and Naz Reid. Rudy Gobert, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Jaylen Nowell are questionable too, although Towns is expected to suit up.

Check out below for Thunder vs. Timberwolves predictions, odds, trends, and starting lineups.

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Minnesota Timberwolves Prediction

Prediction: Thunder +5.5 & Thunder moneyline

Firstly, Rudy Gobert’s serious potential to miss this contest is a game-changer. He remains a formidable rim protector, and the Thunder rank 1st in drives per game and FGA in the restricted area. His roll threat and offensive rebounding also exploits two areas of weaknesses for the Thunder. Even if he plays, he won’t be close to 100% healthy – a huge advantage for Oklahoma City.

The Timberwolves’ lack of off the dribble scorers and tough shot-makers means their offense experiences significant droughts. In their loss versus the Lakers, they only managed 16 points during the final 17 minutes and scored a total of 102 points despite Prince and Conley combining to shoot 10/15 from three. Minnesota simply couldn’t drive to the rim, and Edwards struggled with Los Angeles’ on-ball pressure.

Unfortunately for him, it gets much worse as Luguentz Dort awaits him in this matchup. Dort’s upper body strength, lateral quickness, and relentless motor will limit Edwards’ ability to create an inch of separation. Edwards also doesn’t have the luxury of shooting over him like Brandon Ingram could.

This is a Wolves team that ranked 25th in turnover percentage too, and they committed 20 versus Los Angeles. Enter the Thunder, who rank 2nd in opponent turnover percentage, 2nd in percent of points off turnovers, and 7th in deflections. Oklahoma City likely consistently breaks up their half-court sets and forces them to settle for contested jumpers.

Meanwhile, Gilgeous-Alexander just dropped 32 points against one of the best on-ball defenders in Herb Jones. With McDaniels out, Gilgeous-Alexander won’t have to face a premier defender. Shai, Giddey, and Jalen will also be able to drag Towns into space and easily drive past him for layups or kick outs.

However, Minnesota possesses plenty of advantages here too. Oklahoma City has no answer for Towns’ offensive repertoire, especially if his three-point shot is humming. The Wolves can dominate the boards and rack up second chance points. Plus, they are filled with shooters that will punish the Thunder for collapsing inside – a likely necessity given Minnesota’s size advantage. Mike Conley and Kyle Anderson are also filled with veteran experience and have been in the big moments countless times.

Overall, +5.5 and +185 are poorly set lines to me that hold tremendous value. The Thunder will bring this down to the wire, and they have the offense to execute down the stretch while the same cannot confidently be said about Minnesota.

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Minnesota Timberwolves Betting Odds

Minnesota is a solid favorite as the spread has settled at -5.5 Timberwolves. For Oklahoma City’s +185 moneyline to hold a positive expected value, they must win at least 36% of the time. In other words, if this game was simulated 100 times, Oklahoma CIty would only need to win 36 of them for their moneyline to be profitable.

The Thunder finished the regular season 3rd in cover percentage and 5th in over percentage. Meanwhile, the Pelicans were 16th in cover percentage and 25th in over percentage.

Betting Trends

  • Thunder are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 road games
  • Timberwolves are 2-7 ATS in their last 9 home games
  • Thunder are 2-5 ATS in the last 7 meetings
  • Under is 5-1 in the last 6 meetings in Minnesota

Key Matchups

Which teams will win the game-determining matchups?

Luguentz Dort Shooting

Dort’s shooting is extremely inconsistent; he can shoot 1/7 from three one game and then 4/6 the next. He’s coming off a monstrous 27-point performance on 8/14 shooting against the Pelicans, and the Thunder will be in great shape if he comes close to that. With all of their rim pressure, solid three-point shooting enhances their offense immensely.

Karl-Anthony Towns Fouls

The Lakers largely won because foul trouble forced Towns off the court. Most of them were foolish fouls, which has become a trend with him. If Minnesota is going to win, then it’s essential that he’s able to play a large number of minutes because he’s their best weapon against this Thunder defense.

Oklahoma City Thunder Starting Lineup

PG: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
SG: Luguentz Dort
SF: Josh Giddey
PF: Jalen Williams
C: Jaylin Williams

Minnesota Timberwolves Starting Lineups

PG: Mike Conley
SG: Anthony Edwards
SF: Kyle Anderson
PF: Karl-Anthony Towns
C: Rudy Gobert

Key Injuries

Oklahoma City Thunder Injuries: Kenrich Williams (O), Aleksej Pokusevski (O), Chet Holmgren (O)

Minnesota Timberwolves Injuries: Karl-Anthony Towns (Q), Rudy Gobert (Q), Jaden McDaniels (O), Naz Reid (O), Jaylen Nowell (Q)

Braxton has been covering the NBA for Lineups since the 2022 season. He's worked with multiple collegiate coaching staffs regarding analytics and scouting, which has allowed him to understand the game on a deeper level. Braxton is also a contributor at Thunderous Intentions.

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