The Oklahoma City Thunder are dangerous opponents for the Minnesota Timberwolves on Christmas Day given Russell Westbrook's hot shooting. But, the Timberwolves can probably gain an edge over OKC if they manage to employ the same strategy used by the Portland Trail Blazers.
Ever since the season started, Westbrook has been playing like an angry man on the court. Like a one-man army, Westbrook has singlehandedly led the league due to his triple-doubles. It's also reached a point that the hype about his shooting is starting to irritate him.
"Honestly, man, people and this triple-doubling think is kind of getting on my nerves, really," he said. "People think of I don't get it, it's like a big thing. When I don't get it, it's a thing. If y'all just let me play - if get it, I get it. If I don't, I don't care."
"It is what it is," he added. "I really don't care. For the hundredth time. I don't care. All I care about is winning, honestly."
Still though, for any team, going up against Westbrook and the Thunder on a good night can be difficult. But, as proven by other teams in the recent games, Westbrook is unstoppable. As shown by the Trail Blazers on Dec. 13, keeping the pain congested with defenders can force Westbrook into taking contested jump shots. This tactic worked well for the Timberwolves as it significantly decreased Westbrook's scoring that night. In fact, through Minnesota's defense, Westbrook was only able to claim 20 points, which is far below his average of 31.1.
Eliminating Westbrook's scoring abilities is obviously what the Timberwolves need to do in order to win the upcoming game on Christmas. However, as noted by Washington Post, this isn't as simple as it seems, especially given the Timberwolves' defensive layout.
In Minnesota's previous games, the Timberwolves allow their opponents to score an average of 45.5 points from the paint. This number certainly shows how ineffective their defense is.
But, now that they are aware of their weakness and the Thunder's strength, which is Westbrook, then maybe Minnesota will be able to prepare for these elements on Dec. 25, when they take on OKC at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.