The Minnesota Timberwovles and Oklahoma City Thunder, the teams tied for first in the Western Conference with a 32-14 record, meet in OKC on Monday night.
The Thunder have won eight straight home games but recently lost to the league-worst Detroit Pistons, and Minnesota recently lost to the lowly San Antonio Spurs.
The winner of this game will take sole control of first place in the West, at least for a few days.
|Paycom Center, Oklahoma City, OK
|8 PM ET, Monday, January 29
|How to watch
|NBA League Pass
Mike Conley: Hamstring, questionable
Jaylen Clark: Achilles, out
The Thunder are fully healthy for Monday's game against Minnesota.
Monday's matchup not only features the two best Western Conference teams, it features two of the best defensive teams in the NBA.
The Timberwolves are anchored by Defensive Player of the Year favorite Rudy Gobert, and they allow the fewest points per game in the league, averaging 107.6.
Minnesota's defense is helped by the fact they play at the 24th-fastest pace in the league, meaning that both the Timberwolves and their opponents have fewer opportunities to shoot. The T-Wolves overcome that with their eighth-ranked field goal percentage and second-ranked three-point percentage.
Oklahoma City plays at the 10th fastest pace, and as a result they allow the 13th-fewest points per game with 113.0. Still, their defensive rating is fifth in the league, four spots below Minnesota's.
Gobert and fellow 7-footer Karl-Anthony Towns are the major defensive difference makers in Minnesota's starting five. While OKC has a star rim protector of its own in rookie Chet Holmgren, they rely more on active perimeter defenders in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Luguentz Dort.
Gilgeous-Alexander leads the league with 2.2 steals per game, and Holmgren is fourth in blocks per game with 2.5.
Offensively, the teams are second and third in three-point percentage. Minnesota hits threes 39 percent of the time while OKC does so at a 38.8 percent clip.
The Timberwolves are much worse at taking care of the ball than the Thunder, committing 15.2 turnovers per game to OKC's 12.5. That could be exacerbated by the Thunder's 8.4 steals per game, good for second in the league, and their league-leading 15.9 turnovers forced per game.
Anthony Edwards leads the T-Wolves in scoring with 25.9 points per game, followed closely by Towns' 22.6. For the Thunder, Gilgeous-Alexander is the leading scorer with 31.1 points per game, followed by Jalen Williams with 18.6 and Holmgren with 17.
|Oklahoma City Thunder
Odds mentioned in this article were correct at the time of writing and are subject to change.