Nerlens Noel Undergoes Surgery. Out vs. Timberwolves

Erik Gee

Nerlens Noel will be out tonight's game with Minnesota Timberwolves. Noel underwent surgery to repair the zygomatic arch in his left cheek. His status will be updated next week. As of 4:30 central Steven Adams is listed as questionable and Abdel Nader is out, Danilo Gallinari is out  (sore left thumb) and Terrance Ferguson is out for personal reasons. Nader and Adams are both suffering from left knee sprains. Billy Donovan will not give a timetable or shed any more light on what is going on with Ferguson. 

Adams was working out before Friday's game with the Hawks. If he can't go tonight, Mike Muscala will start at center (he is listed as a forward/center), and the Thunder will have to go small, which will be a tough go against Karl Anthony-Townes and Gorgui Dieng.  Townes is averaging 26.5 points and 10.9 rebounds per game. Dieng is averaging 8 points and six rebounds per game. Without Adams and Noel on Wednesday, the Magic scored 54 points in the paint: a feat that was matched by the Thunder. Rember, Friday Sam Presti sent Justin Patton to the Mavericks for Isiah Roby. Wich means no Adams, no true centers Gallinari spent time at the five while Noel and Adams rested vs. Orlando. Since is Gallinari out, we could see Kevin Hervey get significant time at the five when Muscala is on the bench. Hervey (6-9 230) played 3:09 in the Thunder's hammering of the Hawks on Friday. 

Possible starting five if Adams does not play: PG Chirs Paul, SG, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, SF Lugentz Dort, PF Darius Bazley, C Mike Muscala. I'll go out on not much of a limb and say Adams plays and as long as he can give his normal minutes (27 per game) Muscala will get the 18 that Noel gets and we barley see Hervey unless Muscala or Adams is in foul trouble. 

Muscala is on a tear. He's hit eight three-pointers in Oklahoma City's last two games. Donovan says, "I give him credit; there have been times he's been out of the rotation." ..."He's really reliable; he's smart, he's an outstanding defensive player, he's a great teammate, I think he contributes in a lot of different ways to the group, for me as a coach I feel like when you throw him in there, he's going to be reliable." 

The Thunder are 21-8 since Thanksgiving Only the Bucks, Lakers, and Jazz have been better during that stretch.  Oklahoma City is just two games out of the fifth seed in the western conference. 

Vegas insider has the Thunder as a 2 point favorite. Both teams are on the second of a back to back, Minnesota is coming off a 131-124 loss to Houston.  Tipoff is at 7 pm on Fox Sports Oklahoma.

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