News of Love's injury was reported by the Timberwolves' official PR Twitter account, which noted that Dante Cunningham would fill in as a starter:
Kevin Love will not play tonight due to a stiff neck. Cunningham to start in his place.— Timberwolves PR (@Twolves_PR) February 6, 2014
Losing Love for this showdown is a big blow, as the Thunder enter the evening with the NBA's best record at 39-11. Minnesota is still in the playoff hunt with a .500 record but need every victory possible to keep pace in the stacked Western Conference.
With averages of 25.6 points, 13.2 rebounds and four assists per game, it's no wonder Love was named a starter for the upcoming All-Star Game. Cunningham doesn't have the height, strength, shooting or passing ability Love possesses, but then again not many big men around the Association have that versatile of a skill set.
That makes matters more difficult for the visitors to establish anything on the inside against the formidable Oklahoma City front line of Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka, since center Nikola Pekovic is also out.
Look for Minnesota to rely on the flashy play of point guard Ricky Rubio and for Kevin Martin to take on an even bigger scoring role in an effort to keep up with the high-scoring, Kevin Durant-led Thunder.
In the meantime, this shouldn't be too serious of an injury for Love and is probably more precautionary than anything.