Wolves at Blazers
8:00 pm CST
The Wolves open a difficult back to back tonight in Portland before returning to Los Angeles to face the Clippers tomorrow. The Blazers are off to a terrific 12-4 start with a home loss to the Grizzlies in their last game ending a nine game winning streak.
They are in the top six in both offensive and defensive rating, and they particularly dominate beyond the arc at both ends of the floor. Offensively, they are 4th in the NBA in 3PA and third in 3P%, thanks especially to their starting back court of Damian Lillard and Wesley Matthews, both of whom average over six attempts and nearly three makes a game. Meanwhile, they give up the 3rd fewest three attempts and the 2nd lowest 3P% in the league.
This of course could be a disaster for the Wolves, who have not, to put it charitably, had a good relationship with the three point line this season.
The Blazers also feature LaMarcus Aldridge, who leads the team at 21 points a night behind his usual array of high release jumpers. It could be tough for the Wolves has they really have nobody seemingly capable of challenging Aldridge and stopping him from getting clean looks from his preferred spots in the mid-range.
The Blazers don't have a lot of weaknesses, but they are heavily reliant on jump shooting. If the Wolves want to stay in this one, they are going to have to win the free throw battle by a significant margin. The Blazers are also a low turnover team--both committing and forcing. The Wolves will have to protect the ball and try to force some mistakes from the Blazers to gain extra possessions.
The Wolves of course are coming off an exciting down-to-the-wire win against the Lakers (for which there was no recap; I apologize--holiday travel left us without anyone handling that one. Hopefully it won't happen again). They will be looking to build confidence with another strong performance, and hopefully see some of their young players exhibit their talents again. It will be interesting to see how Zach LaVine goes after his monster performance at Staples that seemed completely out of nowhere, but getting Andrew Wiggins on a roll for a few games in a row seems more important for the future.
This game may also be the debut for the newest member of the Timberwolves, Jeff Adrien, who was signed yesterday with a hardship exemption granted by the league due to the injuries the Wolves have suffered.
We'll be back with a game thread later. Meanwhile, for more on the Blazers, here's a link to Blazer's Edge.