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Timberwolves at 76ers Preview: Race to the Bottom

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In tonight's game, two of the top teams in the NBA jockey for better position in the all-important contest at the end of the year: the playoffs draft lottery. Really, the Wolves will look to avenge a bad loss at Target Center from earlier this year in LoBro and Thad's return to the team they made their NBA debuts for. #TheReturn

Tells a thousand words, doesn't it?
Tells a thousand words, doesn't it?
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Eric summarized this game in today's Cup of Canis pretty nicely:

Two of the worst teams in the league are facing off tonight with the Wolves looking to avoid a season sweep by the Sixers, who got their first win of the season after 17 straight losses when the visited Target Center in December in one of the truly terrible games of the season. The Sixers didn't even play well, and still were able to notch their first win that night as both teams shot under 40%. It was not pretty.

This is essentially the bottom of the NBA's version of next week's Warriors-Hawks showdown:

Team Record GB

Minnesota

8-37 --
New York 9-38 --
Philadelphia 9-37 0.5
LA Lakers 13-34 4.0
Orlando 15-34 5.0

A Minnesota win will drop the Timberwolves back "behind" both the Knicks and the 76ers, so some may be cheering for a Philadelphia victory tonight. However, this is also a fantastic opportunity for the Wolves' first multiple-game winning streak of the year, and would be great momentum going into Saturday's showdown with the Cavaliers at Target Center. Let's get that W!

The Matchup

Minnesota Timberwolves (8-37, 5th Northwest Division) at Philadelphia 76ers (9-37, 4th Atlantic Division)

Friday, January 30, 2015, 6:00pm CT

Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA

The Season Series

12/3/14: 76ers 85, Timberwolves 77 (@MIN) (Canis Hoopus recap) (Liberty Ballers recap)

tonight: Timberwolves at 76ers

Last Five

Minnesota Philadelphia (recaps courtesy of Liberty Ballers)
Wed 1/28: BOS, W 110-98 (recap) Wed 1/28: DET, W 89-69 (recap)
Mon 1/26: @OKC, L 92-84 (recap) Mon 1/26: @NO, L 99-74 (recap)
Sun 1/25: @ATL, L 112-100 (recap) Sat 1/24: @MEM, L 101-83 (recap)
Fri 1/23: NO, L 92-84 (recap) Fri 1/23: TOR, L 91-86 (recap)
Wed 1/21: DAL, L 98-75 (recap) Wed 1/21: NY, L 98-91 (recap)

Both teams won their last outing after losing several previous games, including a couple of smackdowns (Wolves getting crushed by the Mavs, Sixers by the Pelicans and Grizzlies).

Injury and Transaction News

For the Timberwolves, Mo Williams (personal) should return tonight, although the point guard rotation is now much more interesting with the addition of Lorenzo Brown and his quality outing on Wednesday (more on that below). Kevin Martin (wrist) played well in his return on Wednesday, and Nikola Pekovic continues to put in quality minutes. Ricky Rubio (ankle) and Shabazz Muhammad (oblique) remain out, although both could be back by the All-Star break.

For the 76ers, Michael Carter-Williams (upper respiratory infection) missed Monday's game but played well on Wednesday, finishing with 14 points, 9 rebounds and 10 assists in the Sixers' win against the Pistons.

Fun with Numbers

Lorenzo Brown impressed many in these circles with his debut on Wednesday night, racking up 11 points, 1 rebound and 3 assists in 24 minutes. I asked Derek Bodner of Liberty Ballers for some comments on Brown's time with the Sixers last year:

Brown showed a good eye for a pass on Wednesday and shot decently (3-6, 2-3 3PT), and we'll see how he enjoys being back in Philadelphia. This is also Thad Young's return to Wells Fargo Center and the team he spent the first seven seasons of his career with.

TV and Radio Coverage

TV: Fox Sports North, NBA League Pass

Radio: 830 WCCO

For the Sixer perspective, check out Liberty Ballers. Go Wolves!