Spurs at Wolves
7:00 pm CST
And now it begins. After failing to take advantage of a soft stretch of the schedule, the Wolves now enter a much more difficult stretch that depending on how you look at it lasts until the end of January. In that period, they will play the Thunder three times, the Spurs twice, the Cavs twice, the Mavs twice, and the Jazz twice, among other tough games. It's going to be interesting to watch whether they can remain competitive throughout.
Tonight's opponent is the Spurs, who would be amazing us even more if it weren't for the Warriors, but the Spurs have been plenty good enough. They are beating teams by 13 points a night, have the third best offensive rating and by far the best defensive rating in the league, have incredible depth, and once again have changed their style in order to keep winning.
Here's how good they are: They have the 3rd best offense in the league despite being 25th in 3PA and 27th in FTA per game. That's amazing. They do make the threes they take (3rd in 3P%), but they really shine in creating high percentage 2 point shots. They are 2nd in the league in 2P%.
Defensively, they have no weaknesses. Led by Kawhi Leonard, they are 2nd in the league in opponents 3PA (19 a game), 2nd in opponents 3P% (31%), first in opponents efg%, first in defensive rebounding, and they rarely get called for fouls (1st in opponents FT/FGA). It's incredible. They give you nothing and eventually grind you down with a slow pace that they use to their advantage since they are such an outstanding passing team. Eventually they find an open look, while at the same time completely stifling what you want to do offensively.
It will be fun (I hope) to watch Andrew Wiggins try to find offense against Leonard, who is fresh off demolishing Paul George of the Pacers a couple of nights ago.
The Spurs have emerged as one of the few clear challengers to the Warriors, and seem to be putting it together even earlier than usual this season. with six wins in a row and 10 of their last 11.
It will be a huge test for the Wolves, to see if they can keep their composure against a team capable of making you look very bad, find a way to get some good shots, and stay with a team of this caliber. It won't happen if they fail to defend better than they did in Boston. Offensively, I don't even know what to suggest as the Spurs take away so much and the Wolves are fairly limited. The Spurs protect the rim better than any team in the league, and force you into a lot of contested jumpers.
The next few weeks will be a real measuring stick and hopefully an opportunity for growth for the Wolves. I'm not expecting a ton of wins, but would love to see them compete and steal a few. Tonight is going to be tough, but I'm hoping for a good one.
Our blogging buddies are over at the excellent Pounding The Rock, be nice to each other.
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Enjoy. Chat. Go.