Blazers at Wolves
7:00 pm CST
The Blazers come in at 41-19 and third in the Western Conference, but suffered a blow in their last game when Wesley Matthews injured his achilles tendon. Matthews, who has buried the Wolves several times in the past, was the Blazers' biggest threat from behind the arc-shooting 39% on over seven attempts per game, a big part of an attack that has them ranked 4th in 3PA and 6th in 3P%.
The injury to Matthews makes their acquisition of Arron Afflalo from Denver at the trade deadline even more important, as Afflalo will step in to the starting off-guard role, though of course it is a blow to their depth and overall quality.
Still, the Blazers are not short on talent and are led by point guard Damian Lilliard, both of whom average over 36 minutes and 20 points a night.
Their defense has been especially strong this season with an overall 3rd place ranking in the NBA. They do an excellent job of protecting the rim without fouling, holding opponents to the 2nd lowest EFG% in the league and the 3rd lowest FT/FGA rate. Thanks to excellent defense in the paint from Robin Lopez and others, teams shoot the 4th lowest FG% against the Blazers within 3 feet, and get a below average percentage of opportunities there as well.
Meanwhile, they are even more effective guarding the arc, holding opponents to the 2nd lowest percentage of attempts that are threes AND the second lowest 3P%. That's a remarkable combination, and given the Wolves offensive proclivities, expect to see a lot of mid-range jumpers from our Wolves tonight.
The teams have split the first two meetings of the season, each winning at home. The Wolves win was a surprise, of course, even though Portland was on the 2nd night of a back to back. In that one, Andrew Wiggins had a big game (23 and 10), the Wolves were able to get to the line (33 attempts to the Blazers 12) and Portland shot abnormally poorly. It was a bright spot in an otherwise miserable run in the first half of the season for the Wolves, who had lost six straight coming into that one and would go on to endure a 15 game losing streak following.
In order to win tonight, the Wolves will once again have to win the free throw battle (the Blazers are not a big foul drawing team) and control their defensive glass. The Wolves have lost four in a row and looked terrible the other night against the Nuggets. They need to get that turned around. Meanwhile, the Blazers will look to keep things going in the face of a difficult injury to one of their core players.
Here's a link to Blazer's Edge. Be excellent. Or at least not bad.
No pics, gifs, links to illegal streams.
Enjoy the game. Chat here. Go Wolves.