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Wolves at Pelicans Game Preview

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Jrue Holiday’s return has sparked a three game winning streak for the Pels. This will be a good test for our inconsistent Wolves.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Wolves (4-9) at Pelicans (5-10)
8:30 pm CDT
ESPN

The Pelicans come into tonight’s tilt with a similar record to the Wolves, but after a nightmare 2-10 start, they have won three in a row over quality opponents, including last night’s win in Atlanta over the Hawks. The winning streak coincides with the return of Jrue Holiday, who is coming off the bench at the moment behind second year point guard/revelation Tim Frazier, giving them an enviable pairing at the point to go along with star Anthony Davis.

Holiday has come in on fire, taking on a bigger scoring role and playing some alongside Frazier, getting to the rim and converting. It’s terrific to see him back after he took some time to care for his family—wife Lauren Holiday who was undergoing treatment for cancer and their newborn infant. He’s a fun player to watch, a big, physical guard who would be a great model for Kris Dunn’s development.

The Pels had a scare last night when Anthony Davis hobbled to the locker room after diving for a loose ball, but he returned and is expected to play tonight, which means we get the marquee matchup of Davis against Karl-Anthony Towns. Davis has been absolutely rolling this season, averaging 30 and 11 (plus three blocks, two steals, and two assists) and basically doing everything for this squad. After last season’s team disappointment and injury, Davis is back playing some of the best basketball in the league, and will be a real measuring stick for Towns. Defending his forays to the basket will be a monumental task, as will trying to score over him in the paint.

The Wolves will need some quality bench production tonight to match the Pels, who, in addition to Holiday, are getting contributions from Terrence Jones and Langston Galloway off the bench. Meanwhile, summer signings E’Twaun Moore and Solomon Hill got off to rocky starts but are showing signs of rounding into better form. Things always look better when you win a few, and the Pels are looking a lot more dangerous than they did two weeks ago.

One area the Wolves need to exploit is the offensive boards. The Pels are 30th in the league in offensive rebounding, while the Wolves are second. While the Pels do a good job on the defensive glass, the Wolves need to win the second chance points battle. The Pels are a low turnover squad, so getting out in transition will be difficult.

The Wolves also need to find their three-point stroke. The Pels give up the most made threes in the league (and the second most attempts), so hopefully the Wolves can find (and make!) open looks at the arc. They have inevitably cooled down since their red-hot start from downtown, but have players capable of making open threes. I’m hopeful that Zach LaVine in particular can take advantage of this and rebound from his rough night against the Celtics. He needs to make shots to make a difference.

We’ll have a game thread later, and David Naylor is down in New Orleans to cover this one for us, so he’ll have the recap.

Meanwhile, have a great Wednesday, and here’s hoping you have fun and rewarding Thanksgiving plans.