What: Minnesota Timberwolves (1-4) at Brooklyn Nets (2-4)
Where: Barclays Center - Brooklyn, NY
When: 6:30 PM CST (TV coverage on FS North)
The Wolves embark on their first back-to-back slate on Tuesday night against the Brooklyn Nets. Needless to say, Minnesota could use a win right now.
In each of the Wolves’ four losses this season, the team has stayed competitive for at least two quarters, and sometimes three (if you count a desperate comeback attempt in the fourth quarter).
The repetitive theme in each loss has been Minnesota’s hysterically dreadful third quarter performances. Overall, the Wolves have registered a poopy third quarter net rating of -37.9, which ranks dead last in the NBA (shocking, right?). Here are the third quarter outcomes in each loss.
- at Memphis: 16-26
- at Sacramento: 12-31
- vs. Denver: 14-33
- at Oklahoma City: 19-31
On the bright side, the Wolves do rank eighth in the NBA in overall net rating at 4.4, just ahead of the Golden State Warriors (2.7). In short, the Wolves have played winning basketball in quarters one, two and four of games, but have been so completely embarrassed in the third quarter that it negates the positives of the other three periods.
I’m not sure what is going on in the locker room at halftime, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the current routine isn’t working. Maybe the team should just chill on the bench and watch the halftime show? This way, Thibs and the coaching staff could go get nachos or something. Everyone wins.
Brooklyn is coming off a close home loss to the Charlotte Hornets and sits at 2-4 with both wins coming at home (vs. Detroit and vs. Indiana). Former Timberwolf Sean Kilpatrick is excelling as the Nets’ sixth man, averaging 17 points on 45 percent shooting and 41.4 percent from beyond the arc. Kilpatrick has flourished in increased minutes while Jeremy Lin nurses a hamstring injury.
Stepping into the starting point guard role for Brooklyn in place of Lin is second-round rookie Isaiah Whitehead, who just so happens to have some history with Minnesota rookie Kris Dunn.
With Dunn being from Providence and Whitehead from Seton Hall, the two rookie guards had the chance to battle each other four times in their college careers as members of the Big East. Each player was victorious twice with these statistical outputs.
- DUNN: 15.0 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 4.5 APG, 3.3 SPG, 22/49 FG (1/8 3pt FG)
- WHITEHEAD: 18.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 5.0 APG, 1.0 SPG, 26/53 FG (9/22 3pt FG)
In their most recent meeting, Whitehead and the Pirates got the best of Dunn and his Friars. In the 70-52 win, Whitehead tallied 25 points on eight for 12 shooting and three of four from three-point range while adding six boards and nine assists. Dunn, meanwhile, only mustered eight points on four of 12 from the field while battling foul trouble in the losing effort.
The rekindling of this matchup between two of the best guards in the Big East over the past couple of seasons should be a treat to watch.
Expected Starting Lineups
PG - Kris Dunn (6.4 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 4.6 APG, .379/.500/.500)
SG - Zach LaVine (17.8 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 2.4 APG, .446/.452/.850)
SF - Andrew Wiggins (20.6 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 1.2 APG, .467/.545/.730)
PF - Gorgui Dieng (10.6 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 1.6 APG, .548/.000/.875)
C - Karl-Anthony Towns (22.4 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 3.0 APG, .537/.500/.727)
PG - Isaiah Whitehead (4.4 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 2.2 APG, .385/.167/.500)
SG - Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (3.7 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 3.0 APG, .286/.286/.667)
SF - Bojan Bogdanovic (15.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 0.8 APG, .425/.333/.944)
PF - Trevor Booker (8.8 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 1.8 APG, .489/.000/.900)
C - Brook Lopez (19.4 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 0.8 APG, .473/.333/.800)
Minnesota: Ricky Rubio (Out - elbow)
Brooklyn: Jeremy Lin (Out - hamstring), Randy Foye (Questionable - hamstring), Greivis Vasquez (Questionable - ankle)
Let’s take a quick peek at how the Wolves and Nets match up using the Four Factors. As a quick refresher, the Four Factors are effective field goal percentage (eFG%), turnover percentage (TOV%), offensive rebounding percentage (ORB%), and free throw rate (FTR).
Factor / Wolves / Nets
eFG% / 50.0% / 49.1%
TOV% / 16.4 / 16.2
ORB% / 30.3% / 23.0%
FTR / .337 / .241
We’re just five games into the season, but the Wolves continue to impress in a few of these categories in comparison to the rest of the league. In particular, Minnesota is third in FTR (trailing just Atlanta and Denver) and second in ORB% (trailing just Chicago). Meanwhile, Brooklyn does not crack the top half of the NBA in any of the four factors (except TOV%, but that’s not a good thing). The Nets’ highest rank in the four factors is 16th in ORB%.
On paper, the Wolves are the better team. And if they can put together a third quarter that isn’t completely abysmal, they should be able to win this game.
Prediction: Wolves 111, Nets 94
The game thread is now open. Go Wolves!