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Wizards at Timberwolves: Game #61

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The Wolves host the Wizards tonight at Target Center. It's the first meeting of the year between these two squads.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Wizards at Wolves
7:00 pm CST
FS North

The Wizards are having a disappointing year so far, sitting at 29-30 and 10th in the Eastern Conference after winning 46 games last season and reaching the 2nd round of the playoffs with much the same team. They are, however, only two losses behind the 5th place Hawks in the East and still have time to make a run up the crowded East standings, so games like tonight are vital for them as they turn into the homestretch. They are also coming in on a three game winning streak, sandwiching two wins over the Sixers around a win over the LeBron James-less Cavaliers.

The Wizards, led by John Wall and his blinding speed, play at the 4th fastest pace in the league, and unlike some of Randy Wittman's past teams, they aren't afraid to shoot from deep, as they are 14th in 3PA on the season and 11th in 3P%. Wall himself has become a passable three point shooter at over 34%, and Jared Dudley and Bradley Beal are both having good years from beyond the arc.

They are, however, fairly mediocre on both sides of the ball, on offense because they do not get offensive rebounds and don't get to the line enough to make them a truly efficient team despite having a good efg%, and on defense because they give up too many easy shots and opponents have the 5th highest efg% against them in the league. This is especially true on long range shots as teams are shooting 37.5% from three against the Wizards, the 2nd highest figure in the league, though something the Wolves are not particularly equipped to take advantage of.

Recent arrival Markieff Morris has not gotten off to a good start in a Wizards uniform, missing all 11 of his three point attempts over seven games and shooting under 40% overall. However, his move into the starting lineup in their last game against the Sixers proved beneficial for Morris, as he had his best game as a Wizard with 16 and 13 rebounds. Presumably we'll see him back in the starting lineup tonight, and whether he can exploit his perimeter skills against one of the Wolves bigs or if the Wolves can take advantage of their size will be something to keep an eye on.

Meanwhile, Otto Porter is quietly rounding into a starting quality small forward in his third year in the league, with numbers up across the board. He's currently 14th in the league in RPM at the position, with a positive defensive contribution leading the way. His match up with the flashier and higher scoring Andrew Wiggins will be another fun one.

The headliner for me however, will be between John Wall and Ricky Rubio. Wall is very difficult to deal with due to his speed, and whether Rubio can use his defensive smarts to slow him down will go a long way to determining whether the Wolves have a shot in this one.

Expected Lineups

Wizards

John Wall
Garrett Temple
Otto Porter
Markieff Morris
Marcin Gortat

Wolves

Ricky Rubio
Zach LaVine
Andrew Wiggins
Gorgui Dieng
Karl-Anthony Towns

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