Who: Minnesota Timberwolves (17-29) vs. Brooklyn Nets (9-37)
Where: Target Center — Minneapolis, Minnesota
When: 8:00 pm CST (TV coverage on Fox Sports North)
Oh no, a loss proof game.
Is there any theoretical scenario more suggestive of a Wolves win than facing the unrivaled worst team in the league when they are on a road back-to-back?
Last night, while the Nets were having 59 combined points hung on them by Lebron James and Kyrie Irving, the Wolves had the evening off. As the Nets took a red-eye from Cleveland to Minneapolis, the Wolves were free to relax at home in the midst of a three-game homestand.
Las Vegas has the Wolves as a “-800” moneyline favorite— meaning to logically bet on the Wolves you would need to believe there is greater than an 89 percent chance they win.
With a further look into the Wolves results this season, the wins have in fact been feasts upon the lesser teams of the league and the losses have largely been the opposite as the greater teams have taken care of the Wolves.
Wolves Wins: 11 of 17 against sub-.500 teams
Wolves Losses: 16 of 29 against over-.500 teams
Brooklyn certainly falls into the “sub-.500” category. At 9-37, the Nets have to be considered the worst team ever that is actively NOT tanking.
But wait, I thought tanking was great?
(Saric is my favorite part of that.)
Remember when the Nets traded the farm for grandpa KG and great-uncle Paul? Yeah, they gave up numerous unprotected first round picks for two guys who were well... past their prime.
This process for the Nets is in fact not a process. Unlike the Hinkie-Sixers novel, that at least had some truthers (‘sup?), this Nets picture book has the one dollar sticker on it. (You know the book shelf that is outside of the bookstore to entice customers? The books the owner doesn’t really care if you just steal so he/she doesn’t have to look at them anymore. Yeah, that’s the Nets.)
Here’s the cover of that book:
Anyways, the Boston Celtics have the rights to the Nets pick in June. According to Tankathon.com (awesome website name), the Nets pick has a 25 percent chance of being number one overall, a 64.3 percent chance of being in the top-3, and a 100 percent chance of being in the top-4.
Remember when the Wolves traded peak-KG for Al Jefferson and Sebastian Telfair? Eff.
All of that is, literally, neither here nor there. What is here is the 9-37 Brooklyn Nets. Wait before scrolling down... try and guess the Nets starting lineup in Cleveland last night.
Clue: Only one player from the above picture started.
Answer: Justin Hamilton, Bojan Bogdanovic, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Randy Foye, and Spencer Dinwiddie.
This probably isn’t a good time to remind you that the Wolves are actually one of the Nets nine wins this season. On November 8th, Brook Lopez, Justin Hamilton and Bojan Bogdanovic combined to make nine threes and the Nets beat the Wolves 119-110.
This is what the Nets do this season. New Head Coach Kenny Atkinson has hypnotized his team into believing that each and every one of his players is not a D-League player but instead Steph Curry.
Maybe my favorite WTF stat trend of the year is the Brook Lopez three-point barrage. Before this season, Lopez had made three total three-pointers. This season, Lopez has shot 217 shots from deep.
In all seriousness, the Wolves need to get out on the three-point shooters in this matchup. Namely, Gorgui Dieng did not believe the Nets bigs would shoot threes in the first matchup.
To be fair, that was only the sixth game of the Nets season. But the book is now out on them— Stop the three and they stop. The Nets take 33 threes per game, second most in the league. In every one of their wins, they have made 9 or more threes.
“And now, the loser-proof starting lineups...”
Expected Starting Lineups
PG - Ricky Rubio
SG - Zach LaVine
SF - Andrew Wiggins
PF - Gorgui Dieng
C - Karl-Anthony Towns
Injuries: Nikola Pekovic (RIP)
PG - Spencer Dinwiddie
SG - Randy Foye
SF - Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
PF - Trevor Booker (Questionable)
C - Brook Lopez
Trevor Booker (Illness) questionable for Nets tonight. Jeremy Lin and Joe Harris are out. Lopez, who was rested Friday, will play.— Kent Youngblood (@BloodStrib) January 28, 2017
As we always do in game previews, let’s take a look at how the Wolves and Nets match up using the Four Factors. Reminder, 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% / 50.8% / 50.9%
TOV% / 15.2 / 16.1
ORB% / 27.1% / 19.1%
FTR / .285 / .276
I think a golf clap is warranted for the Wolves and probably the Tom Thibodeau offensive system. Without major changes to the players getting minutes, the Wolves offensive rebound percentage has increased from 14th best in the league to 4th this season. An ORB% of 27.1 percent is quite good. With more than half of a season in the books, this can safely be called one of the Wolves strengths.
Brooklyn is particularly incompetent rebounding, 28th in the NBA in overall rebounding percentage. By taking advantage of the boards and, again, limiting the Nets clean three-point looks the Wolves have a clear path to a home win.
Prediction: Wolves 107 Nets 80
Our friends at @NetsDaily are a good follow on the twitter. Go Wolves.