Wizards at Wolves
7:00 pm CST
After tonight, the Wolves have four of their next five on the road, albeit against beatable teams. That begins tomorrow night in New Orleans, so it would behoove them to finish their four game home stand strong against the Wizards. A win tonight would give them a 3-1 mark, with only an ugly loss to the Heat marring the week.
The Wizards come in at 10-9 on the season, though they’ve been somewhat unlucky. They are in the top half of the league both offensively and defensively, though realistically we can throw their team numbers out the window in the absence of John Wall, who is out for a couple of weeks with a knee injury. In his place they are starting Tim Frazier.
Bradley Beal has been the Wizards’ top scorer this season at over 24 per, and is doing it from both beyond the arc and inside, while getting to the line at a career high rate. The Wolves will have to contest him without fouling tonight, while also not allowing Otto Porter to get too many open looks from the arc.
Of course their task will be made easier in the absence of the lightning fast and terrific passing Wall, who is really their engine. Still, they were very competitive with the Blazers in their last game without Wall on Saturday, so it’s not going to be easy just because he’s out.
One area the Wolves might be able to exploit is offensive rebounding. The Wizards have not been a great defensive rebounding team this season (22nd in defensive rebound rate) and the Wolves have proven very effective at crashing the offensive glass. It could be a big night in that area for Karl-Anthony Towns and Taj Gibson.
But they have to tighten up defensively. It feels as if they’ve taken a step backward in that area over the past few games, which is disheartening. Part of it might be recent absences of Jeff Teague and Nemanja Bjelica (both game time decisions tonight,) but realistically they have yet to show any consistency on that end of the floor.
With the way the middle of the West appears to be bunching up, every game is important. The Wolves are in their own building facing a team without its best player tonight. They also have a back-to-back on the road tomorrow night. They need to get one in the win column.
Our blogging buddies are over at Bullets Forever. Be excellent.
Enjoy the game. Chat here. Go Wolves.