Wolves at Warriors
The Wolves bring their five game winning streak on the road tonight, facing off against defending champions and this year’s favorites the Golden State Warriors in Oakland. This is obviously a huge test for the Wolves, as the Warriors, who stumbled a bit to start the year, have righted the ship and are 8-3, tops with Houston in the West.
At this point, we know the Warriors. They are insanely great offensively, with an offensive rating six points clear of the next best in the league. They’ve made the most threes in the league with the highest percentage, a crazy 41 percent as a team. The gravity they exert on the perimeter opens things up inside, and they are also shooting 58 percent on two point attempts. Nobody has figured out how to stop them, and it seems unlikely that the Wolves will be the team to do so. Basically, you just hope they have an off shooting night.
They lost a couple early due to their defense, which still sits 18th in the league, mostly because they haven’t yet kicked it into high gear. After finishing second in defense last season, there is no reason to believe they lack the capability this year. If they have a weakness, it’s defensive rebounding, which the Wolves will need to take advantage of with their usual strong work on the offensive glass. The problem is if you over commit to the boards, all of a sudden transition threes are raining down on you.
It will be interesting to see the match ups to start the game. My guess is Thibs plays it straight, with Taj Gibson on Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins on Kevin Durant, and Jimmy Butler on Klay Thompson. I wonder if Steve Kerr will try to cross-match and put Green on Karl-Anthony Towns. At any rate, the Warriors don’t stay big, with starting center Zaza Pachulia only averaging 14 minutes per game, and their other “true” center, Javale McGee at under nine. How the Wolves deal with various Warriors lineups will be interesting. This might not be a game where we see a lot of Gorgui Dieng.
It would be terrific to see a competitive effort tonight, though of course we cannot expect a win on the Warriors’ home court. In truth, the key will be the other two games of this road trip, in Phoenix and Utah. I’m going in to tonight with zero expectations other than an entertaining show. Frankly, even if it is entertaining, I’m not expecting myself to stay awake for the whole thing. West coast games kill me.
Question of the Day
It sounds like the Lakers and Luol Deng are going to part ways one way or another. If the Lakers wind up buying him out, how interested are you in the Wolves picking him up? They have an open roster spot, a desperate need for a big wing, and of course the relationship with Thibs. On the other hand, he was terrible last season, and has made all of one appearance this year.
I might take a shot, why not? It would be on a veterans minimum. Despite his awful shooting last season, RPM still saw him as playable (29th in RPM among small forwards, positive on defense.) He was excellent the year before in Miami. Of course he could be washed, but the need is great.
What say you?
Around the League
The Bucks traded for Eric Bledsoe yesterday, sending Greg Monroe and a protected draft pick to the Suns. They are going for it, which is nice to see (though they lost to the Cavs last night.) A dynamic point guard was definitely a need for them, and we’ll see if Bledsoe is healthy and sharp and can fill that bill. Monroe’s contract expires at the end of the year, and it seems unlikely he’ll spend the season with the Suns. They wanted the cap space and the pick, so good result for them.
Meanwhile, a good slate in the league last night. Couple things I noticed:
- The Thunder dropped to 4-6 after losing to the woeful Kings, despite starting the game out with a 25-10 lead after one quarter. Presumably they will figure it out, but it has not been a good start for OKC.
- The West, man. Every night someone is taking a painful loss. Memphis won 98-97 in Portland last night, dropping the Blazers to 6-5, while the Grizzlies improve to 7-4. The Spurs beat the Clippers at home to drop the Clips to 5-5 after a 4-0 start. Just a bloodbath every night.
- The Jazz have cooled considerably, and lost to an Embiid-less Sixers squad. Their offense really struggles. The Mavs, Pels, and Nuggets all won against Eastern Conference opponents.
- Speaking of the East, are the Knicks actually sort of good? They beat the Hornets last night, and have won six of seven after losing their first three of the season. Kristaps Porzingis is playing lights out. They probably aren’t this good, but a nice run at the moment.
What ya got?