Blazers (16-13) at Wolves (17-13)
7:00 PM CST
Fox Sports North
Let’s start this preview with some good news! Jimmy Butler was a full participant this morning at shootaround and Thibs says “we’ll see” on tonight but the feeling is that he will go.
He claims that he wasn’t having back spasms but that it was “locked up” in Saturday’s matchup against the Suns. Butler was definitely bothered by the tightness in that game, so it will be something to look for if he does play against Portland.
After losing five straight, the Blazers have stormed back with three wins in a row. They sit a half game back of the Wolves in the Western Conference, making this an important one to win.
The visiting team features one of the best back courts in the NBA in Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. It is very important the Wolves have a mostly healthy Butler to lock one of them down. If he can’t go, it will be extremely hard to contain one or both of those players with a combination of Jeff Teague, Tyus Jones and Andrew Wiggins.
Portland is the fourth best team in the league with regards to defensive rating, so it will be key for the Wolves to be disciplined on offense. They should look to move the ball, avoiding isolation sets, and take advantage of the size matchup on the wings.
Stretch fours have been killing the Wolves, and Al-Farouq Aminu is making threes at a 47.2% rate this season. KAT will most likely guard him as Taj Gibson will be on the more traditional big man in Jusuf Nurkic, so he will need to be aware of where Aminu is at all times.
I am still salty about the Suns loss on Saturday but if the Wolves can beat the team nipping at their heels in the West, it will be good medicine for that loss.
Prediction: Wolves 99, Blazers 96
Minnesota’s offense will be kept in check most of the game until KAT hits his first ever game-winning, buzzer-beating three pointer.