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Game 27, Wolves at Warriors: Trying to Keep Pace

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Minnesota enters Oracle in hopes of keeping pace in the West

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Wolves (13-13) at Warriors (18-9)

9:30pm CST

FS North

With the way that the Wolves dug themselves out of their early season hole, every game becomes that much more important from here on out. In a tightly packed Western Conference, each and every game could be the deciding factor in playoff positioning.

This, coupled with the reputation and strength of the opponent, makes tonights visit to the Bay Area a big one.

We could spend hours talking about the Warriors superstars, but I think we all kind of already understand just how great those guys are. Let’s look at a few other things for tonight.

For the Wolves, the key is going to come down to the defensive end of the floor. There’s a lot of discussion about what they best way to beat the Warriors is, but the Wolves reality is they aren’t high powered enough offensively to outscore Golden State. For them to have a shot tonight, it’ll come down to whether or not they can limit the Warriors enough offensively to keep it close throughout the end.

I’d imagine Covington will spend much of his night following Durant around, but it’d be nice to see the Wolves fully commit to switching everything to try to stagnate the Warriors in a similar way that Houston did last year. I’m not certain that the Wolves have the defensive personnel to make this strategy as successful as Houston was, but I’m also pretty positive that letting the Warriors drill you around screens and slips is not a winning formula.

Of course, the hard part with the Warriors is that they’ve got so many guys that can go nuclear on any given night.

The one area that the Wolves may have an advantage is inside with KAT. Over the years, KAT has been able to use his size to bully Draymond in the paint. With Draymond returning to action tonight, I’d like to see the Wolves pound it in to KAT as much as they can.

The important thing with this will be how the other Wolves cut and move off of these Towns post ups, and how well KAT passes out of the double teams he will likely see.

Here’s a few other things to watch for:

  • RoCo’s minutes: Covington has been averaging around 36mpg since his arrival, and now is on the injury report (probable) with a sore knee. While these games are all important, we need RoCo for the long haul here. Since I’m sure Thibs reads all of these previews to develop his game plans, how about giving a few of those minutes to Okogie to keep RoCo fresh and healthy, Thibs? Sound like a plan?
  • Backcourt (in)consistency: Which versions of Derrick Rose and Jeff Teague will show up tonight? Teague’s inconsistency has been a season long issue, while Rose’s inconsistency is a more recent development this year. I’m very worried about the prospects of one of these two having to potentially guard Klay Thompson for any extended period of time.
  • Lineup Flexibility: The past few games, we’ve really seen Dario Saric start to come alive as a super-sub for this team. It would be nice to see Thibs reward him with more minutes, specifically down the stretch of games. His shooting and offensive creativity could surely help the Wolves tonight against a stout defensive opponent.

Projected Lineups

Wolves

Jeff Teague

Andrew Wiggins

Robert Covington

Taj Gibson

Karl-Anthony Towns

Warriors

Steph Curry

Klay Thompson

Kevin Durant

Draymon Green

Kevon Looney