Wolves (21-23) vs Spurs (26-20)
7:00 pm CST
When the Minnesota Timberwolves arrive at Target Center to face the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night, only one thing will be on their mind: Redemption.
The Wolves need to redeem themselves after one of the most embarrassing losses in recent memory against Jimmy Butler and the Philadelphia 76ers. They will be desperate to show they can guard somebody after giving up a whopping 149 spot to the Sixers. However, it won’t be the only previous game they have in mind.
The players and fresh-faced coach Ryan Saunders will still have the last matchup against the Spurs lingering in their head. Just four days before Christmas, the Texans handed out a 26-point drubbing to the Wolves. Not a great present.
All around, there is plenty of pride at stake for Minnesota in this one.
Despite being just over halfway through the season, it will already be the fourth time the two teams have faced off, with Minnesota grabbing just one win so far. San Antonio have ebbed and flowed through the season thus far, but right now they are on a tear.
In their last 15 games, the Spurs rank 5th in offensive rating (114.5) and sixth in defensive rating (107.3). After Gregg Popovich’s initial adjustment period to life without Kawhi Leonard and with DeMar DeRozan, the hall of fame coach has figured out exactly how to use this squad — like he always seems to do.
Perhaps the craziest way this team operates is from behind the 3-point arc. Their two star players (DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge) have attempted the most mid-range shots league-wide, which leads to the Spurs attempting the least triples across all 30 teams. However, when they do put up long-range shots, they convert on a sizzling 40.3 percent, the highest clip in the league.
This spells bad news for the Timberwolves. They allow opponents to shoot the highest 3-point percentage in the league (37.4%) and give up the third most triples overall (12.3 per game). Put simply, the Wolves have an extremely hard guarding anyone outside the arc, and the Spurs are extremely efficient at making the shots they are given. In order for the Wolves to win this redemption match, that’s where their point of emphasis should start.
To make matters worse, Minnesota still be without the services of Robert Covington (knee) and Tyus Jones, who turned his ankle in the Philadelphia beat down. According to Jace Frederick of the Pioneer Press, Jones’ injury has a much better prognosis than first expected, but he will still be sorely missed in this one.
Even on their home court, the Timberwolves won’t start as favorites in this one. However, if they were to get a win with two straight games against the lowly Phoenix Suns (who did beat the Wolves in their first matchup), the Wolves could build up a nice bit of momentum heading into February.
Head over to our friends at the Pounding The Rock for your Spurs coverage.
Chat about the game below in the comment section. And as usual, Go Wolves!