The Wolves have had a rough stretch of recent games. On Friday an objectively bad Golden State Warriors team took them to overtime, followed by a solid Denver Nuggets team taking them to overtime yesterday. Those extra minutes will likely add up as the Wolves come into Detroit on the second leg of a back-to-back tonight.
On top of that, the Wolves have been a little banged up in the last week. Both Jeff Teague and Shabazz Napier have missed the last couple games, which has left the ball in the hands of some very inexperienced ball-handlers. The ability to facilitate and initiate an offense is one of those things that you don’t truly appreciate until it’s gone, but once it is gone it’s painfully conspicuous.
But the Pistons are a little banged up on their end as well. Reggie Jackson is out with a lower back injury, and both Tim Frazier and Derrick Rose are listed as day-to-day. Detroit, however, had the whole weekend off, so perhaps Derrick Rose might be feeling rested enough to face off against his former teammates.
Speaking of returning from injury, it sounds like Blake Griffin is ready to make his season debut tonight against the Wolves, making this his first game back since he sacrificed his body for a few extra losses against the Milwaukee Bucks in last year’s playoffs. Griffin more than changes the dynamic on the court for Detroit. He’s as versatile as power forwards get, and he’ll surely give Robert Covington a run for his money on defense.
Karl-Anthony Towns will also face a tough match-up tonight against Andre Drummond, who is off to a solid all-around start to the year. So far he’s averaging 21 points and 18 rebounds per game. Pair that with Griffin and potentially Rose, who was off to a decent start of his own before coming down with a hamstring injury, and Detroit suddenly has some firepower to be reckoned with.
If the Wolves shoot anything like they did last night against Denver (they shot 6-45 from three), they are in for a long, tiresome fight tonight. The Pistons are the surprising league leader in 3-point percentage so far this season thanks to Luke Kennard and Tony Snell both shooting above 40 percent on 6.6 and 5.4 attempts per game, respectively. Keeping those two in check is the Wolves’ key to taking this one. If Towns can win the battle against Drummond and Covington can at least slow down Griffin’s explosive game, this one will likely come down to how many threes Minnesota gives up against how many they’re able to convert on their own.
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