Spurs at Wolves
7:00 pm CST
The Wolves begin a three game home stand tonight when the San Antonio Spurs visit Target Center. It’s way too early to start talking about jockeying for playoff position, but with the Spurs sitting at 5-5, if the Wolves are serious about wanting to make the post-season this year, these are the kinds of games they have to win. Beating average teams at home is vital to any chance.
The Spurs have been relatively blah in most areas this season, but two things they have going for them are fantastic rebounding and good depth.
San Antonio comes into the game tops in the league in offensive rebounding percentage in second in defensive rebounding percentage. This is despite (or perhaps because of) being led in rebounds per game by their point guard Dejounte Murray (7.7). The boards will be a big key tonight, especially on the defensive end for the Wolves where they have been struggling a bit as expected given their commitment to going small.
The Spurs are also going ten deep and bringing quality players such as Derrick White, Patty Mills, and Rudy Gay off the bench. Much of their 10th ranked offense is because they don’t lose a ton of scoring punch when they go to the bench: Patty Mills has been by far their best three point shooter, White is scoring perhaps more effectively than the starter Murray, and Gay can still make things happen with the ball.
The Spurs are coming off two straight losses, the most recent a disappointing home loss to the Grizzlies, and will be looking to right the ship.
The Wolves would be helped if Jeff Teague returns, if only so that they don’t have to go quite so deep into their bench; We could do without more Jordan McLaughlin. Teague remains questionable with his illness. Even without either of their point guards, however, the Wolves have managed. Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins are of course headlining, but the Wolves as a team are struggling offensively, which has been masked by their fast pace. They are finally getting up the threes after years of lagging behind: They are third in the league in three point attempts. Unfortunately, they are 28th in percentage. Still, with the Spurs currently last in 3PA, the Wolves can hopefully take advantage beyond the arc.
Another thing to look for is turnovers. The Wolves are third in the league at turning opponents over (by turnover percentage) while the Spurs are 29th. The Wolves really need to win the turnover battle to establish control of the game. Neither team is particularly efficient at shooting it, so generating more possessions than the other team is vital for both squads tonight.
LATE NOTE: Jeff Teague is available but will not start. Expected to come off the bench.
Our blogging buddies are over at Pounding the Rock with the Sours news. Be excellent.