Clippers at Wolves
8:30 pm CST
The Wolves have a rare national television appearance tonight on ESPN as they take on the Los Angeles Clippers at Target Center. It will be a tough way to try to break their six game losing streak. The Clippers come in 19-7, second in the West behind only the Lakers. After a bit of an up and down start in the absence of Paul George early in the season, the Clips have reeled off 12 wins in their last 14 outings. This is the fifth game of a six game road trip that has seen them go 3-1, losing only in Milwaukee.
The Clippers are in the top 10 both offensively and defensively, and of course feature two of the best two-way wings in the league with Kawhi Leonard alongside Paul George. Those two do-everything players are leading a new look Clippers unit that took advantage of their opportunity last summer to acquire both of them.
They hold opponents to the third lowest EFG percentage in the league, so finding offense is going to be key for the Wolves. They will need to dominate their offensive glass and attack aggressively to get to the free throw line, areas where teams have had at least modest success this season against the Clippers.
On the flip side, they are going to have to work to keep the Clippers off the offensive glass, where they rank first in the league, and off the free throw line, where they are third in the league in attempts per game.
The best case scenario for the Wolves is to keep the Clips out of transition, and force them into a perimeter game, where hopefully they have a poor shooting night. Much easier said than done, as both Leonard and George are likely bigger and quicker than their match ups tonight, and keeping them out of the paint is going to be a big chore.
On the injury front, both Patrick Beverly and Lou Williams are out for the Clippers, which leaves them a bit thin in the back court and off the bench. Still, Leonard and George can initiate the offense, and they still have Montrezl Harrell, who beasts in the paint to the tune of 18 and 8 off the bench. Controlling his activity in the paint is going to be another major factor.
The Wolves are in desperate need of a win, and one against a top notch opponent would do a lot to restore confidence in a group that has lost the plot on both ends of the floor, but especially defensively. It’s hard to imagine it coming tonight, but stranger things have happened. The Clippers are on the fifth game of a long six game trip, and may be vulnerable. In addition to finding their defensive footing, the Wolves will need Karl-Anthony Towns to play like a super star tonight.
The Wolves have a lot of bodies to throw at the Clippers’ stars; Whether any of them can slow them down is the question.
Our blogging buddies are over at Clips Nation, Be excellent.