Cleveland Cavaliers (9-22) at Minnesota Timberwolves (11-19)
7:00 pm CST
Fox Sports North
After a full week spent on the West Coast, the Minnesota Timberwolves return home tonight, fresh off a “rousing” and “thrilling” double overtime victory against the Sacramento Kings on Thursday night.
OK, maybe “rousing” and “thrilling” are not the correct terms to describe whatever that was that took place in Sacramento just a few days ago. Nevertheless, the Wolves did indeed secure a much needed victory, ending an 11-game losing streak that has put a significant damper on this season, and yet hasn’t actually affected the Wolves playoff chances all that much.
How can that be you ask? Well, the Western Conference is once again a bloodbath, but this time in a different sense — as of Friday afternoon, only 6 teams in the West have a record ABOVE .500, which means that no matter how inept the season has been for a handful of franchises (Minnesota included), no team is truly out of the playoff picture just yet (not even the Golden State Warriors).
Back to the losing streak — the result this past Thursday against the Kings was the Wolves first win of December, which is a fun stat until you realize Thursday was December 26th. Regardless, the Wolves finally caught a break and secured the “W” just in time for a pair of home games against similarly struggling squads in the Cleveland Cavaliers and Brooklyn Nets. Considering how bad the Wolves have looked this month, neither game is remotely considered a “cake walk,” but even a split against these two Eastern Conference opponents should get a little positive swagger back in the locker room before Karl-Anthony Towns makes his (much needed) return to the starting lineup.
Couple quick hitters on the Cavs:
- This team is downright atrocious. If you were ranking all 30 NBA franchises by future potential, this Cavs franchise would be near (or at) the bottom. Moreover, the two “cornerstones” of the franchise — Collin Sexton and Darius Garland — have displayed very little chemistry together this season, and it seems like eventually the Cavs will have to decide to build around one while shopping the other.
- Speaking of shopping! Cleveland just recently kicked off #WojBombSZN by trading Jordan Clarkson to the Utah Jazz in exchange for Dante Exum and some 2nd round picks. It has long been rumored that the Cavs are looking to aggressively shop some of their veteran players as they hope to expedite their rebuild, so it’s only a matter of time until names like Tristan Thompson, Kevin Love, and maybe even Matthew Dellavedova are tossed around in trade rumors.
- Finally, the one Cav to monitor tonight for Wolves fans will be no other than Darius Garland, the rookie PG out of Vanderbilt that many Minnesota fans had their eye on this past June. While things have been downright brutal for Jarrett Culver, they haven’t been much rosier for Mr. Garland, who comes into tonight shooting 39% from the field and averaging only 3.0 assists and 2.5 turnovers in 29 minutes per game.
Projected Starting Lineups
PG: Shabazz Napier
SG: Treveon Graham
SF: Andrew Wiggins (questionable)
PF: Robert Covington
C: Gorgui Dieng
PG: Collin Sexton
SG: Darius Garland (questionable)
SF: Cedi Osman
PF: Larry Nance Jr.
C: Tristan Thompson
As for the Wolves injury report:
UPDATED Timberwolves Status Report in advance of Dec. 28 vs. Cleveland— Timberwolves PR (@Twolves_PR) December 28, 2019
Karl-Anthony Towns – Left Knee Sprain
Andrew Wiggins- Flu-like symptoms
Jake Layman – Left Toe Sprain