Wolves (27-30) at Knicks (11-47)
First things first, welcome back. The beginning of the All-Star break is kind of fun because we have the All-Star festivities to look forward to. Monday through Thursday were awful though. Without any NBA games, most were looking forward to the Duke-North Carolina college game to watch some great basketball. As we all know, Zion Williamson blew out his shoe and injured his knee in the first minute of the game, robbing many of the joy they expected from the matchup.
We are finally back in action tonight in Wolvesdom, with the team squaring off with the tanking Knicks in Madison Square Garden.
In typical Wolves fashion, things just cannot go well for an extended period of time. We’re finally getting Tyus Jones back tonight, but now it sounds as though Karl-Anthony Towns’ will miss tonight’s game after a car accident.
Coach Saunders told the media this morning that Karl-Anthony Towns was involved in a car accident yesterday on the way to the airport. He flew into New York last night and was excused from shootaround this morning to rest at the hotel. He is listed as questionable for tonight.— Timberwolves PR (@Twolves_PR) February 22, 2019
Thankfully, it seems like the injuries suffered are relatively minor. No more driving for KAT.
No more cars for Karl. It's time to get a helicopter like Kobe.— John Meyer (@thedailywolf) February 22, 2019
This brings an end to one of the most impressive streaks in the entire NBA. Up until tonight, Towns had played in all 303 games in his career. Hopefully, KAT’s absence is a short one and he can get back out with the team sooner rather than later.
Even without KAT, the Wolves should get a win tonight. There are a few obvious tankers in the NBA, but maybe none more so than these Knicks. They’ve lost 18 of their last 19 games.
They famously traded Kristaps Porzingis along with Courtney Lee and Tim Hardaway Jr. in exchange for Dennis Smith Jr., Wesley Matthews, and DeAndre Jordan. They waived Matthews, so DSJ and Jordan are what remains in their Kristaps trade package.
DSJ is an electrifying, yet unseasoned, player who will definitely challenge the Minnesota guards athletically tonight. It’ll be important for the Wolves to keep Smith out of the lane in order to play the type of defense that they should.
A fun player to watch for tonight for New York is Alonzo Trier. Trier went undrafted out of Arizona, but has played the role of bench scorer pretty well for the Knicks this season. I’m looking forward to watching him play.
In all reality, though, this game is all about the Wolves. They say they want to make a run at the playoffs. While I find it unlikely, especially given the ferocity with which LeBron and the Lakers came back to beat Houston last night, if they truly want to make the playoffs these are the games they absolutely have to win.
That might seem like it goes without saying, but we all know how this team has performed against these terrible teams. They come out sleep walking and play down to the level of their competition.
Especially witout KAT, Minnesota needs to set the tone early. It’ll be interesting to see how Andrew Wiggins performs, as he is generally one of the main culprits of the sleep walking against bad teams. There is not a single guy on the Knicks’ roster that should be able to stay in front of Wiggs, Teague, Rose, etc.
Let’s also look for the continued involvement of Dario Saric. He became a staple of the offense before the All-Star break, and it would benefit the Wolves to continue that. With Towns unable to play, Dario is who they should be running their half-court offense through.
Lastly, the minutes distribution on the wing will be interesting to watch. In general, Luol Deng has been better than Andrew Wiggins this year. That’s a horrifying reality, but that is our reality. Deng probably deserves more minutes than he will get, especially if this team really is in “win-now” mode.
It’ll probably be ugly, but Minnesota needs to start this “second-half” off right.
Bet of the night
I’m in no way saying that you SHOULD make these bets. I’m not betting them. It’s just a fun extra thing that I’ll be tracking for the remainder of the season. All lines via Bovada.
It’s been a while! Way back on the Wednesday before the All-Star break, we improved to 4-5 on the year when Karl-Anthony Towns notched his 24th and 25th points with about one minute remaining against Houston. We’ve scratched and clawed our way back into a more respectable area with our win-loss total, and we’ll try to improve it once again tonight.
The pick: Timberwolves moneyline (-165)
So, this is a pretty boring pick but there are a few reasons for that. First off, I’m not at all confident in the Wolves covering 3.5 points, especially without KAT. That’s kind of sad, but they’re on the road and the Wolves are notoriously bad against these teams (see: Phoenix, Atlanta). The point total is at 222, and while that might be a little high I never really know what to expect from the Wolves or a tanking team in terms of pace and/or shooting. Lastly, there are only player props currently listed for Knicks players. For those reasons, we’re just taking the Timberwolves to win outright. Hopefully we’ll be all squared up at .500 on the year after this one.
Dennis Smith, Jr.