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Wolves vs Warriors: Hosting the Champs

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Minnesota hosts the Warriors one day after their loss in San Antonio

NBA: Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Wolves (32-38) vs Warriors (47-22)

7:00pm CST

FS North

After the day off for travel yesterday, Minnesota is back in action tonight as they host the defending champion Golden State Warriors. As weird as it may sound, there is actually a lot on the line tonight throughout the Western Conference, especially with this game tonight.

It’s no secret that the Warriors coast through the regular season, exerting maximum effort maybe 10-15 times per year when the opposition calls for it. This doesn’t make much of a difference for them, as they’ve more than proven that they can play their game and win anywhere in the playoffs.

The lack of effort from GSW does, however, have a ripple effect on the rest of the conference. Golden State has been in control of the top seed in the West for the majority of the year. It is fair to say that there isn’t a team in the West that wants to get matched up with them in the first round in what would become a short four game stay in the postseason.

Well, as the Dubs have rested, coasted, and been extra cautious with injuries, the gap between them and the second seeded Denver Nuggets has shrunk. In fact, after Denver’s win in Boston and GSW’s loss in San Antonio last night, the two teams are tied atop the West.

All of a sudden, nobody knows whether or not GSW will end up with the one or the two seed. With four teams within one game of each other in the 5-8 spots, that has huge implications.

Now, all of these games are even more important. The teams in the back half of the playoff picture would surely like to know where the Warriors are going to land before the last few days of the season.

That makes this game tonight important. It might not have a ton of value for the Timberwolves, or even the Warriors, but it certainly is important to the rest of the conference.

There’s a good chance that the Warriors will rest a few guys on the tail end of the back-to-back, so that could open the door for a nice showing from our Timberwolves. In particular, Karl-Anthony Towns should have a field day.

In theory, Towns should feast on this matchup. The Warriors started Andrew Bogut whom they just brought back from Australia. Bogut is always going to be a solid interior defender, but Towns should run circles around him on the perimeter. Beyond that, Towns being too big for Draymond Green is one of my favorite things ever.

If the Warriors were to slow KAT down tonight, it’d likely be with a heavy dose of Kevon Looney. Looney is big and athletic, and has shown flashes of an elite defensive ceiling. One of the (many) reasons to not buy into the Rockets being a legitimate contender against Golden State is the fact that Looney has been so good at defending Harden on switches. He’s that versatile. The UCLA product is a fun, under-the-radar player to watch.

As for the other Timberwolves, the more things change the more they stay the same. It sounds like RoCo and Deng are likely shut down for the season (we already knew this), but now it sounds like the same could be true for Jeff Teague and/or Derrick Rose.

The good news? This should mean a lot more Tyus. If Tyus wants to prove that he deserves to be a starting point guard, he needs to use this time to show that he can consistently make shots. I love him as much as the next guy, but nobody is going to pay starting point guard money for a guy shooting 40/30/80 for the year and 41/33/80 for his career. That just doesn’t get it done.

The bad news? This also means that Jerryd Bayless is going to be running the second unit. He had a nice initial stretch, but Bayless has regressed back to being very, very bad. His minutes are not fun to watch.

Final Injury Reports:

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.

Well, the Wolves didn’t score enough points on Sunday to get us over the 225 point total. I guess that’s what happens when you try to count on the Wolves to do much of anything on the road. Shame on me for that, and it dropped us to 7-10. As the season winds down, we’ll have to fight to get back above .500.

The pick: Timberwolves over 111.5 points (-120)

As bad as the Wolves are on the road, and as bad as they are defensively all the time, they are really good at scoring the ball at home. In the last 5 home games with Towns in the lineup, the Wolves have scored: 135, 131, 112, 121, and 120 points. Add the fact that the Warriors are likely going to be resting some guys as well as (likely) playing without much effort, and I like the Wolves chances to post a big number on the scoreboard.

Projected Lineups

Wolves

Tyus Jones

Josh Okogie

Andrew Wiggins

Dario Saric

Karl-Anthony Towns

Warriors

Steph Curry

Klay Thompson

Kevin Durant

Draymond Green

Andrew Bogut