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Wolves vs Warriors: This Again?

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Minnesota hosts the Dubs for a Friday night affair

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Golden State Warriors Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Wolves (33-41) vs Warriors (51-23)

7:00pm CST

FS North

Well, friends, here we go again. After a few glimmers of hope, this has become a lost season. Ryan Saunders is technically “auditioning” for the full-time head coaching gig, but I think we all know he’s getting the job anyways. Whether you like Saunders or not, that’s just the way it is. He’s getting the job.

So, without using this time for evaluation of a potential coach, what is there to watch for? Some nights it’s harder to tell than others, but tonight it’s pretty obvious.

The Warriors, albeit likely disengaged, are the gold standard. However, the joy has kind of been sapped from this team. At the peak of Warriors hysteria, they were fun and exciting because of how they played with joy. If they’re ever going to get knocked out with this current core, this feels like the year it could happen if personalities don’t align.

With that being said, they’re still the Warriors. I mean, seriously. That starting lineup is just ridiculous. Klay Thompson as a third option is just a stupid luxury for a team to have.

One thing I’ll be looking at is Kevin Durant and his field goal attempts. That sounds silly, but he’s been pretty passive recently. In four of the Warriors past 5 games, Durant has attempted 13 field goals or less. In two of those games, he attempted less than 10 shots. That’s kind of strange considering Durant has never averaged below 16.5 FGA in a season.

It’s probably nothing, and he’s probably just really checked out of the regular season given how little it matters to the Warriors. It could also show a willingness to defer to Steph Curry more often, though. Even given how dominant Durant is as a scorer, it’s hard to argue with more Steph Curry shots. Curry has attempted at least 10 threes in every game in the same time span as above, as well as an average of 20 FGA per night. That might be nothing, but it seems like something.

On the Timberwolves side of things, I just want to see effort defensively. There needs to be some change on that end of the floor. They stink defensively. If Saunders is the guy moving forward, there needs to be a defensive coordinator running the defense. Maybe they just have such bad habits from Thibs, but it seems like this is a bigger issue than that. They are, simply put, pathetic on that end of the floor.

Outside of that, it all comes down to KAT. He’s the reason we all still tune in every night. He’s the reason there’s hope for this franchise moving forward. It all revolves around Karl-Anthony freaking Towns. The things that man can do, at that size, make absolutely zero sense. It’s like watching a Jose Berrios curveball for 48 minutes each night. He’s just different.

So, all I want to see is KAT dominate and earn that All-NBA spot. For all the stupid, massive contracts the Wolves have given out over the years, this guy deserves one. And you know what? I think that KAT will get up for this game against the champs and put up a silly stat line. It’s been one entire game since a silly KAT line so I expect nothing less than something like 35-15-5 tonight. He’s coming.

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.

Somehow, I was able to pick a night that the Wolves would win on the road when they took down the Grizzlies. That victory brought us to 8-11 on the season. Time is winding down but we’re going to do whatever we can to even the scoreboard before seasons end.

The pick: Over 228 total points (-115)

I love this pick for a few reasons. For one, the Timberwolves can’t stop anyone defensively and the Warriors have just a few guys who can put the ball in the basket. For them, it’ll come down to how much they care tonight. With that, the Wolves should be able to score tonight. The Warriors are in full-on cruise control mode right now. These two factors together feels like a good hedge on a reasonable total number. Predicting point spreads with the Warriors is a silly game to play, but there could be some value in the over tonight.

Projected Lineups

Wolves

Tyus Jones

Josh Okogie

Andrew Wiggins

Dario Saric

Karl-Anthony Towns

Warriors

Steph Curry

Klay Thompson

Kevin Durant

Draymond Green

DeMarcus Cousins