Portland Trailblazers (16-22) at Minnesota Timberwolves (14-22)
7:00 pm CST
Fox Sports North
The Minnesota Timberwolves are back in action tonight, this time hosting their Northwest Division foe in the Portland Trailblazers. Both teams will yet again be without their franchise big men — as both Jusuf Nurkic and Karl-Anthony Towns will miss the game due to their respective injuries. Nurkic is still recovering from a broken leg he sustained towards the end of the 2018-2019 season, while Towns continues to battle a knee injury that has kept him out since December 13th.
With Plan A sidelined the last couple of weeks, the Wolves have been forced to turn to Plan G, as in their backup center Gorgui Dieng. Since replacing Towns in the starting lineup, the Wolves defense has become a top 5 unit in the NBA, and while the offense has taken an understandable dip without Towns in the rotation, the improvements on defense show just what this team can do when all of the pieces are clicking.
Speaking of defense, the uber-talented Britt Robson had a terrific piece on The Athletic earlier today, which discussed the Wolves improvement on that side of the ball and just how much of an impact David Vanterpool (who came to Minnesota from Portland) has had thus far on this young roster. It’ll be fascinating to see how the defense looks when Towns finally does return, and if Vanterpool and the staff can get through to him like they’ve gotten through to others on the team.
Projected Starting Lineups
PG: Shabazz Napier
SG: Jarrett Culver
SF: Andrew Wiggins
PF: Robert Covington
C: Gorgui Dieng
PG: Damian Lillard
SG: CJ McCollum
SF: Kent Bazemore
PF: Carmelo Anthony
C: Hassan Whiteside
As for the Wolves injury report:
Updated Timberwolves Status Report 1/9 vs. Portland:— Timberwolves PR (@Twolves_PR) January 9, 2020
Karl-Anthony Towns (Left Knee Sprain)
Jake Layman (Left Toe Sprain)
Kelan Martin will be inactive tonight as he is currently with the Iowa Wolves.