Wolves at Clippers
2:30 pm CST
Four days after their home debacle against the Kings extended their current losing streak to ten games, the Wolves are back at it this afternoon, this time on the road against the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Clips are a formidable opponent against whom to try to get back on track, but may be without Kawhi Leonard, who is dealing with a back issue and missed their loss to the Kings on Thursday. Even without Leonard, however, they feature plenty of talent, with Paul George headlining and having another excellent season.
Among the Clippers biggest strengths is offensive rebounding, where they are third in the league, so controlling the defensive glass, a problem for the Wolves all season, will be a key to this one, as well as keeping the Clippers off the free throw line, where they thrive.
In the only previous meeting between them this season, the Clips beat the Wolves at Target Center 124-117. Both Andrew Wiggins (34) and Karl-Anthony Towns (39) had big nights, but other than Towns, nobody could make a three for the Wolves. Meanwhile, as good as those two were, Leonard and George were even better, with both going for more than 40. The Wolves had absolutely no chance of stopping that duo, and I fear a similar result if Leonard is back in the lineup.
The Wolves really do not have the wherewithal to guard two big wing talents; The best they can hope for is to encourage jump shots and hope they miss. Keeping Leonard out of the paint is essential—he shot 19 free throws in the December meeting (and made all of them.) In truth it was a bit of a foul fest both ways, with the teams combining for 76 FTAs. The Wolves cannot afford to put the Clippers on the line like that again.
The Wolves have had several days to practice, and to work some things out of their system. We’ll see if it helps. They desperately need to tighten up their defense and exhibit better focus over 48 minutes than we’ve seen in recent games, Several poor starts gave way to an absolutely horrific finish on Monday night, and the Wolves simply lack the talent to be able to withstand extended periods of unthinking basketball. Hopefully the effort and energy are there today from the beginning.
A loss today would give them their second 11 game losing streak of the season. Ugh. That does not sound good.
Enjoy the game.