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Game Preview #5: Wolves vs Wizards

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Someone’s losing streak has gotta go to start 2021.

Minnesota Timberwolves v LA Clippers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

“We gotta learn. You can use a lot of excuses. We’re young blah, blah blah, blah... this and that. Once you step on the floor, you’re playing for an NBA team and it’s been ridiculously bad. There’s no other words. But I have to be better. We gotta rally together. We gotta do it together. Yeah, everybody’s pissed. We’re pissed off. But in a good way. I’m still confident in our group. We’ve got a lot of season left.”

That is an amalgamation of quotes from Ricky Rubio after the Minnesota Timberwolves went 0-2 in their Los Angeles stop, and from Bradley Beal after the Washington Wizards fell to 0-5 on Thursday night. Not great, huh?

The Wolves have returned home a respectable 2-2, but the ship is teetering. Well it’s a new year and a symbolic opportunity to turn a new page.


Game Info

Who: Washington Wizards (0-5) at Minnesota Timberwolves (2-2)
When: 7:00 pm CST
TV: Fox Sports North (streaming on the Fox Sports Go app)
Radio: 830 WCCO AM Radio


What To Watch For

  • Although it can be debatable which team will miss one of their all-stars more (Towns vs. Westbrook), it’s not as much of a discussion as to which second all-star, D’Angelo Russell and Bradley Beal, is the better player. Although Russell didn’t have the worst shooting performance in his last game (9/19), he was a team-worst -26 in 31 minutes. Meanwhile Beal was a +3 in a 3-point loss to the Bulls. Beal also has a current streak of 28 games of scoring at least 20 points. Both should carry a huge usage percentage as the game could very well be decided by who has a stronger showing.
  • The Wolves have been pounded inside (SMUT) without the presence of Towns. Meanwhile, the Wizards just recently united their starting frontcourt of Thomas Bryant and Rui Hachimura. Both players had impressive showings yesterday, as the former poured in 28 points on 10/11 shooting while the latter boasted a team-high +13 (!) in his first official game of the season after returning from an eye infection. However they will be missing their leading rebounder (Westbrook at 12.7 RPG). Who controls the rebounds, controls the match.
  • Which Anthony Edwards are we going to get tonight? It’s only 4 games into the season, but he’s largely been a spark plug when in the game, for better or worse. Will we get the aggressive slasher or will we get the settling jump shooter? Ant seems to be good at following directions from the coaching staff so hopefully they are in his ear asking him to cut the early shot clock jumpers out. Check out Jake Paynting’s great piece on this very topic!
  • Not long ago, Canis Hoopus decided that Jarrett Culver would overwhelmingly win the Most Improved Player of the Year award. Those were simpler times. In his first 2 games, Culver was making his bid for the 3-point contest while shooting 61.5% from the field. Well, hopefully (for us) he just had a big high school crush in LA who snuck into Staples Center to watch him play because in those 2 matches, his field goal percentage crashed down to 19%. Will he regain his confidence and finally ask Megan out on a first date tonight?
  • Davis Bertans, a career 41% three-point shooter, must have also developed a new crush on a girl named Megana (I translated it to the Latvian equivalent) who now lives in DC because Bertans is shooting just 26.1% from deep at home including 0/10 last night. Who knows? Maybe they’re the same girl who’s been traveling around, haunting the shot percentages of basketball players everywhere. Hopefully (for Bertans and Culver) she didn’t travel to Minnesota today.

Injury Reports

Predictions

  • Ricky Rubio and Anthony Edwards demolish the lesser versions of themselves, Raul Neto and Troy Brown Jr., off the bench. Malik Beasley does a cartwheel from the sidelines in celebration as Ant posterizes TBJ.
  • Thomas Bryant goes off for another 25+ point night as Naz Reid (and whatever corpse we play in the frontcourt) is unable to contain him. The majority of these points coming off putbacks from bricked Wizards jumpshots.
  • D’Angelo Russell and Bradley Beal’s duel ends in a stalemate. Both guards drop 20+ on inefficient shooting, both neither truly effecting the game’s outcome.
  • Before tip-off, Megan/Megana is forced to choose between Culver and Bertans. The 2 of them lineup along the baseline with Megan holding a single red rose. She speaks. “This was a tough decision. I think both of you are so special and so nice. I don’t want to hurt either of you, but I have to follow my heart and do what’s right. With this last rose, I choose... *miming LeBron James* this is very tough... to take my talents to the Christian man out of Lubbock.” The fake crowd goes wild.
  • Jarrett Culver drops a 30 point, 15 rebounds night, drilling a career-high 6 three-pointers. Wolves win 130-101.
  • Ricky Rubio shouts out Canis Hoopus in the post game presser, stating that he draws inspiration from the comments section.