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Game Preview #9: Wolves vs Spurs

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Home sweet home. Sweet enough to break the 6-game losing streak though?

Denver Nuggets v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images

Is Karl-Anthony Towns actually closer to a return than we originally thought? Or is this just the front office simply tossing an angry fanbase a bone to keep them quiet? It could be both. However one thing is for sure: The Minnesota Timberwolves desperately need their best player back. Currently in a 6-game losing streak with no visual improvement from game to game, the Wolves now draw the ever-difficult San Antonio Spurs who are fresh off beating both the Clippers and Lakers in Los Angeles.

Gulp.


Game Info

Who: San Antonio Spurs (4-4) at Minnesota Timberwolves (2-6)
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

  • If I were a betting man, I’d go all-in on Towns not being available today. It does seem like he’s making progress on that wrist injury, but I would think he doesn’t go from being week-to-week to suddenly suiting up. With that said, will the Wolves continue to bang their head against the wall and keep starting Ed Davis at center? It’s probably likely due to his rapport with D’Angelo Russell (insert snarky comment about over-catering to him), but you’d imagine someone else with more promise and energy will need to get the majority of the playing time. The Spurs will be rolling out the steadily creakier LaMarcus Aldridge, who plays more of a finesse game which (in theory) should be a relief to the Wolves bigs, and he’s still a threat to drop 30 any given game though.
  • DeMar Derozan, the team’s leading scorer (19.1), is bound to have a big night. I would expect the 31-year-old guard to punish the Wolves guards all night, in similar fashion as Bradley Beal did to kick-off 2021 (31 points in 3 quarters). Something to keep an eye on is his 3-point shooting. Yep. He’s a career 28.5% three-point shooter on 1.5 attempts, but this season he’s knocking them down at a 42.9% (!) clip on 2.6 attempts. Will Culver/Beasley chase over or go under ball screens?
  • The Spurs are operating in more of a “death by a million papercuts” mode in many facets. 7 players average at least 10 points per game (Wolves have 4 sans Towns) and 6 players that average at least 4.8 rebounds (Wolves have 4). Although they have some veteran all-stars, they are in a youth movement led by budding point guard Dejounte Murray (Averaging 16.1/6.8/5.3). I’m excited to see 2nd year swingman Keldon Johnson (Averaging 13.9 and a team high 7.3 rebounds!), 3rd year guard Lonnie Walker IV (Strongly encourage you to read this story about his hair), and rookie Devin Vassell (53.3% 3P%) tonight.
  • Both teams are top 10 in pace, but in the bottom half in offensive rating. However the Spurs averaged 117 points against the staunch Lakers and Clippers (kinda) defenses. The Wolves are dead last in defensive rating, both statistically and visually. I fully expect the Wolves defense to fold once again, but as expected going into this season, will they have enough firepower to keep pace with San Antonio?

Injury Report


Predictions

  • Wolves get out to a strong start, building a 15-point lead before letting it completely crumble by halftime. The second half goes back and forth with little to no defense being played. Except for Dejounte Murray, who completely locks up D’Angelo Russell.
  • Malik Beasley finally breaks out of his shooting slump, hitting 5 triples and 5 piercing glares at the Spurs bench. He’ll also play admirable defense on DeRozan while Culver sits with foul trouble, holding him to just 24 points on inefficient shooting splits.
  • Anthony Edwards picks up the slack for Russell’s slow night, breaking the 25-point marker once again. Without much of a rim protector, he’ll eat for free in the paint.
  • Ricky Rubio decimates the Spurs bench line-up with his defense. Sorry Patty Mills. He also hits a triple behind-the-back dribble move on Jakob Poeltl.
  • The MPE goes to.......... Lonnie Walker IV! He’s going to drop 25 points including a vicious dunk over Ed Davis, Naz Reid, and/or Jarred Vanderbilt at one point tonight. I will clap loudly for him.
  • LaMarcus Aldridge has a throwback performance and gets his, easily notching a 35 points on just 17 shots. It takes the Wolves until the 4th quarter to finally unleash the Vandolorian on him, forcing a few missed shots and turnovers out of him in the final few important minutes of the game.
  • I had the Wolves at 2-6 going into this homestand, splitting the double matchups against the Spurs and Grizzlies. In typical Wolves fashion, we’ll somehow squeak out a win tonight without KAT, then get him back tomorrow and lose.

UPDATE

I am broke now. Why do we even do previews??