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Game Preview #1: Rockets at Wolves

The 2021-22 regular season is officially underway.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Houston Rockets Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Game Info

Who: Houston Rockets (0-0) at Minnesota Timberwolves (0-0)
When: 7:00pm CST
TV: Bally Sports North
Radio: 830 WCCO AM Radio
Line: Minnesota -5.5


What To Watch For

It’s been 157 days since they last played a real basketball game, but after yet another offseason of turnover, dysfunction, and now growing optimism, the Minnesota Timberwolves are officially back in our lives once again.

At this point, enough has been written about the lack of sexy offseason transactions, the shocking dismissal of Gersson Rosas, and the hope (and simultaneous pessimism) that comes with new ownership. All of those topics are now a thing of the past, and the only real thing to focus on now (at least for me personally) is simply the on-court product of playing professional basketball.

While this past offseason was yet again very Wolves-y in terms of chaos and dysfunction, these last few weeks (specifically the preseason) have been by all accounts pretty... normal? Don’t get me wrong, Minnesota enters the 2021-22 season with a laundry list of questions — Can they rebound? Can they defend? Will the high-priced duo of Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell pay off? Can the kids from the 2020 NBA Draft take a sophomore leap? Is Chris Finch really bringing sexy back?

But when you look around the league right now (especially the Western Conference), it’s kind of shocking to see how normal and downright calm the Wolves’ current situation appears to be compared to a plethora of other NBA teams. Yes, Minnesota is really young, but that’s probably better than being really old like the Los Angeles Lakers, no? Maybe KAT will indeed want out of Minnesota one day, but at least the Wolves aren’t dealing with a Zion Williamson type situation. Speaking of frustrated NBA centers, why didn’t Phoenix pay the guy they drafted over Luka Doncic? And what about the teams already dealing with serious injuries to star players (i.e. Pelicans, Nuggets, Clippers, etc.)?

My point here is this — every new season comes with good vibes and lofty optimism, but when you really boil down the current landscape of the Western Conference, the road to postseason play hasn’t been this wide open in many years. The Wolves aren’t perfect by any means, and the stink of underperformance and disappointment is real with this franchise, but the team is healthy, clear of distractions, and there is enough riding on this season (both financially and reputation wise) for these players that it’s basically time to put up or shut up.

In other words, if not NOW, then WHEN?

Injury Reports

As mentioned previously, the Timberwolves enter the 2021-22 season relatively healthy; however, they do have a few players banged up that could affect the rotation tonight against Houston. Patrick Beverley will serve his one-game suspension that he received after an incident with Chris Paul in the 2021 playoffs, and both Jordan McLaughlin and Jaylen Nowell remain QUESTIONABLE due to various injuries. If neither of those guys can suit up, the Wolves will be very short-handed in the backcourt, which could lead to an influx in minutes for D’Angelo Russell and/or more opportunities for Anthony Edwards to run point.

On the other side of the court, the Houston Rockets enter their first game of the 2021-22 regular season relatively healthy as well, with only John Wall, Daniel House, and Garrison Matthews listed on the team’s injury report. Wall isn’t expected to play again for the Rockets as the team attempts to either find a willing trade partner for the former All-Star or the two sides can negotiate a buy-out.

As has been the case for many years now, Canis Hoopus will continue to be your one-stop-shop for all things Wolves-related this season. Despite the messy transition to Coral, Game Previews will still be a prime spot for community members and fans to comment on the game and interact with others who are cheering for (or against) Minnesota this year.

Take care, be well, and Go Wolves.