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Game Preview #19: Wolves at Hornets

The 2020 #1 pick, Anthony Edwards, takes on #2 pick, LaMelo Ball, in their 1st game as sophomores.

Charlotte Hornets v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Watch out world. Our very own Minnesota Timberwolves have officially arrived to the 2021-2022 NBA season! The Wolves are riding high on a 5-game win streak after sending Jimmy Buckets Full of Tears home on Wednesday. Of course, with all good news comes bad news. So let’s start with the former:

*In a tearfully proud voice* We made it. A threatening starting lineup that is so balanced that even Thanos would be proud. Is this the Wolves iteration of a death lineup? The answer would be yes, for now. On to the bad news:

*In a tearfully sorrowful voice* Oh, come on! Why can’t the Wolves have nice things? Well, let’s take a look at what’s to come on this Black Friday.


Game Info

Who: Minnesota Timberwolves (9-9; 8th) at Charlotte Hornets (12-8; 5th)
When: 6:00 pm CST
TV: Bally Sports North
Radio: 830 WCCO AM Radio


Injury Report


What To Watch For

  • The Hornets have won 7 of their last 8 games, although all have come in 10 points or less. However, of those 7 games, one of those included a 4th quarter comeback against the top NBA team, the Golden State Warriors. Many of their wins came on the back of impressive ball movement (4th in the NBA in AST/G and 3rd in AST/TO) while playing with sizzling pace (3rd). It will be a true test for the Wolves defensive philosophy of “flying around with purpose.” Oh, they’ll really need to be flying around today, especially without Pat Bev in the lineup.
  • Meanwhile, the Wolves have really been clicking lately. It seems like they’re just starting to mature as a team who’s used to having to rely on hot shooting nights to get them to a win, to a team that can now genuinely “win ugly.” The game against the Heat was a great example, as the Wolves best offensive player, KAT, was mired in foul trouble and scored just 11 points on 4 of 12 shooting, yet his team was still able to muster up a quality win (KAT gets a Mason Plumlee-less Hornets squad today). It was Malik Beasley who stepped up in KAT’s offensive absence, dropping a season-high 29 points two days ago. Who will be stepping up today?
  • This will be the first of a road-road back to back, with a game in Philadelphia tomorrow against a likely-to-return Joel Embiid. If the game starts slipping away in the second half, I’ll be curious to see if Finch is willing to pull the plug early.

Predictions

  • Today will be the Naz Reid game. As I alluded to earlier, KAT should be able to feast against any matchup in his way. This should also apply to Naz Reid, who’ll likely get to beat up on Nick Richards or whatever corpse they toss out there. Naz drops 20-10 today.
  • The referee crew will realize the travesty that occurred on Wednesday and make right by it today. After being robbed of the dunk of the year, Ant will get a friendly whistle tonight and shoot a career-high 16 free throws.
  • Wolves continue riding the wave and win big, early. Starters rest for the 4th quarter. LaMelo Ball is a poor man’s Ricky Rubio. Minnesota wins, 110-97.