What To Watch For
Well, for starters, how about a winning streak? Since claiming victory in their first two games of the season, the Timberwolves have failed to string together back-to-back wins since the day after Christmas.
After a surprising (albeit somewhat-deserved) victory against the
Toronto Tampa Bay Raptors, the Wolves return to Minnesota for a series of games on their home floor, starting tonight with a game against the Los Angeles Lakers, followed by contests against the Indiana Pacers (Wednesday) and Raptors (Friday).
Considering the fact that the last time these two franchises squared off resulted in the biggest blowout of the season for Minnesota (the Wolves lost 127-91 at Staples Center), it’s fair for many of you to simply DVR this one and find better ways to spend your Tuesday evening. However, this stat from our good friend Alan Horton is pretty mind-blowing and definitely required me to read it a half dozen times before including it in my preview:
Wolves have won 7 straight at home over the Lakers.— Alan Horton (@WolvesRadio) February 16, 2021
While the Lakers do enter tonight’s contest with the second best record in the league, they have shown a propensity to play down to the level of their competition (they recently played three straight overtime games against the Detroit Pistons and Oklahoma City Thunder). Add in the absence of Anthony Davis, who is currently sidelined with an injury related to his calf and/or Achilles tendon, and you have the makings of what should be a really exciting game (please disregard this if and when the Wolves lose again by 20+).
Minnesota @Timberwolves Status Report in advance of tomorrow's game vs. Los Angeles Lakers:— Timberwolves PR (@Twolves_PR) February 15, 2021
Culver - Left Ankle Sprain
Russell - Left Leg Soreness
Since this tweet was originally sent out on Monday, we’ve all received a little clarity as it pertains specifically to D’Angelo Russell:
ESPN Sources: Minnesota Timberwolves guard D’Angelo Russell will undergo arthroscopic surgery to remove a loose body in his left knee and is expected to miss four-to-six weeks.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 16, 2021
If we’re being honest here, this does not come as a surprise, at least not to me. By now, we all know the Timberwolves (like many other NBA franchises), have been doing a very poor job of sharing information pertaining to player injuries. It also should be noted that being weird about player injuries extends far back for this franchise, well before the Rosas Regime took over.
With that said, there was always a distinct possibility here that — conspiracy theories aside — D’Angelo Russell was truly injured. The latest news from Woj (and subsequently the team) confirms that fact, and the immediate reaction from myself is simply that I hope D-Lo can have a full recovery and can return to the court at 100%.
Regardless of where you stand on this topic, it does very little for the team, the injured player, the media, and the fan base to continue to be less than transparent about these things, especially when you consider the track record that this franchise (and other franchises like it) have with making important information available to the public. As I’ve written before, the unofficial slogan of “Trust the Prosas” simply cannot work if the “trust” part is removed from the equation, so I hope everyone involved here can learn from these types of situations and be more upfront going forward (shut-up Optimistic Kyle).
As for the Lakers, outside of the Anthony Davis situation (mentioned earlier), it looks like everyone else on their roster (including LeBron James) should be good to go tonight, which should make for a really fun and competitive matchup for Minnesota.