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Game Preview: Wolves at Knicks

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Minnesota will meet-up with old friends in the Big Apple

New York Knicks v Orlando Magic Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images

Wolves (7-23) at Knicks (14-16)

6:00pm CST

FS North / WCCO Radio

Following yet another fourth quarter collapse, the Timberwolves get to try their luck against one of the surprising teams of the season, Tom Thibodeau’s New York Knicks. The Knicks find themselves just two games below .500, and are in 8th in the Eastern Conference. To give you an idea of how odd the East is this year, that record has the Knicks just 1.5 games out of hosting a first-round playoff series.

New York sports an even 0.0 net-rating, so it’s possible they’ve even performed a bit better than their record suggests. They are doing so largely on the backs of their 3rd-ranked defense, although I’m skeptical that they are truly that good of a defensive team. As many analysts smarter than me have noted, teams are shooting an abnormally low percentage on wide-open threes. As that regresses to the mean, the Knicks may settle in as more of a top-10 defense as opposed to a top-3 defense.

With that in mind, it would be nice to see the Wolves come out ready to play and win a game against a solid opponent, especially against Thibs.

For the Wolves to do so, it’s going to come down to hitting shots and containing dribble penetration. As we know from his tenure in Minneapolis, Thibs’ defense is vulnerable in the corners. It would be a great game to get Malik Beasley in the corner and feed him.

As far as containing dribble penetration, New York is so starved for shooting that there is no excuse for giving up open driving lanes to the rim. The only players in New York’s rotation that should bend a defense with their shooting gravity are Immanuel Quickley and Reggie Bullock. Sure, Julius Randle is shooting 40% this year, but I’d imagine most teams are still more comfortable with him living behind the three-point line than barreling to the rim.

Keeping the likes of Randle and R.J. Barrett out of the paint will be paramount, as both players like to get to the middle of the floor and create for themselves and others.

On the Wolves side of things, it would be nice to see them just execute for a full 48 minutes. They just do not do that, so that’s really all I want to see aside from the usual fun stuff from the kids.

I know that seems short, but truly, all I want to see is that this team and coaching staff is capable of executing for one full game.

Winner of the Day

I included a little bit of gambling fun in my previews during the 2018-19 season as a way to stay entertained during a lost season, and I’m bringing it back this year. Some nights it’ll be a simple spread or over/under pick, some nights it’ll be a fun player prop. Who really knows.

I believe our last pick was an ambitious prop + outcome parlay in one of the OKC games, which predictably went poorly.

As always, this is merely for fun, and is in no way a recommendation on what to gamble on, or to gamble at all. (If you have a gambling problem, call 1-800-GAMBLER).

The pick: Anthony Edwards over 16.5 points (-110) via Bovada

Edwards has been cold recently, but I don’t think it’s all that shocking that the rookie has struggled against the Raptors and Myles Turner’s Indiana Pacers. I expect Edwards to bounce back tonight in a big way. I think he’ll clear 17 points rather easily and efficiently. He’d better hope so, at least, or else the fun police will be back out in full force, I’m sure. The absence of Mitchell Robinson should make his evening a little bit easier.

Projected Lineups

Knicks

Elfrid Payton

R.J. Barrett

Reggie Bullock

Julius Randle

Nerlens Noel

Timberwolves

Ricky Rubio

Malik Beasley

Anthony Edwards

Jarred Vanderbilt

Karl-Anthony Towns