Minnesota Timberwolves (5-15) at San Antonio Spurs (11-10)
After splitting the back-to-back matchup against the Cavaliers, the Wolves face yet another opponent that will test the Wolves' ability to defend the point of attack. Coming into this season, it seemed that the Spurs would finally take a step back. After all, the Spurs finally missed the playoffs last year and the team was playing significantly better with DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge off the court. The aging superstars seemed on their way out, trade bait for championship contenders.
But yet, a quarter of the way into the season, and the Spurs are chugging along and are tied for the 9th seed in the Western Conference. The team is not striking fear into anyone’s hearts, but they are still winning games. Aldridge continues to flounder, but DeRozan is having an incredible season. The Spurs bench has continued its magic from last season, led by Patty Mills shooting a scorching hot 42% from beyond the arc.
However, Aldridge is likely to be out tonight, which gives Ed Davis a small break from facing the behemoths around the league. This does give the Wolves an opportunity to legitimately match-up against an opposing team without sacrificing too much due to playing Josh Okogie at the power forward position. Okogie can guard DeRozan, with D’Angelo Russell hiding on Keldon Johnson. The perpetual size mismatch will be less notable.
On the Wolves end, the big question of the evening will be if the backcourt can hit shots after a terrible showing against the Cavaliers. Russell and Malik Beasley combined for 3 of 15 from beyond the arc, which is going to sink the Wolves. The Spurs have the guard length and ability to bother the Wolves, but the lane should be wide open for the Wolves to attack.
The Wolves heavily pressured the Cavaliers by attacking the rim and were summarily rebounded throughout the last game, getting blocked 12 times. Jakob Poeltl and Rudy Gay are a less threatening frontcourt to attack and the Wolves should be able to get to the rim. The Wolves’ rookies, Anthony Edwards and Jaden McDaniels, have been driving aggressively and should be able to make hay in the paint tonight with Aldridge out.
The Wolves’ barometer has swung so low in the past month that all we are looking for is the Wolves to not be the worst team in the league. That status is a definite embarrassment, as the team has too talented and expensive of a roster to be at the bottom of the league. Against the Cavs, the Wolves at least looked like a bottom-10 team rather than providing the litmus for how bad a team can be. Hopefully, that is able to continue tonight.
Projected Starting Lineups
San Antonio Spurs