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Game Preview #48: Knicks at Wolves

Tom Thibodeau returns to the place he once called home.

Karl-Anthony Towns Signs Contract Extension Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

Game Info

Who: New York Knicks (24-23) at Minnesota Timberwolves (11-36)
When: 7:00pm CST
TV: Fox Sports North (streaming on the Fox Sports Go app)
Radio: 830 WCCO AM Radio

What To Watch For

Tom Thibodeau, the former head coach and architect of the Minnesota Timberwolves prior to Gersson Rosas’ arrival back in 2019, returns to the city he once called home. After being relieved of his coaching/POBO duties in Minnesota earlier on in 2019, the ICE king himself took a year off from basketball before being hired as head coach of the New York Knicks last summer.

Since then, the early returns on the Thibs era in the Big Apple have been extremely promising, at least from a wins and losses standpoint (which, if we’re being honest, is what actually matters). At 24-23, the Knicks currently find themselves a half-game back of home court advantage in the first round of the upcoming playoffs, which is truly fascinating when you break down who is (and who isn’t) on their current roster.

A big part of the Knicks’ recent resurgence has been fueled by 26-year old Julius Randle, who is coming off his first All-Star appearance and is playing the best basketball of his life. In true Thibs fashion, Randle is also second in the league in minutes played, but the extra wear and tear hasn’t slowed down the former Kentucky Wildcat, who is averaging career highs in points per game (23.0), rebounds (10.8), assists (5.8), and 3P% (41.9%). Randle has also gotten plenty of assistance from a handful of familiar veteran faces, including Timberwolves alums Taj Gibson and Derrick Rose, both of whom should be active tonight against Minnesota (Rose is technically day-to-day with an ankle injury).

As for the hometown Timberwolves, they return to town after securing somewhat of a moral victory against the Brooklyn Nets, which was much-needed after their extremely deflating (and downright embarrassing) homestand from last week.

In terms of specific things to watch for tonight, this tweet from Timberwolves PR really stood out to me, especially the “longest active run in the NBA” part:

It’s no secret that Anthony Edwards’ defense has been less than ideal during his rookie campaign, and while tallying steals isn’t a meaningful barometer of being a good defender, it is a fairly interesting stat nonetheless.

Chris Finch has gone on the record multiple times over the last few weeks stressing the importance of ANT making his mark in more ways than just scoring the basketball, and while the results have been mixed so far, the one improvement that has stuck out to me has been Edwards rebounding numbers. ANT is averaging 5.8 rebounds per game in March, his highest monthly average of the season, and has grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds twice in the last six games. Again, grasping at straws here a bit no doubt, but seeing those incremental improvements become more of a consistent thing for ANT is a promising sign for the future.

Injury Reports

At the time of writing this (12:00pm PST), it looks like Josh Okogie is still QUESITONABLE due to his placement in the health & safety protocols. This is technically an upgrade for Okogie, who was listed as OUT for the game against the Nets on Monday night.

As for Russell, he is still rehabbing from his left knee surgery; however, he has been participating in 5-on-5 team activities, according to my sources (the team’s Twitter account):

As mentioned previously, the Knicks may or may not be without Derrick Rose tonight, who continues to battle ankle soreness:

Outside of that, the only other member of the Knicks injury report is Mitchell Robinson, who recently underwent surgery to repair a fractured fifth metatarsal in his right foot.

We’ve got our very own Clyde Frazier on the call tonight, so be on the lookout for a fun and entertaining game recap regardless of what takes place at Target Center against the Knicks.