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Game Preview 41: Wolves at Pelicans

Can Minnesota get over .500 at the halfway mark?

Minnesota Timberwolves v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images

Game Info

Who: Minnesota Timberwolves (20-20) at New Orleans Pelicans (14-26)

When: 7:00pm CST

TV: Bally Sports North

Radio: 830 WCCO AM Radio

Line: Wolves -3.5

What To Watch For

Coming in as winners of four in row, Minnesota looks to extend their winning streak to five games tonight in New Orleans. Rumor has it Anthony Edwards is hopping in the booth with Lil’ Wayne at halftime, so keep your eye out for that track.

In all seriousness, while New Orleans record is poor, they are not to be taken lightly, as the Wolves themselves should know all too well from their October 25th matchup at Target Center, which NOLA won 107-98. Aside from that, after starting the season horrifically, the Pelicans have been pretty solid of late. New Orleans is 7-8 over their last 15, and that ~.500ish rate is probably more in line with their talent level than the brutal start to the year, even without Zion Williamson.

The recipe for Minnesota is the same as it has been in the first three matchups. They need to keep Karl-Anthony Towns out of foul trouble with Jonas Valanciunas, and they need Towns to obliterate JV on offense if that is once again how Willie Green lines the team up. After the last matchup, where KAT kept his cool and put up 28/10, I would guess Green might try to deploy Herb Jones on Towns, with Valanciunas roaming off of Jarred Vanderbilt.

Jones is a phenomenal defender, especially for a rookie, but Towns should be able to take advantage of that in the post, and I would expect Vanderbilt’s quickness and athleticism to be an issue for JV.

It’s no guarantee that that’s how New Orleans will line up, but it’s my best guess. If they do go that way, that could be a nice opportunity for Minnesota to once again lean into D’Angelo Russell pick-and-rolls with Vanderbilt. The two showed nice chemistry running that action on Sunday night, and it would be wise for Russell to attack Valanciunas in a drop coverage.

That’s probably the schematic counter to moving JV off of KAT, and it’s one that the Wolves should be able to exploit so long as Vanderbilt’s hands don’t fail him.

Injury Report

Bolmaro remains out in health and safety protocols. Patrick Beverley is once again questionable with right groin soreness, but signs point to his return tonight. My hope would be that they are careful with his minutes. New Orleans isn’t a push-over, but it would be nice if Minnesota could play well tonight, build a lead, and get Beverley some extra rest before he’s more needed on Thursday in Memphis and Sunday vs Golden State.

As far as picking the game goes, Timberwolves -3.5 feels really low to me, which has me in my own head about it. Am I missing something? I don’t really get the line, and it feels a little bit like a trap as the team is on a longer road trip, but I’ll walk right into that trap tonight. Give me Wolves -3.5 and KAT over 3.5 assists.