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Game Preview #48: Wolves at Warriors

Can Minnesota build on their comeback win in Portland?

Minnesota Timberwolves v Golden State Warriors Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

Game Info

Who: Minnesota Timberwolves (24-23) at Golden State Warriors (34-13)

When: 9:00pm CST

TV: Bally Sports North

Radio: 830 WCCO AM Radio

Line: Warriors -6

What To Watch For

Golden State comes into this matchup winners of three in a row, but truthfully, GSW has not been playing all that well of late. It turns out that not having Draymond Green is harmful to a basketball team, who knew! Seriously, though, while Golden State is the heavy favorite, and perhaps rightfully so, things haven’t been as easy for them as they were earlier in the season.

Over their last 15 games, Golden State is a much more human 8-7 with a +3.5 net-rating. While Green being out is a big part of this semi-slump for the championship contender, another ingredient to their struggles has been the shockingly poor shooting of Stephen Curry. Over those same past 15 games, Curry is shooting just 36.6% from the floor and 29.8% of his threes.

Of course, Curry being in a slump only means that there’s likely an absolute avalanche incoming. Steph is WAY too good to continue shooting like this, and at this point I’d just be hoping that Minnesota isn’t the team that he snaps out of this funk against. An avalanche is coming eventually.

On that note, Curry is obviously priority number one on the scouting report. With Patrick Beverley likely out again, my guess is that Jaden McDaniels will get that assignment to start. If McDaniels is able to stay out of foul trouble (a big if!), his length could theoretically bother Curry. Really, though, all you can do with Steph is make it as difficult for him as you can and let the chips fall where they may. Whether Steph has a big night mostly just depends on whether the shot is falling or not.

Aside from the obvious task of keeping track of Steph and Klay Thompson on the perimeter, Minnesota must be ready for Golden State’s split-actions for those two and Jordan Poole. They run these actions repeatedly where Kevon Looney will throw the ball into the post (usually to Draymond), and then Looney will set a quick screen to free their guards on the perimeter. If you can take away these easy looks, you can begin to bog down Golden State’s half-court offense.

On offense, this should be a monster night for Karl-Anthony Towns. I have a lot of respect for Looney, especially on defense and on the backboards, but he really does not have the foot speed to keep up with Towns. Chris Finch has shown a willingness to feed KAT the ball in a variety of ways, and tonight is a night where KAT needs to be in attack mode. Looney shouldn’t be able to contain him, and with Draymond and James Wiseman out, there aren’t really any other Bigs of note on Golden State’s roster. I’d like to see D’Angelo Russell make a point of finding KAT early and often.

Lastly, I just want to see Minnesota continue to build on the momentum they’ve developed. They’ve won four of their last five, and while they are relatively large underdogs tonight, I do believe they have a very real chance to win tonight barring a Steph explosion.

Injury Reports

From what we can gather, it sounds like Beverley is once again out, but Jaylen Nowell is likely available after a collision with Naz Reid on Tuesday night. While it would obviously be nice to have Beverley to throw at Curry, it’s very important that Nowell seems to be okay. He is absolutely imperative to the survival of the bench lineups, His scoring punch is often enough on its own to keep those lineups afloat.

As mentioned before, the big loss tonight for Golden State is Draymond Green. Draymond is one of the most valuable players in the entire NBA for a variety of reasons, but specifically in this matchup, his ability to guard the rim and interior is going to be missed by GSW. The Wolves must be in attack mode to take advantage of the lack of rim protection.

Picking tonight’s game is difficult for me because I really don’t think Minnesota is six points worse than Golden State missing Draymond Green, but I worry this is me being a bit of a homer. I don’t think the Warriors will be able to guard Karl-Anthony Towns one-on-one, so give me over 4.5 assists. I think GSW will have to double, leading to a lot of open looks for Minnesota’s shooters.

I’d also like to put the odds of the Inside The NBA crew calling KAT “soft” on the pregame show tonight at -100000000.