Who: Minnesota Timberwolves (16-20) at Los Angeles Clippers (19-18)
When: 9:30pm CST
TV: Bally Sports North
Radio: 830 WCCO AM Radio
Line: Clippers -4
L.A. back-to-back— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) January 3, 2022
Wolves at Clippers
9:30pm CT, https://t.co/dEhIrNe7re Arena
Preview » https://t.co/2JO2ikXIdB pic.twitter.com/6upCkcucGl
What to Watch For
The Minnesota Timberwolves have had themselves a solid season so far, but they are in the midst of losing 5 of their last 6 games as they try to stay alive through the COVID absences that have riddled their most talented players.
The Clippers also have been dealing with some unfortunate injury/health luck as well. They find themselves just one game over .500 nearly halfway through the season.
This will be the fourth and final time the teams meet up this season, with the Clippers holding a 3-0 record in those games, winning by double digits in each one. Safe to say the Clippers have had the Wolves’ number this season. Much of that has had to do with their ability to effectively take Karl-Anthony Towns out of the games.
In the three contests so far, Towns averaged just 15.3 points, 9 rebounds, 2.3 assists per game while shooting just 10-for-20 from 2 and 6-for-18 from three. He was effectively schemed out of the game. LA limited his shot attempts and forced misses when he could get them away.
This fourth matchup will be different. Not because the Wolves figured out how to counter the Clippers’ defensive scheme against Towns, but because Towns won’t be playing in tonight’s game.
News from Chris Finch on Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell. He said they're "at the end of their protocol run." Have to get up to speed physically. Did not anticipate they'd be ready tomorrow vs. Clippers. Said Wednesday at home against OKC is a "more realistic target."— Chris Hine (@ChristopherHine) January 3, 2022
It will be interesting to see how the Clippers decide to defend the Timberwolves without Towns being in the lineup.
For the Timberwolves, they’ll have to adjust their priorities on the defensive end as well. Paul George, who torched the Wolves earlier this year, will not be playing for the Clippers as he is dealing with a UCL tear.
This game comes down to this: Two middling Western Conference teams missing their two top players.
However, despite the depleted roster, the Clippers just defeated the Brooklyn Nets, with Kevin Durant and James Harden, on Saturday. So this team is not pushover, even without their top guys.
As for players to watch, I’d keep my eye on Naz Reid. Reid had a great showing against the Lakers on Sunday and the Clippers will be without Ivica Zubac and Isaiah Hartenstein. Serge Ibaka is the lone big man available for LA.
It will also be interesting to see if Anthony Edwards can get something going against a smaller lineup like the Clippers.
Don’t forget to keep an eye on Amir Coffey, who started for Los Angeles on Saturday and scored 14 points, grabbed 8 rebounds, and dished out 5 assists. Coffey, of course, is a former Minnesota Golden Gopher and Hopkins High School standout.
The Los Angeles Clippers are without a number of players heading into tonight’s contest. The biggest names missing are Kawhi Leonard, who has not played yet this season, Paul George, and Luke Kennard.
Minnesota @Timberwolves Status Report in advance of tonight’s game at LA Clippers:— Timberwolves PR (@Twolves_PR) January 3, 2022
Russell - Return to Competition Reconditioning
Towns - Return to Competition Reconditioning
Wright IV - G League Two-Way
As for the Timberwolves, like previously mentioned, Chris Finch noted that Towns and Russell will not suit up for the game tonight. The good news, though, is that Towns and Russell have both officially cleared Health and Safety Protocols and are just working on their conditioning to return to the lineup. Wednesday at home against the Thunder seems like a likely game for their returns.
Nice to see the Wolves are returning to a healthy team, which will be much needed to make a push for the playoffs in the second half of the season.