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Game Preview #15: Wolves at Magic

Naz Reid will return to the lineup tonight as the Wolves hit the road to take on Minnesota native Jalen Suggs and the Orlando Magic.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Orlando Magic Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Game Info

What To Watch For

The Minnesota Timberwolves will look to start stacking wins together following a victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday night. Tonight, they face Minnesota native Jalen Suggs and an Orlando Magic team decimated by injuries, who just lost by seven at home to a struggling Charlotte Hornets team. If Minnesota can’t overcome the team in front of them tonight, conversations about the state of the team will surely become very grim. But if they are able to handle business in dominant fashion tonight, they’ll have a chance to improve their national perception on NBA TV on Saturday night against Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers.

Minnesota are 6.5-point favorites entering tonight’s game, but that could change depending on the status of Wendell Carter Jr., who is questionable to play with a right plantar fascia strain.

Let’s take a look at a few keys to watch for in tonight’s matchup.

Orlando Magic v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

Can Terrence Ross Etch His Name on the List of Wolves Killers?

Terrence Ross checks crucial boxes for becoming a Wolves Killer™.

  • Non-featured player? Check
  • Rollercoaster offensive production? Check
  • Asked to play behind an offensive engine that will take defensive attention away? Check
  • Can he shoot it? Check

Ross is a heat-check king. If you don’t lock in, get in a stance, and make him work, he can pour in buckets in a hurry. The experienced scorer has scored north of 20 points twice in his 13 games played this season, but that is largely due to his backseat role on a team trying to feature young stars in No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero and 2021 first-round pick Franz Wagner. But now that he’s got a heavy burden to carry offensively with Banchero, Cole Anthony and Markelle Fultz all out tonight, it will be essential for the Wolves to make him a focal point of their defensive effort. Whether it’s Anthony Edwards, Jaden McDaniels or Jaylen Nowell who is asked to guard him, they need be ready to dig in and compete on and off-ball.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

D’Angelo Russell, Offensive Engine

After a sub-optimal start to his 2022-23 campaign, all D’Angelo Russell heard outside of the Timberwolves locker room was about how poor his play was, his looming free agency, etc. But inside this Wolves group, the team kept believing in their starting point guard and it paid off in a major way on Sunday night. Russell scored a season-high 30 points on 11/13 shooting (6/7 2PT, 4/5 3PT) to go along with a season-high 11 assists. He delivered timely buckets within the flow of the offense, pushed the right buttons with the ball in his hands, got everyone involved, and tied a season-low with two turnovers.

Regardless of your feelings about the one-time All-Star, it is nice to see his teammates support him in such a public way and encourage him to be himself on the floor. Russell hasn’t been the quality of player we’ve seen so far in ‘22-23 in any of his previous seasons in the NBA.

Perhaps Russell more than anyone else needed time to adjust to the new additions and find his footing within the offense. Perhaps Sunday was a one-game boon. Either way, the Wolves need him to be his best moving forward, and his performance against Cleveland was certainly encouraging. Going against a high-level perimeter defender in Jalen Suggs, while his teammates face bigger, slower defenders will be a good test of where Russell is at both as a scorer off the dribble and as a facilitator that can create advantages for others.

Charlotte Hornets v Orlando Magic Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

No Small-Ball in Sight

If you are a fan of absurd experimental lineups with wonky fits, tonight will be your Super Bowl. If Wendell Carter Jr. is able to play, Head Coach Jamahl Mosley is likely to roll out a starting five of Suggs, 6-foot-10 Franz Wagner at the 2, 6-foot-8 Chuma Okeke at the swingman spot, 6-foot-10 Carter Jr. at the 4 and 7-foot-2 Bol Bol in the middle. Counter that with 6-foot-9 Naz Reid, 7-foot Jaden McDaniels, 7-foot Karl-Anthony Towns and 7-foot-1 Rudy Gobert and you might have a cage match in the paint on your hands.

Granted, all five of Orlando’s projected starters can play on the perimeter, it will still be a fun watch to see how both sides battle it out. Big-to-big passing may be few and far between Towns and Gobert out of post-up situations, so Towns may have to take Carter Jr. off the bounce if he wants to get his fellow All-Star big man more involved off the pass. How both coaches look to invert their offense and create space in the paint will be a fun side plot in this one. I’m interested to see how Reid will be able to attack the Magic’s thin front-court bench rotation, namely Mo Bamba. Reid has shown a strong ability to finish inside (88.5% in the restricted area) no matter who he’s taking on, whether it’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis, or anyone in between.

Injury Reports



  • Naz Reid (illness)


  • Luka Garza (two-way contract)
  • Josh Minott (G-League assignment)
  • Wendell Moore Jr. (G-League assignment)


Editor’s note: Wendell Carter Jr. was ruled out minutes after this article went live.


  • Cole Anthony (right internal oblique tear)
  • Paolo Banchero (left ankle sprain)
  • Wendell Carter Jr. (right plantar fascia strain)
  • Markelle Fultz (left big toe fracture)
  • Gary Harris (left knee injury recovery)
  • Jonathan Isaac (left knee injury recovery)
  • Mo Wagner (right mid-foot sprain)