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Game Preview #21: Wolves at Wizards

Minnesota looks to bounce back after two dispiriting losses

Minnesota Timberwolves v Washington Wizards Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Game Info

What To Watch For

Bring the Energy

Hopefully by the end of the year this isn’t such a prevalent talking point, but for now, the amount of effort that this team shows certainly is worth discussing. After seeing good improvement in this department briefly, the Minnesota Timberwolves fell back into bad habits Friday in the second half against the Charlotte Hornets and yesterday against the Golden State Warriors. That needs to be corrected immediately against a Washington Wizards team that, while not a title contender, has enough good players to absolutely make you earn a win.

If the Wolves show up just expecting to go through the motions, this will become a three-game losing streak. It goes without saying, but this team really has to be intentional about doing the little things. They are not good enough to get away with poor transition defense or being slow to loose balls, or even just slow to rotate in general. On the second leg of their back-to-back, it’s going to take even more intention and focus than normal. Does this team have that in them? We will find out tonight.

Get Anthony Edwards Going Early

It is no secret that, as good as Anthony Edwards has been in his young career, he has really struggled on the second legs of back-to-backs. Whether it’s a mental thing or something about what he does to recover after a game, the results have spoken for themselves up to this point.

Tonight, I’d like to see Chris Finch and Minnesota try to get Ant an easy bucket early to get him going, and get him engaged. It shouldn’t necessarily be on the coach to make sure NBA players are engaged, but you also play the hand you’re dealt. When Ant’s engaged, he’s as good as they come. It would be wise for them to make sure that he’s involved early in order to avoid another four-point first-half like we saw Sunday.

This doesn’t have to be anything crazy, either. They don’t need to run Ant off of a million screens, but it would be good to get him into an action that gets him cutting downhill right away. If you can pull Kristaps Porzingis away from the basket in the process, even better. I really think that getting Edwards engaged early tonight will go a long way towards earning a victory.

Wisconsin Herd v Iowa Wolves Photo by Dylan Heuer/NBAE via Getty Images

Youthful Exuberance

Given the state of the Timberwolves wing depth with both Taurean Prince and Jaden McDaniels out, they have chosen to bring Josh Minott up with the big league squad for the game in Washington. While this could be nothing more than emergency depth, I think this team could actually use what Minott brings.

Is Josh Minott going to make every correct rotation in his first meaningful NBA action? Nope, but what he will do is fly around and bring energy, and this team needs a whole lot of that. Even if it’s just for a quick four-minute burst in the second or third quarter, I think Minott can help this team tonight.

They’ll of course still have to cover for his deficiencies, namely being really young, skinny, and a poor shooter. That’s worth it, though, to inject a little bit of life into this team. While this is not a perfect comparison, but it is somewhat similar to the role Josh Okogie played last year. When the energy level is low, bring in someone who is all energy. If he looks completely lost, you can pull the plug quickly, but Minott has been playing well in Iowa (18 & 8 per game) so I don’t expect that to be the case. Get that lawnmower going tonight.

Along the same lines, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Wendell Moore Jr. tonight either, for many of the same reasons. He has a completely different skillset than Minott, but could be helpful nonetheless.

Injury Report

Minnesota Timberwolves

  • Luka Garza: OUT — two-way contract
  • AJ Lawson: OUT — two-way contract
  • Jaden McDaniels: OUT — two-way contract
  • Taurean Prince: OUT — right shoulder subluxation
  • Jordan McLaughlin: OUT — left calf strain

Washington Wizards

  • Rui Hachimura: OUT — right ankle soreness
  • Delon Wright: OUT — right hamstring strain