What To Watch For
After one of their worst losses of the season, the Minnesota Timberwolves are back in action tonight as they square off against the Cavaliers of Cleveland. Since returning from the NBA All-Star break, the Wolves have continued their roller coaster trend, gutting out an impressive victory on Thursday over the Memphis Grizzlies only to then get blown out the next night by James Harden and the Philadelphia 76ers.
There’s two ways to look at the most recent Timberwolves loss — on one side, it was the second night of a back-to-back against a contending team that will likely be playing games late into May (and possibly June). Conversely, the Wolves got flat-out spanked by a new-look 76ers squad that was playing their first real basketball together since the blockbuster trade that sent Ben Simmons to Brooklyn.
I’ve tried all season to follow the wise words of D’Angelo Russell when evaluating both wins and losses — never too high, never too low. Getting a split to start the home stretch of the regular season was nice, but I’d be lying if I said the loss to Philly didn’t leave a sour taste in my mouth. As we (and many others) have discussed recently, the Wolves’ starting lineup is beginning to show cracks, Anthony Edwards has fallen into another slump (offensively), and Minnesota’s Achilles Heel continues to be their inability to secure defensive rebounds.
Should we collectively panic? Probably not, as this specific stretch of the season was always going to be a major challenge before things open up later this week with five straight games against a combination of the Portland Trail Blazers, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Orlando Magic. But before the schedule softens, the Wolves need to regroup as they prepare for yet another back-to-back, starting tonight against an uber impressive Cavaliers team led by first-time All-Stars Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen.
Minnesota @Timberwolves Status Report in advance of tomorrow’s game at Cleveland:— Timberwolves PR (@Twolves_PR) February 27, 2022
Beasley - Non-Covid Illness
Bolmaro - G League Assignment
Wright IV - Left UCL Injury
This is about as clean of an injury report as you can hope for (especially this far into the season). Malik Beasley was seen at practice on Sunday, which bodes well for his return tonight against the Cavs. Outside of that, McKinley Wright is still recovering from his left UCL injury and Leandro Bolmaro continues his duty down in Des Moines.
As for tonight’s opponent...
Darius Garland and Caris LeVert are out tonight for the Cavs against the Wolves— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) February 28, 2022
Without Garland and LeVert, Cleveland might have the worst offense in the league
Here’s the beginning of their last game. No one can self-create offense so it’s a 90s-style post up and pin down fest pic.twitter.com/2JPrinXeme
In addition to being without both Caris LeVert and Darius Garland (who did play 24 minutes in the All-Star game... hmm...), the Cavs will also be without Rajon Rondo. As Dane mentioned in his tweet, the Cavs have struggled mightily on the offensive end since without Garland and LeVert, which is yet another reason tonight should be a must-win for a Timberwolves team scrapping and clawing their way through the Western Conference.
Prediction time — despite being on the road, there’s very little reason that Minnesota doesn’t take care of business tonight. The Wolves have had two days off since getting pummeled by the 76ers, and I expect them to rebound tonight against a depleted Cavaliers squad. Wolves 114, Cavs 105.