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Game Preview #54: Wolves at Kings

The Tyrese Haliburton/Domantas Sabonis trade ushers in a new era in Sacramento.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Sacramento Kings Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Game Info

Who: Minnesota Timberwolves (28-25) at Sacramento Kings (20-35)
When: 9:10 pm CST
TV: Bally Sports North / NBA League Pass
Radio: 830 WCCO AM Radio
Line: Wolves -7.0 | O/U 232

Trade Deadline Impact

The winds that have fueled the shoddy shit blizzard that is the Sacramento Kings gusted at nearly unprecedented speeds today when the Kings sent sophomore sensation Tyrese Haliburton, masterful marksman Buddy Hield, and veteran big man Tristan Thompson to the Indiana Pacers in a myopic move that landed All-Star forward Domantas Sabonis, coveted sniper Justin Holiday (who is unvaccinated), former UCONN legend Jeramy Lamb, and a 2027 second-round pick.

This rather myopic move is a signal that the Kings are all-in on both trying to make the play-in tournament (despite holding a 20-35 record) and a duo featuring two non-shooters — an electrifying point guard in De’Aaron Fox and an offensive hub in Domantas Sabonis — that will be surrounded (for now) by all non-shooters.

Indiana Pacers v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

Until the trade is finalized, the Kings will have one player with more than 15 3-point attempts that is shooting above 33.3%. That player, of course, is Harrison Barnes, who is widely expected to be moved prior to Thursday’s deadline. The shooter they acquired, Holiday, is proudly unvaccinated, a factor that certainly complicated his trade market. Lamb shot 40.6 percent from deep last season, but played only 21.3 minutes per game in 36 games, hasn’t played more than 46 games since the 2018-19 season, and is shooting just 33.3% this season.

No players involved in the trade will play tonight, since the trade still pending approval from the league. It is very likely that none of the players the Kings are acquiring will play tomorrow, either, since they’ll be traveling to Sacramento tomorrow.

The Wolves had a much better day in Sacramento than the Kings did, that’s for sure.

What to Watch For

Considering Sacramento has lost eight of their last 10 games and will be severely undermanned tonight, the Wolves should have no issue taking care of a group that is not only without its best player (Haliburton), but is also welcoming Fox back into the fold after the Kentucky product missed the team’s last eight games with an ankle sprain.

The Kings rank dead last in opponent points in the paint (52.4), which suggests the Wolves will have an easy time getting into the paint not just to score, but to set up kick-out situations. Chris Finch’s crew holds an effective field goal percentage of 64.2% over its last five games (second in the NBA), so tonight will be a prime opportunity to build on that already impressive mark and cruise to another victory tonight against the league’s 26th-ranked defense.

Detroit Pistons v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

Expect Anthony Edwards to live in the paint, Karl-Anthony Towns to be aggressive on the drive, and plenty of 3s shot by Malik Beasley and D’Angelo Russell against scrambled a defense that will be tired with a short bench.

On the other end of the floor, it will be crucial for the Wolves to keep Fox out of the paint. Fox is one of the NBA’s speediest guards who has a knack not only for getting to the rim and finishing explosively, but also for dropping off beautiful passes at the rim for Sacramento’s centers or kicking to the corners for open 3s. While the Kings won’t have many options to spot-up, Barnes is playing tonight and rookie guard Davion Mitchell has been hot and cold from deep, and can’t be left alone consistently.

However, if Fox isn’t close to 100%, I have a tough time seeing Sacramento scoring enough to keep up with a high-octane Wolves offense that ranks first in half court offensive efficiency (second in overall offensive rating) since the turn of the new year, per Cleaning the Glass.

The Wolves are laying seven points tonight and that may be seven points too few. Expect a blowout tonight.

Status Reports


The Wolves are back to full strength with their full-time NBA players tonight. McKinley Wright IV remains out with a UCL injury on his hand.


IN: Fox, Barnes

GTD: Bagley III

OUT: Haliburton, Hield, Thompson, Davis

Gambling Pick

I tweet out a gambling pick before every Wolves game over on my Twitter @jrborman13. So far this season, I am 27-25 (52%).

Tonight’s play: Karl-Anthony Towns over 3.5 assists

  • Towns has registered 4+ assists in five of his last six games
  • Towns is averaging 5.6 assists over his last five games
  • Sacramento ranks last in points in the paint allowed (52.4) and 23rd in opponent 3-point percentage (35.9)
  • Minnesota holds an eFG percentage of 64.2% in catch-and-shoot situations in the last five games, good for second in the NBA in that span.