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Game Preview #80: Wizards at Wolves

The Timberwolves return to Target Center to close out the regular season with three straight home games.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Washington Wizards Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Game Info

Who: Washington Wizards (34-44) at Minnesota Timberwolves (45-34)
When: 7:00pm CST
TV: Bally Sports North
Radio: 830 WCCO AM Radio
Line: Wolves -12 (courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook)

What To Watch For

After a prolonged road trip, the Minnesota Timberwolves return home to close out the 2021-22 regular season with three straight home games. The menu this week includes tonight’s opponent (Washington Wizards) as well as the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday and then the Chicago Bulls to put a bow on things Sunday.

As you all know by now, the Wolves are currently lumped into a fairly competitive and intense playoff race, with a couple teams in the Western Conference fighting to avoid the 7-seed (and therefore elevate themselves from the play-in tournament).

I tweeted this out on Monday, but Minnesota currently finds themselves 1.5 games back of the Utah Jazz and 2.0 games back of the Denver Nuggets. The Wolves DO own the tiebreaker with Denver, but do NOT own the tiebreaker with Utah. The Jazz finish their regular season with home games against the Memphis Grizzlies, Oklahoma City Thunder, Phoenix Suns, and then a quick one-game hitter in Portland, while the Nuggets finish their season with three straight home games against the Spurs, Grizzlies, and Los Angeles Lakers.

My point is this — while the Wolves still have an outside chance at moving into the top six, they are running out of runway to land the plane here, which means it’s more likely than not that the team will be hosting fans again a week from now when the play-in tournament gets set to tip-off at Target Center. The only way to avoid that scenario is to essentially win out, which isn’t possible unless they go take care of business tonight at home against the Wizards.

Injury Reports

There you have it — Patrick Beverley is OUT, Jaden McDaniels (and Malik Beasley) are IN, and the Wolves are once again nearing full strength as they prepare for yet another very, very important basketball game.

On the other end of the court, the Wizards are relatively healthy for this time of year, with just Kyle Kuzma and Vernon Carey, Jr. both OUT with various lower body injuries. Washington will also be without Bradley Beal, who underwent season-ending wrist surgery back in early February.

Prediction time — despite being firmly entrenched in the NBA Lottery, the Wizards have actually been quite feisty lately, winning four of their last six games. 12 points is a pretty big number, even for a team that is playing for something on their home court. Similar to what we saw in Houston against a young Rockets team, I’ll say the Wolves put up a million points tonight and cruise to a victory, but that the Wizards hit just enough shots of their own to cover the spread.

Wolves 128, Wizards 118

Check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation.