While the first matchup will not be part of the In-Season Tournament, this game still holds a lot of stake in terms of tiebreakers at the top of the Western Conference. The Wolves will look to slow down Steph Curry and extend their win streak to six games.
- Who: Minnesota Timberwolves (6-2) at Golden State Warriors (6-3)
- When: 7:30 PM CT
- Where: Chase Center
- TV: Bally Sports North (Michael Grady, Jim Petersen and Marney Gellner)
- Radio: Wolves Radio App, KFAN FM 100.3
- Line: Wolves +1 Total: 220.5 (courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook)
Updated as of 6:00 PM CT on Sunday:
- Anthony Edwards (illness)
- Naz Reid (neck soreness)
- Jaylen Clark (right achilles tendon rupture rehab)
- Jordan McLaughlin (right knee MCL sprain)
- Leonard Miller (G League assignment
- Wendell Moore Jr. (G League assignment)
- Andrew Wiggins (left cervical tightness)
- Gary Payton II (right finger infection)
What To Watch For
Who Picks Up the Scoring Off the Bench if Naz Reid Can’t Play
Friday night was a grind of a win for the Timberwolves. It was not the prettiest but they were able to withstand the barrage that the San Antonio Spurs brought down upon them. While they got out of San Antonio with a win to kick off their NBA In-Season Tournament play, there was one note of concern with the game. Fan favorite Naz Reid went up for a layup and came down weird, slamming his head into the basket stanchion. Reid remained down for over a minute before holding his neck when once stood up.
To me, it seemed more of an awkward bump and nothing too serious. While Big Jelly didn’t have the most eye-popping game yesterday, he has still been imperative to the Timberwolves’ bench attack this season. Reid is averaging a highly efficient 13.8 points per game in just under 23 minutes and has been a crucial spark plug when the starters are struggling or need to rest.
Something to keep an eye on for tomorrow’s game is who will pick up that scoring off of the bench?
I think that it’s time for Shake Milton to have his breakout game. If Naz does not play (or is limited in some capacity), Shake is more than capable of picking up a lot of the scoring slack off the bench for this team. He has started slow this season but the last two games has been able to find some of that scoring punch. He put up 10 points against the Pelicans and hit a couple of 3-pointers last game, but will have an increased offensive role if Reid is not able to go. Milton scored at least 20 points six times for the Philadelphia 76ers, so he is surely capable of being providing that added offense off the bench.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker vs. Chris Paul
One of the biggest acquisitions this offseason was Chris Paul landing on the Warriors in exchange for Jordan Poole.
While initially the hope was to start all three of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Paul, the Warriors quickly abandoned that strategy because of that lineup’s lack of size. Instead, Paul has been coming off the bench for this squad and has been doing a great job stabilizing the young second unit for Golden State.
One of the Warriors’ biggest issues in years past has been losing the minutes when Steph Curry is off the floor... badly. Paul has neutralized this issue to the point that they are winning those minutes now (even though he has not found his shot as of yet). This makes the Warriors even tougher to matchup against knowing that you don’t get a break even when Curry heads to the bench.
Because of this, the Timberwolves are going to have to find a way to slow down Paul in that second unit. Enter Nickeil Alexander-Walker.
It is easy to guess that Jaden McDaniels will draw the Curry matchup and it is obviously important that Minnesota is able to stop him. Or at least as much as is possible with a player like Curry. However, because of that, Slim will not be able to guard CP3. That is where NAW has to shine in this game. I think that Paul and Alexander-Walker are on a collision course and NAW will need to shut down Paul to give the Timberwolves their best chance to win.
Paul is averaging 8.8 points and 7.3 assists this season and regularly roasts second unit matchups, but rarely does he have to face a defender as tough as Alexander-Walker when coming off the bench.
Can Karl-Anthony Towns Keep It Going?
On the offensive end, Towns has left a lot to be desired to start the season. While he has been good on the defensive end, it has taken him some time to re-acclimate to the offense and be his usual dominant self on that end of the floor.
He has started to get back to that (with some obvious emphasis from Head Coach Chris Finch to help out) and has scored 23 and 29 points in his last two games, respectively. But Towns needs to carry that momentum into Sunday night to help out the Timberwolves on that end of the floor. He has only been shooting 32.6% from deep this season, which is also quite uncharacteristic of one of the league’s most consistent 3-point shooting threats. However, there is still lots of hope to be had as the law of averages always wins — and that will work in KAT’s favor.
This also goes back to the Reid point. If Naz is not able to go they need more offense from Towns. Period. While I think it is time for Shake to help out off the bench Towns can definitely pick up some of that slack as well as a score-first 5.
He can clearly do that against a Warriors team that he’s enjoyed playing against recently.