The Minnesota Timberwolves are coming off of an extraordinarily successful five game road trip where they won four of the five. Now back in Minnesota, the Timberwolves begin a three-game home stand with a battle against the New York Knicks, who are coming off of a three-game winning streak of their own.
- Who: Minnesota Timberwolves (9-3) vs New York Knicks (8-5)
- When: 7:00 PM CT
- Where: Target Center
- TV: Bally Sports North (Michael Grady, Jim Petersen and Katie Storm)
- Radio: Wolves Radio App, KFAN FM 100.3
- Line: Timberwolves -2.5, Total: 214.5 (courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook)
Updated as of 3:20 PM CT on Monday:
- Jaylen Clark (right achilles tendon rupture rehab)
- Jordan McLaughlin (right knee MCL sprain)
- Leonard Miller (G League assignment/lower back contusion)
- Wendell Moore Jr. (G League assignment)
- Evan Fournier (right ankle inflammation)
- Quentin Grimes (sprained left wrist)
- Charlie Brown Jr. (G League two-way)
- Jacob Toppin (G League two-way)
- Duane Washington Jr. (G League two-way)
- Dylan Windler (G League assignment
What To Watch For
Rebounding, Rebounding, Rebounding…
I’m just as sick of it as you are, but rebounding could easily swing this game. While the Timberwolves aren’t one of the league’s worst rebounding teams like they were last year, they are far from ideal form given their size. According to Cleaning the Glass, the Wolves rank 17th with an offensive rebounding rate of 21.1% and rank 16th in allowing opponents to grab 27.5% of their offensive rebounds.
Unfortunately, the Knicks have been the best rebounding team in the league on both ends of the floor. So far, New York are rebounding 34.5% of their misses and allowing opponents to do the same just 21.1% of the time. Shockingly, though, the Knicks rank 27th in points per play on put-backs with just 1.008, which is encouraging since the Wolves rank 9th in points allowed per put-back at just 1.062. So, Minnesota will likely surrender a bevy of offensive rebounds, but the Knicks will have to convert them at a much higher rate than they have all year.
One of the benefits to the Knicks domination of the defensive glass is that there will likely be limited transition opportunities. The Timberwolves have improved slightly in transition defense compared to where they were last year, and this game shouldn’t damage those numbers. Off of live rebounds, New York ranks 22nd in transition frequency and 25th in scoring efficiency.
Minnesota’s 3-point defense has been one of the best all year, but that could be severely tested against New York. The Knicks currently have the 5th best 3-point shooting team as they are knocking them down at a 38.5% clip. They also rank 10th in 3-point frequency at 37.3%. The Knicks have been good from the corners shooting 40.5% (13th), but they have been uncommonly good from above the break at 37.5% (5th). For reference, they ranked 21st at 34.8% last season.
The effectiveness of their guards has been impressive as Jalen Brunson is shooting 47.7% on 6.8 attempts, Quentin Grimes is shooting 39.7% on 5.7 attempts, RJ Barrett is shooting 46.7% on 5.6 attempts, Immanuel Quickley is shooting 36.8% on 5.2 attempts, and Donte DiVincenzo is shooting 40% on 5.0 attempts. Regardless of who is in the backcourt, they’ve found success from outside.
The Timberwolves’ point of attack defense is going to be critical. If they struggle to contain drives or can’t properly navigate screens, they’ll struggle to contain drive and kick opportunities that result in open threes due to necessary defensive rotations. Additionally, the Wolves could get carved up on second chance opportunities. The Knicks haven’t done a great job of capitalizing on their monumental offensive rebounding success, but we’ve seen how good of looks teams like the Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns have gotten from three off of offensive boards.
The final trap comes with Julius Randle. Randle has gotten off to a rough start as he’s shot just 37.8% from the floor and 28.4% from three. However, Randle has a career 3-point percentage of 41.5 against the Timberwolves. In his last two games against Minnesota, Randle scored 57 points while going 8-14 from three and 31 points while going 8-13 from three. Randle has struggled this year, but he could very well break out of that slump.
Don’t Settle for 3s
The Knicks rank 27th in the league in opponent 3-point frequency as 39.7% of the opponent’s shots are coming from behind the arc. The Timberwolves rank 10th in the league in 3-point accuracy, so there should be opportunities to capitalize on there as the Knicks are more concerned about clogging up the paint and mid-range. The reason they do this, though, is because they really struggle to protect the rim.
So far, the Knicks are allowing opponents to shoot 69.6% at the rim (27th). Mitchell Robinson has been their only saving grace in this area as he ranks in the 68th percentile in block rate (2.1%). However, aside from DiVincenzo, the Knicks don’t have anyone else who ranks higher than the 40th percentile. Despite Robinson’s shot blocking prowess, they still allow opponents to shoot 70.8% at the rim when he’s on the court.
Among the Knicks’ four most used lineups, their starting lineup is the only one that has protected the rim with some competency limiting opponents to 65.4% (59th percentile). The other three lineups are allowing 75%, 84%, and 71.4% respectively. There is a massive opportunity for the Timberwolves to capitalize around the rim.
New York doesn’t have much size on their roster as only three players over 6’8” get minutes. In their second most used lineup, the Knicks swap Josh Hart for Barrett. Opponents have seen their effective field goal rate jump from 48.6% to 57.2% and their at-rim accuracy jump from 65.4% to 75%. With the Knicks third most used lineup, Quickly replaces Brunson, DiVincenzo replaces Grimes, Barrett replaces Randle, and Isaiah Hartenstein replaces Robinson. Unfortunately form them, their defense gets even worse as opponents’ effective field goal rate jumps to 59.9% and 84% at the rim. The Wolves have had two of Karl-Anthony Towns, Rudy Gobert, and Naz Reid on the floor for all but 13.4% of their possessions this season. Unless the Timberwolves routinely settle for jumpers, there is no reason that they shouldn’t dominate the points in the paint.