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Game Preview #54: Wolves vs Warriors

Anthony Edwards and the Timberwolves will look to play better at home than they did in a 23-point loss to Steph Curry and Golden State in November.

Golden State Warriors v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

Game Info

What To Watch For

Golden State Warriors v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Jordan JohnsonNBAE via Getty Images

Defending a Five-Out Starting Lineup

The Timberwolves had their hands full on Monday night trying to defend the Sacramento Kings’ spaced-out lineup in overtime after Domantas Sabonis fouled out in regulation. Minnesota’s defensive rotations were bad. They over-helped, got caught out of position, and didn’t communicate effectively enough to get the job done. Rudy Gobert made some enlightening comments about what went wrong and what they need to do differently in order to be successful.

The great thing about the NBA is how quickly things can turn around. Minnesota will have an opportunity to see what some of those changes look like tonight against a Golden State squad with a new-look starting five of Steph Curry, Jordan Poole, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green. That lineup plays at the fastest pace in the NBA by a mile.

All five can shoot 3s, but more importantly, are positioned all over the floor and can cut, engage in PnR or DHOs, and pass from anywhere. This may be a good time for Gobert to play more aggressively up at the level of the screen when matched up with Green while Kevon Looney — their more traditional 5 — is on the bench.

One-on-one defense is paramount against a spread floor, so it could also make sense for the Wolves to give Austin Rivers more run tonight, as he gained plenty of experience guarding Curry and Poole in the playoffs last season as a member of the Denver Nuggets. I’d expect D’Angelo Russell to guard Thompson, as he has chased shooters around the perimeter in several games this season.

Golden State Warriors v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

Anthony Edwards vs Andrew Wiggins

It’s fair to say that Edwards is a different player than he was when Golden State last came to Target Center shortly after Thanksgiving. In that game, Wiggins guarded Edwards for more than three-times as long as the next defender (Jonathan Kuminga) and did well on him. Edwards scored four points on 2/5 shooting, compared to 22 points on 5/12 shooting (and 10/11 FTs) when guarded by other Warriors defenders.

Ant will need to win that matchup in an emphatic way en route to another 30-plus-point night if the Wolves want to keep it close with a team built to find success against a more traditional drop coverage defense like Minnesota’s. The good news is that isn’t something to blink at anymore. Edwards is averaging 29.8 points per game on 49.5/44.8/80.4 shooting splits over his last 10 games, and 32 PPG on 52.3/51.2/71.0 shooting in his last five outings. He has done it against great defenders like Dillon Brooks, Herb Jones, Jarred Vanderbilt and Isaac Okoro, and has done it against teams with poor wing defenders, too.

If Edwards can use his strength and explosive first step to overwhelm Wiggins’ length and lateral quickness, he will be able to collapse a Warriors defense that is struggling to protect the rim when defenders get down there. Although they are the best team in the league at preventing looks at the rim (just 21% rim rate), they are 21st in opponent rim FG% (68%). That will only get worse with Looney now coming off the bench. Edwards will need to replicate his double-digit free throw night from November and impose his will on the Warriors’ interior defense early and often.

Injury Reports



  • Bryn Forbes (right ankle sprain)
  • Rudy Gobert (right groin soreness)
  • Taurean Prince (left ankle sprain)


  • Jordan McLaughlin (left calf strain)
  • Karl-Anthony Towns (right calf strain)

Golden State


  • Andre Iguodala (right hip soreness)