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Game Preview #81: Wolves at Spurs

Minnesota needs a win in San Antonio today to make Sunday’s game against New Orleans meaningful

San Antonio Spurs v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

Game Info

Injury Reports



  • Jaylen Nowell — Left Knee Tendinopathy
  • Austin Rivers — Illness
  • Karl-Anthony Towns — Right Calf Strain/Illness


  • Naz Reid — Left Scaphoid Fracture

San Antonio


  • Keldon Johnson — Right Foot; Sprain
  • Romeo Langford — Left Adductor; Injury management


  • Charles Bassey — Left Patella; Non-displaced fracture
  • Khem Birch — Right Knee; Chondromalacia
  • Devonte Graham — Left Adductor; Strain
  • Doug McDermott — Right Ankle; Sprain
  • Jeremy Sochan — Right Knee; Soreness
  • Devin Vassell — Right Knee; Injury management

What To Watch For

Portland Trail Blazers v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

Respect the Game

This is not the time nor the place for a preview filled with X’s and O’s or breaking down exactly what the San Antonio Spurs might do to try to limit the likes of Karl-Anthony Towns or Anthony Edwards. Today is simply about the Minnesota Timberwolves showing an ability to respect the game and respect their opponent, both of which have been monumental struggles for them this season.

With two games remaining, all San Antonio is playing for is draft positioning and testing the limits of their young guys’ abilities. They truly have no organizational interest in winning today, and so long as the Wolves play with an inkling of respect for the sport, all parties can accomplish their goals today.

There is no more room for error. No more room for “we’ll figure it out” or anything of the sort. A win today makes tomorrow’s game the determining factor in the key race for 8th in the Western Conference, which guarantees you two cracks at winning one Play-In game. The Wolves can’t win both games today, but taking care of business today will set them up to at least earn that right tomorrow.

Take Care of the Ball

If there is one tactical/game plan item that trumps all else today, it is limiting turnovers. Minnesota has vastly more talent than San Antonio does, but allowing teams to get out and run in transition on their slow-footed two-big lineup is one hell of a way to level that playing field. If the Wolves can keep this a half-court affair, they should be just fine, but we just saw them turn the ball over nearly 20 times against Portland last Saturday, which ultimately flipped the game.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

A Shortened Rotation?

I am most interested to see what head coach Chris Finch decides to do with his rotation, primarily at point guard. Mike Conley will of course start, but his back-up minutes went solely to Nickeil Alexander-Walker on Tuesday night as opposed to Jordan McLaughlin. If the game is tight, will Finch do the same in the second-half, or even cut the rotation to seven guys and use Kyle Anderson as the back-up point guard?

That certainly wouldn’t be ideal, given that Minnesota has the back-to-back tomorrow. In a perfect world, they’re able to control this one from the jump and not overwork their starters. This team rarely finds pleasure in doing things the easy way, though, so it’s best to be prepared for another nail-biter.