By: Jonah Sprinkel
Tonight, the Minnesota Timberwolves will square off against LeBron James, a healthy Isaiah Thomas and the Cleveland Cavaliers. This is a game that projects to be high scoring as both teams are top 10 in offensive rating and in the bottom half of the league for defensive rating. The Timberwolves will need to make the best of every opportunity on the floor to not be run off their home court.
Since losing to the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day the Cavs are 2-3 with losses coming at Sacramento, at Utah and at Boston. They’ve won the two games Isaiah Thomas has played in, home against Portland and at Orlando last night. Thomas played limited minutes in both of those games but is averaging 18 points, one rebound and 3.5 assists on 52 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from three. The Cavs have played five games since Christmas Day.
The Wolves have played seven games since Christmas day. They are 4-3 in those games. After back to back road losses to Brooklyn and Boston the Wolves took care of the Pelicans very easily on Saturday at home. With the halfway mark of the season upon us the Wolves have already won 25 games. This puts the team on track to win 50.
What: Cavaliers @ Wolves
When: 7:00 PM CT
Where: Target Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Where to watch: Fox Sports North
Where to listen: 830 WCCO
What to watch for
Wolves defense: Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, it has finally happened. The Minnesota Timberwolves have crawled their way out of the pit of misery to claim their spot as the 19th best defense in the NBA! Jimmy Butler is the all world defender we love and know while his buddy, Karl-Anthony Towns, has stepped up to plate. He’s averaging 2.1 blocks and 1.2 steals since Joel Embiid called him out on Instagram.
Cavs bench vs Wolves bench: The Cavs bench unit is led by one of the best shooting guards in the last 20 years, Dwayne Wade. That unit is averaging 40.6 points (5th in NBA) per game compared to the Wolves 25.3 (28th in NBA). That Cavs unit also makes 37.5 percent of their 12 three point attempts a game.
Wolves w/ Tyus: There are 22 lineups in the NBA that have play more than 10 minutes a game and have done so for 15 or more games. Of those 22 lineups, the Wolves lineup of Jones, Butler, Wiggins, Gibson and Towns has the highest plus/minus in the league at +7.3. The Philadelphia 76ers starting give clocks in at second in the league at +5.7. The Golden State Warriors starting five comes in at a close third place with a +5.6.
Minnesota: PG Tyus Jones, SG Jimmy Butler, SF Andrew Wiggins, PF Taj Gibson, C Karl-Anthony Towns
Cleveland: PG Isaiah Thomas, SG J.R. Smith, SF Jae Crowder, PF LeBron James, C Kevin Love
Though the Wolves are favored by a point tonight I don’t believe they’ll be able to overcome LeBron James and the Cavs excellent bench. Did I mention that the Cavs attempt the third most threes in the league and make 38 percent of them? Tonight should be interesting.