By: Dan Slaubaugh
Happy Friday, Wolves fans. I hope you're Black Friday shopping is going well. The only discount I'm aware of, after briefly glancing at a Walmart magazine ad this morning, is that PS4's are on sale for $199.99. Unfortunately, I am a poor college student who has no money or I'd be all over that. But none of you came here to see me sulk. So, about them Wolves...
They have a basketball game to play tonight as the Miami Heat are in town. After developing pretty special chemistry late last season during a 30-11 run that almost got them into the playoffs last season, the Heat have been trading wins and losses more than they probably desire through 17 games in 2017-18. Currently 8-9 and fresh off a pair of wins vs. premier teams in Washington and Boston, this will be an important game for them to start making the climb to an above .500 record.
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:
Intensity: Miami has built a culture known for wearing down their opponent by putting immense pressure on the ball and that should continue tonight against the Wolves. With Miami poised to make the Wolves work extremely hard for each basket, this will be an interesting test for a Minnesota team who's starters play 36-plus minutes per night. If the Wolves poor fourth quarter performance this season is indeed related to fatigue, tonight will be the ultimate challenge against a team that doesn't get tired.
Towns-Whiteside: LEAGUE PASS ALERT! This matchup, featuring two of the league's top centers, will be a treat to watch. With Hassan Whiteside (15.5 PPG, 10.3 RBG, 1.8 BPG) being one of the most intimidating presences in the paint the league has to offer, Towns will have to establish his perimeter game early. Whiteside has also been able to expand his offense game that now goes beyond dunking anything around the rim. With Taj Gibson likely to defend power forward Justice Winslow, KAT's slowly but steadily improving defense will need to be on full display.
Defending home court: After playing 10 of their first 17 games on the road, 10 of the travel-weary Timberwolves next 14 games will be played at home. The Wolves need to take advantage of this opportunity and create separation in the West. Winning 9 of their next 14 would put them at 20-12, a record far better than any of us could have hoped or expected through 32 games.
Minnesota: PG Jeff Teague, SG Andrew Wiggins, SF Jimmy Butler, PF Taj Gibson, C Karl-Anthony Towns
Miami: PG Goran Dragic, SG Dion Waiters, SF Josh Richardson, PF Justice Winslow, C Hassan Whiteside.
Wolves lose 106-102. Frankly, I think this is a bad matchup for Minnesota. Tom Thibodeau continues to run his starters into the ground and the Wolves have shown signs of fatigue in the fourth quarter as a result. I think Miami, a team who prides itself on conditioning and limitless stamina, will further expose this weakness and outwork Minnesota for a win in the fourth quarter. Obviously, let's hope this doesn't happen.
Thanks for reading. Enjoy the game. Go Wolves.