By: Seth Toupal
Tonight the Wolves look to make it 2 wins in a row when they host the New Orleans Pelicans. The Wolves are coming off a 120-113 win to start their 5 game homestand. With their newest teammates expected to play tonight for the first time since the Jimmy Butler trade, we will get our first look at the post-Jimmy Butler Wolves. Anthony Davis and the Pelicans are coming into an arena that has not been kind to them in years past. Will the Wolves rise to the occasion or will The Brow flex his muscles tonight and lead the Pelicans to a win?
What: Pelicans @ Wolves
When: 7:00 PM CT
Where: Target Center
Where to watch: Fox Sports North/ESPN
Where to listen: 830 AM WCCO
What to watch for:
How do Covington and Saric fit in?: All eyes will be on the Wolves' newest acquisitions Robert Covington and Dario Saric, who are expected to make their debuts tonight. Covington alluded to some things he thinks he can assist with right away especially on defense in his introductory press conference. Saric is an intriguing young player that should greatly benefit playing next to KAT. Both are team-first guys who should fit right in with the rest of the crew.
How does the Puzzle Fit Together?: As with all trades the biggest question is what impact will it have on the starters, and bench unit. Will Saric start or will Gibson? Which bench player gets a minutes reduction? My guess is that Saric and Covington will start initially, as Taj Gibson has already stated he will do whatever helps the team win games even if that means coming off the bench. With Gibson potentially manning the bench which big sees their minutes reduced? Depending on matchups and situations we could see more of a timeshare with Gorgui and Anthony Tolliver. But with Gorgui being the primary backup center it's likely that Gibson and Tolliver will start to split minutes more evenly.
Randle, Mirotic and Brow, Oh My!: Julius Randle has been a massive impact player for New Orleans this year. Combined with a resurgence from Nikola Mirotic and the usual fantastic play of Anthony Davis, the Pelicans have unique bigs that will be a tough matchup for the Wolves. Davis and Towns will be the matchup to watch, but don't overlook Saric/Gibson/Tolliver against Randle and Mirotic. Holliday and Teague will be fun to watch as well but I expect the Wolves to try to exploit matchup strengths at SG and SF with Wiggins and Covington as much as they can.
Minnesota: PG Jeff Teague, SG Andrew Wiggins, SF Robert Covington, PF Dario Saric, C Karl-Anthony Towns
New Orleans: PG Jrue Holiday, SG E"Twaun Moore, SF Wesley Johnson, PF Nikola Mirotic, C Anthony Davis
Minnesota: QUESTIONABLE - Jeff Teague (knee), Andrew Wiggins (knee)
New Orleans: QUESTIONABLE - Elfrid Payton (ankle), Nikola Mirotic (ankle),
We saw Monday night the sense of resolution that the Wolves now have. They were able to beat the Nets despite being short handed. With Covington and Saric joining the team I look for them to both have an immediate impact. Davis is always a tough matchup and New Orleans is a very deep team but I think the Wolves will give the home crowd something to cheer about.
Wolves 119, Pelicans 98 :)
Seth is host of The Scoop on KLGR Radio out of Redwood Falls, Minnesota. Listen to episodes of The Scoop here.