By: Dan Slaubaugh
Well, fellas, tonight’s a big one in the Western Conference playoff race. Monstrous, in fact.
A Timberwolves victory would give them the series win and tiebreaker over the Trail Blazers, which is like having another game in the standings. Furthermore, it would give give them tiebreakers over three teams in the playoff race - Portland, Oklahoma City, and New Orleans (also could still win tiebreaker with San Antonio with a win March 17).
Meanwhile, Portland (35-26) currently stands in fifth place, 1-½ games behind No. 3 Minnesota (38-26) and 1/2 game back of No. 4 San Antonio (36-26). They have played great as of late, winning six of their past seven games, and will be gunning for a fifth straight win after blowing past the Kings in a 116-99 home win on Tuesday.
What: Wolves @ Blazers
Where: Moda Center. Portland, Oregon.
When: 9:30 PM CT
Where to watch: TNT
Where to listen: 830 WCCO
What to watch for:
Wiggins comfortable without Butler: He won’t say it, but Andrew Wiggins loves being the go-to option offensively. With Jimmy Butler sidelined the last couple games, Wiggins has looked more aggressive and decisive, helping lead the Wolves to back-to-back wins while scoring a combined 55 points on 51 percent shooting from the field. Look for Wiggins to come out firing offensively again tonight.
Dame Dolla: Currently averaging 26.3 points, 6.6 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game while shooting a career-high 44.9 percent from the field and 36.9 percent from the 3-point line, Damian Lillard has been the league’s most underappreciated point guard this season. Alongside dynamic shooting guard CJ McCollum, they form one of the most dangerous backcourts in the league. The Wolves will have their hands full trying to contain these two from getting hot.
Jef Teague surging: The veteran point guard has unquestionably been one of the biggest beneficiaries of Jimmy Butler's two-game absence thus far with a knee injury, as he's averaged 22.5 points on 15.5 shot attempts in the pair of contests. He’s stepped up at a time the team needs him most and much like Wiggins, has looked more aggressive and decisive with the basketball.
Minnesota: PG Jeff Teague, SG Andrew Wiggins, SF Nemanja Bjelica, PF Taj Gibson, C Karl-Anthony Towns
Portland: PG Damian Lillard, SG CJ McCollum, SF Maurice Harkless, PF Al-Faroqu Aminu, C Jusuf Nurkic
Honestly, I hate watching the Wolves play in Portland. It seems like every time they play in the Moda Center it’s a close and competitive game through 2 ½ quarters until Portland goes on a massive run and tears the hearts out of Timberwolves fans across the country. Also, their arena seems dark. Ha.
Wolves struggles in Portland continue, lose 113-108. Wiggins pours in 27 points. KAT follows with 25 points and 13 boards.
Thanks for reading. Enjoy the game. Go Wolves.