By: Jonah Sprinkel
The Minnesota Timberwolves just keep winning. Since dropping five straight games in early November the team has posted a 9-3 record with wins over Portland, San Antonio and Houston. Based on how this season started, the last month of success is comparable to the Warriors 28 game winning streak. Ok not really but you see my point. The Wolves are flourishing both offensively and defensively. Those words haven’t been true since Kevin Garnett patrolled Target Center. Despite all this winning the team still sits a half game back in the Western Conference playoff race. With the team in Portland tonight, there’s an opportunity to gain some ground. But, can the Wolves win on the road?
What: Wolves @ Blazers
When: 9:00 PM CT
Where: Target Center
Where to watch: Fox Sports North
Where to listen: 830 AM WCCO
What to watch for
The Wolves since 11/23: Karl-Anthony Towns & Co. are not just playing “winning” basketball. They are currently playing some of the best basketball in the entire league. Since the win over Brooklyn on Nov. 23, the Wolves are the only team with a top-five offensive and defensive rating. They also possess the second highest net-rating in that time span, trailing only Boston. Though they only played one team at or over .500, this should instill some confidence in a squad that has been lacking in said department.
The Blazers since 11/23: The Blazers recent stretch does anything but mirror the Wolves. They have gone 2-5 with losses to Golden State, LA Clippers, Denver, San Antonio and Dallas. In that span they’re a bottom-five defensive team with a middle of the pack offense. Though in this stretch Damian Lillard is averaging 29 points, seven assists, just over 4 rebounds on 45 percent from the field on 40 percent from deep. If the Blazers lose, it’s no fault of his.
Karl-Anthony Towns: Since Nov. 23 Towns has averaged nearly 25 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, a block and a half as well as a steal and a half. All this on a 51/38/82 shooting split. These aren’t the most impressive numbers. When KAT checks out of a game the Wolves offense drops off by over 12 points per 100 possessions. While the team’s defense does improve slightly in the same scenario, in 237 minutes on the court the Wolves only allow 99 points per 100 possessions. This defensive rating would rank first in the league by nearly three points.
Minnesota: PG Jeff Teague, SG Andrew Wiggins, SF Robert Covington, PF Taj Gibson, C Karl-Anthony Towns
Portland: PG Damian Lillard, SG Seth Curry, SF Maurice Harkless, PF Al-Farouq Aminu, C Jusuf Nurkic
Minnesota: OUT – Jerryd Bayless (knee)
Portland: Probable – CJ McCollum (ankle)
If CJ McCollum plays this game should be much more competitive. If not, the Wolves should easily take advantage of Seth Curry as a defender. However, some of that burden will fall to Andrew Wiggins who is the basketball player equivalent to playing Russian roulette with a 15-shot revolver. 14 out of 15 times, you’re going to get a whole lot of nothing. The Blazers are favored by 2 and the Wolves have a 2-8 record outside of Target Center. Blazers, 112-109.