By; Jonah Sprinkel
The Minnesota Timberwolves win over the Washington Wizards feels like an eternity when the reality is it has only been four days. Four days of constantly and irritatingly waiting for the next Wolves game. Waiting only to find out if they are a playoff team sans Jimmy Butler.
An outsider would think that wins over the Wizards and the Golden State Warriors would breathe positivity into Wolves fans. But every Wolves fan knows how bipolar this team is regardless of who is on the court or patrolling the sidelines.
Anxiety and the sense of impending doom are common emotions for anyone who roots for this squad. As the Wolves headed into San Antonio, the current 8-seed who sit only a game back from the Wolves, those feelings could not be higher.
What: Wolves @ Spurs
Where: AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas
When: 7:30 p.m. CT
Where to watch: Fox Sports North
Where to listen: 830 WCCO
What to watch for:
Thanks to the basketball gods: Let me be clear, I am not thankful for injuries nor do I wish injuries on anyone. Kawhi Leonard has been ruled out of the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. If he had made his return to the court against the Timberwolves he would’ve scored 40+ points. I’d bet my life on that.
Nemanja Bjelica: Since Jimmy Butler went down against the Houston Rockets, Nemanja Bjelica has received every start in Butler’s spot. In those 7 games, Bjelica has averaged 37.9 minutes per game, a far cry from the 15.7 minutes per game he averaged until that point.
In those 37.9 minutes per game Bjelica has the highest Net Rating Differential at +15.2. For a little more context, the Wolves post a 112.1 offensive rating and a 104.9 defensive rating in the 265 minutes Bjelica has been on the floor. In the 71 minutes he was off the floor, the team records and 111.4 offensive rating and a 119.3 defensive rating.
Andrew Wiggins: In the 10 games Andrew Wiggins has played against Kawhi Leonard he's averaged 14.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 2.7 turnovers on 34.2 percent from the floor and 7.1 percent from beyond the arc. Wiggins absolutely must capitalize on Leonard’s absence tonight. It might decide the outcome.
Minnesota: PG Jeff Teague, SG Andrew Wiggins, SF Nemanja Bjelica, PF Taj Gibson, C Karl-Anthony Towns
San Antonio: PG Patty Mills, SG Dejounte Murray, SF Kyle Anderson, PF Danny Green, C LaMarcus Aldridge
ESPN lists the Spurs as a four-point favorite. I hate to say it, but the Wolves will lose. It is a very tall task for this squad to go into San Antonio, with both teams on the playoff bubble, and beat a team coached by Gregg Popovich.