By: Jonah Sprinkel
Two games without Jimmy Butler has resulted in two wins for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Both wins, over the Brooklyn Nets and New Orleans Pelicans, were spear headed by Karl-Anthony Towns. He’s averaged 25 points, 18 boards and 2 blocks on 64 percent from the field and 67 percent from deep. It’s early in the post-Butler era, but Towns has stepped up to the plate. With the Portland Trailblazers in town tonight, another big showing from KAT is necessary.
What: Blazers @ Wolves
When: 7:00 PM CT
Where: Target Center
Where to watch: Fox Sports North
Where to listen: 830 AM WCCO
What to watch for
The non-Jimmy lineup: Jeff Teague, Derrick Rose, Andrew Wiggins, Taj Gibson and Karl-Anthony Towns have played a whopping 40 minutes together in five different games. Through 15 games, this is the Wolves most used lineup that does not feature Jimmy Butler. They have outscored opposing lineups by 5 and half points per 100 possessions. Though this is through high-quality offense rather than adequate defense. Tom Thibodeau’s propensity to play a select few should allow this lineup to see the court more frequently.
The Blazers death lineup: Of any NBA lineup that has played 60 or more minutes together there is none more effective than the Blazers lineup of Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Evan Turner, Al-Farouq Aminu and Jusuf Nukic. In their brief on court stints they have posted a 125 offensive rating and an 89 defensive rating, the largest net rating of any qualifying lineup. The ability to switch on defense while simultaneously going nuclear offensively could create problems for a Wolves team that doesn’t shoot a requisite amount of threes and doesn’t defend.
Minnesota: PG Jeff Teague, SG Andrew Wiggins, SF Robert Covington, PF Taj Gibson, C Karl-Anthony Towns
Portland: PG Damian Lillard, SG CJ McCollum, SG Jake Layman, PF Al-Farouq Aminu, C Jusuf Nurkic
Minnesota: Jerryd Bayless – OUT (Knee)
Portland: Maurice Harkless – OUT (Knee)
These two teams love going at each other. There’s a consistent chipiness that exists between the Blazers and the Wolves. It makes for very enjoyable basketball which is something Wolves fans have experienced in limited doses so far this season. As of now, the Blazers are a more stable and better organized squad. Outside of a monster game from both Towns and Wiggins, the Wolves will fall 118-114.