By: Jonah Sprinkel
What a week it has been for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Since ringing in the Ryan Saunders era with a thrilling win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Wolves have gone 1-2 with a win over New Orleans and the losses coming against Dallas and Philadelphia. The blowout loss to the Sixers, and specifically Jimmy Butler, left a bitter taste in the mouth as the team appeared to have forgotten their effort in Minneapolis. Giving up nearly 150 points to any team is embarrassing. But when it comes against a player like Butler and his tumultuous history with the Wolves? The English language doesn’t have the words to describe how demeaning that kind of loss is. Though injuries have and will continue to hamper this team, consistency in on-court passion and effort would be a large step forward for this squad. It may potentially help secure the head coaching gig for Saunders as well.
What: Spurs @ Wolves
When: 7:00 PM CT
Where: Target Center, Minneapolis
Where to watch: ESPN
Where to listen: 830 AM WCCO
What to watch
Saunders’ defense: Tom Thibodeau’s defense left much to be desired this season. Through four games, the interim head coach’s has left even more to be desired. With nearly a 120-defensive rating, the Wolves are the 28th ranked defense over that period. It’s early in Saunders’ regime and the Robert Covington injury has gauged the core of the Wolves defense, but the quality of defense is unacceptable for any team except those who are tanking.
Spurs’ offense: The Spurs attempt the fewest threes of any team in the NBA. This bodes well for the Wolves as they allow the highest opponent three-point percentage in the league. However, the Spurs also possess the seventh highest offensive rating, 113.4. The other issue for the Wolves is an issue that doesn’t need introduction; their constant struggles with big men. Over the last 10 games, LaMarcus Aldridge is averaging nearly 26 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists and shooting 58.3 percent from the field. The Wolves have their work cut out for them.
The lack of Tyus and RoCo: Tyus Jones will be spending the next few days in a walking boot while Robert Covington still doesn’t have a timetable for his return. Both players are two of the Wolves better contributors through high basketball IQ and play that doesn’t always appear in the box score. Of all the Wolves five-man lineups from this season, five of the top six lineups in net points feature either Jones, Covington or both. The team simply plays better ball with these two in the lineup.
Minnesota: PG Jeff Teague, SG Josh Okogie, SF Andrew Wiggins, PF Taj Gibson, C Karl-Anthony Towns
San Antonio: PG Derrick White, SG Bryn Forbes, SF DeMar DeRozan, PF Rudy Gay, C LaMarcus Aldridge
Minnesota: Tyus Jones - Out, Robert Covington - Out
San Antonio: Dejounte Murray (Torn ACL) - Out
Though the Wolves are favored by 1.5 tonight, I don't expect them to win. This team has continuously struggled in primetime and Towns has always had issues with LaMarcus Aldridge. Wolves fall, 114-108.