by Ya Mudda
Tonight the Timberwolves play host to the Portland Trailblazers, who are coming off an exceptional win against an Indiana Pacers team that has established themselves as one of the premier teams in the eastern conference thanks to the resurgence of Paul George. The Timberwolves on the other hand have not played a game in three days since they lost to the Orlando Magic. It was a tough night for a young wolves team that came out of the tunnel looking flat hitting just 2 of their first 14 shots and eventually falling behind by seventeen only to fight their way back and tie the game in the fourth quarter with 4:30 left.
The Trailblazers had been struggling against good teams leading up the win against the Pacers and came in to the game 2-3 in their last five games, and factoring in that both wins were against the lowly Lakers, that’s not saying much. However against the Pacers they caught fire shooting 18-36 from 3, which included a 4-5 effort from Allen Crabbe. So far for the year this has been the Trailblazers’ strategy, just bomb away from deep, with C.J. McCollum and Damien Lillard in the backcourt it’s no wonder why they are have adopted this. The Blazers are giving up 102 points per game and they don’t have any standout defensive players so this one could end up turning into a shootout.
The Timberwolves are nursing a two game losing streak and look to right the ship tonight against the Blazers. With the return of Rubio, who seems to be injured every other game; the defense has tightened up. Rubio boasts a defensive rating of 96 and tonight will be a challenge for him to contain Lillard. The Timberwolves offense is where the worry is, outside of Wiggins the young pups struggle mightily to score. They don’t attack the paint and they don’t get out in transition, against the magic they were outscored 42-32 in the paint and they posted just 7 fast break points, it also doesn’t help much that they continue to refuse to shoot the 3 ball. Against the Magic, it was Wiggins and Martin that helped to spur the comeback, with Wiggins coming up big shooting 9-15 and Martin just 4-9 but 2-2 from 3 (Let the man shoot damnit!)
Clearly this one is going to be a battle between two very contrasting teams offensively, the Blazers are going to jack up shots at an alarming rate from deep while the Wolves will meander on offense and take long 2s. If the Blazers come out hot once again they could potentially put the Wolves in a hole from early one. But with Rubio patrolling the perimeter, I expect him to contain Lillard and just hope that Martin can contest most of McCollum’s shots.
Matchups to watch:
Wiggins vs. Aminu: Al-Farouq Aminu is a pretty good defender in his own right even though the stats aren’t kind to him; he is no turnstile on defense and will stay with Wiggins most of the time. Andrew has proven that he is going to be the one carrying the offense this year and I expect him to continue the good work tonight.
Towns vs. Plumlee: KARL is going to eat tonight. He’s fresh off collecting the Rookie of the month award for November and from the way things are looking he’s a lock right now to win rookie of the year Expect Karl to show out tonight, Plumlee is bit slow I wouldn’t expect him to keep up with Karl. This one is going to be one way like a drive through.
Lavine vs. Crabbe: Against the magic Lavine was pedestrian at best going 4-13 from the field including 0-5 from 3, and here I was thinking he was turning the corner, actually no I wasn’t I knew this was coming. Crabbe’s just a shooter at this point; all Zach has to do is stay with him and contest a shot, that’s it. Let’s not have a repeat of his game against the Pacers and the Timberwolves should win handily. Also making a few shots would be nice, but maybe too much to ask for.