Warriors vs. Timberwolves (8 ET, NBA TV)
It may be a stretch to say the Warriors are "struggling," considering they enter the matchup on Friday night with an NBA-best 52-12 record. But by their own lofty standards, things could be better. Meanwhile, the Timberwolves are making a late playoff push and seem to have found sound footing defensively.
Warriors streaking ... the wrong way
Golden State is in the midst of the portion of their schedule that coach Steve Kerr referred to as "insane," including a game at Atlanta, then at home two days later against Boston, then this game two days later at Minnesota, with a game the following night in San Antonio. And they get to navigate these waters without Kevin Durant, who was leading the team in points (25.3) and rebounds (8.2) when he went down with a knee injury. Counting the Washington game when Durant was injured, the Warriors have lost three of their last five games, including two consecutive games for the first time in two years.
Timberwolves on the prowl
The NBA trade deadline came and went without the Wolves making any major moves, and as they try and catch the eighth-seed Denver Nuggets and make the Western Conference playoffs, they appear to be digging in on the defensive end of the floor. The Wolves have won three of their last four games, only losing to the Spurs in overtime. In those four games, they haven't allowed an opponent to score over 100 points. The Timberwolves enter this game against Golden State with a 26-37 record, two losses behind Denver for the eight spot.
Can Chef Curry get cooking?
Steph Curry won the last two Kia MVP awards, but this season he seems to have taken more of a supporting role behind new teammate Durant. Curry has still been terrific this season, averaging 24.9 points a game through his first 63 games. But he's shooting a career-low 39.7 percent from behind the 3-point line this season, and has made just 17 of his last 68 attempts. While Curry is too good of a shooter to remain in a rut for too long, Golden State could certainly use a breakout game sooner than later.
Wizards vs Kings (10:30 ET, NBA TV)
The Wizards have gotten stronger as the season has gone along, and after a 2-8 start have gone 37-16 since. They're currently a strong three-seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, tied with the Celtics in the loss column and have a chance at moving up even higher. Meanwhile, the Kings are testing the addition by subtraction theory, having traded All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins and looking to change perceptions of the franchise.
Washington's backcourt was always going to be their strength, but point guard John Wall has been better than anyone predicted, creating legitimate Most Valuable Player conversation. Through his first 61 games, Wall is averaging a career-best 22.8 points per game and 10.8 assists per game. With electric speed and a focus on getting out in transition, Washington will go as far as Wall can carry them.
Since Cousins' departure, the Kings haven't quite found their way. After beating Denver in their first post-Boogie game, the Kings enter tonight having lost six straight, including blowing a 28-point lead against the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday. In seven games with the Kings, newly acquired guard Buddy Hield has averaged 12.9 ppg, a bump up from the 8.6 ppg he was averaging with the Pelicans before the trade.
Big Time Bogdanovic
While the Wizards didn't make any huge moves at the trade deadline, they were able to bolster their bench by striking a deal with Brooklyn to get forward Bojan Bogdanovic. In eight games with the Wizards, Bogdanovic has been superb, averaging 16.5 ppg off the bench and shooting a blistering 54.8 percent on just over five 3-point attempts per game. If he can sustain this production, Bogdanovic may turn out to be the jewel of the trade deadline moves.
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