Scouting Report: Wolves at Warriors
Wolves (22-24) at Warriors (18-24) - 9:30 p.m. Oracle Arena
Where to Watch: Fox Sports North
Where to Listen: 830 AM WCCO
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Minnesota coach Rick Adelman stressed the importance of this seven-game road trip before the Timberwolves hit the road last week. Heading into tonight’s matchup against Golden State with a 1-3 record on the trip and dates with San Antonio and Oklahoma City just ahead, the Wolves understand just how important this game is to their season.
When Minnesota and Golden State tip off at 9:30 p.m. at Oracle Arena, the Wolves will be playing not only to end their three-game losing streak. They’ll be looking to find their swagger once again as the playoff push intensifies.
“Every game from now on is a big game for us,” guard JJ Barea said. “If we keep playing the way we are, the season could go down in a hurry.”
The Wolves had won eight of 11 games before their recent skid beginning March 9 against Los Angeles. Since then Minnesota is 1-5 and is coming off perhaps their most difficult defeat of the season, a 115-99 loss to Sacramento on Sunday. But forward Kevin Love said the beauty of the NBA is the fact that there is another game tonight, meaning Minnesota has the chance to move on quickly and get back in the wins column.
Golden State is on a three-game losing streak of its own, most recently falling to the Utah Jazz 99-92 in overtime on Saturday. The Warriors hold a 10-12 record at home this season, while Minnesota is 10-12 on the road.
Key matchup: Love vs. Lee
Wolves forward Kevin Love continues to put up monster numbers game after game this season. He picked up his league-leading 38th double-double on Sunday against the Kings with a 21-point, 11-rebound effort, and he is averaging 29.7 points and 13.1 rebounds per game in March. But with the Wolves currently losing five of their past six, Love’s presence on the floor becomes even more important. The Wolves will look to him not only to continue working his magic on the boards, but his ability to draw fouls and get to the free-throw line as well as efficiently step outside the 3-point arc have all been important facets of Minnesota’s success this season.
In the Bay Area, Warriors forward David Lee has been a consistent part of Golden State’s front court all season. He’s started all 41 games he’s played, averaging 19.1 points and 9.6 boards per game while leading the team in offensive rebounding. Lee is shooting 52.8 percent from the field this month and even though he does not bring the same outside threat Love does, he can get to the line and make free throws. He’s shooting 89 percent from the line this month.
A new look Warriors team
Wolves Minute with John Focke
The Warriors were busy at the trade deadline, making deals that changed the complexion of their team for the second half of the season. Most notably, Golden State traded shooting guard Monta Ellis to the Bucks for center Andrew Bogut, who hasn’t played since Jan. 25 with a fractured left ankle, and Stephen Jackson. They then traded Jackson to San Antonio before the deadline for forward Richard Jefferson, who scored nine points and added seven rebounds in his Warriors debut on Saturday. Ellis was the team’s leading scorer during his 38 games with the Warriors, averaging 21.8 points per game and adding 6.0 assists per night. He had nine 30-point games this season for Golden State, including a 48-point performance against Oklahoma City in February.
The Timberwolves are battling injuries on this seven-game road trip, and it’s causing them to change their approach to games on the fly. On Sunday, Minnesota was without starting center Nikola Pekovic due to a sore right foot, while forward Michael Beasley returned after missing two games with a sore great toe on his left foot. He played 26 minutes and scored 13 points, but Beasley was reportedly sore after the game.
The Warriors are currently without one of their top players, too, as point guard Stephen Curry has missed the past four games with a sprained right ankle. Curry is averaging 14.7 points and 5.3 assists per game this season and is shooting 45.5 percent from 3-point range. In his absence, Nate Robinson has stepped in and taken the bulk of the minutes. He’s averaging 17.5 points and 6.0 assists during that stretch.
Randolph stepping up
Wolves forward Anthony Randolph has played in five games since the beginning of February, but when he was called upon Sunday against Sacramento he made good on his minutes. Randolph picked up significant playing time with the absence of Pekovic, and he proved to be a spark in the first half with his aggressive play on the glass. He finished with 10 points and nine rebounds—six of those boards on the offensive end—and finished 5-of-8 from the field. He also added two assists and a steal.
Minnesota has also gotten steady production offensively out of Martell Webster over the past three games. He's averaging 12.0 points during that stretch, including 14 points against the Kings on Sunday. Over the past three games he is shooting 50 percent from the floor and has hit 4-of-9 from beyond the arc.
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