Wolves @ Spurs Gameday

Jonah Ballow
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Wolves vs. Spurs 6 PM - AT&T Center
Where to Listen: 1130 KFAN AM

*Get your questions on the radio airwaves during halftime! Just tweet questions to @WolvesRadio and listen to the halftime show hosted by John Focke on 1130 AM.

Scouting Report:
Big Picture
In the last meeting between Minnesota and San Antonio on December 3, the Spurs snatched a home 107-101 victory to ignite a nine-game winning streak. After dropping two consecutive road contests, the league’s top team jumped back over to the win column by topping Indiana 90-87 on Friday night. At 30-6, San Antonio is the fastest team in the NBA to reach 30 victories and proving all the hype surrounding the Lake Show and Miami’s Big Three as predetermined championship contenders might have been premature. The Spurs return home for a matchup against Minnesota tonight before hitting the road for a trip to the Twin Cities and then Milwaukee on Wednesday.

Last Time Out
San Antonio suffocated Indiana in the fourth quarter of Friday night’s 90-87 win over the Pacers. Only allowing 12 points in the final stanza, the Spurs recorded their eighth straight victory against Indiana.

Minnesota’s lackluster first half defensive performance buried them in a deep hole throughout the contest on Friday. Wesley Matthews sunk seven treys to lift Portland past the Wolves 108-98 and dropped Minnesota to a 9-28 overall mark.

The Numbers Game
Minnesota has only lost by a combined 10 points to San Antonio in the two meetings this season, including an overtime defeat at the Target Center on November 24.

Match-up to Watch
Corey Brewer vs. Manu Ginobili
Matthews received open space to comfortably drill seven 3-pointers in the first half of Friday’s game against the Blazers. Head coach Kurt Rambis placed Corey Brewer with the starters to begin the second half and his mission was clear: Stop Matthews. The defensive-minded shooting guard turned in a brilliant performance in the final 24 minutes by only allowing the Portland offseason acquisition to score seven points. While Brewer’s numbers have dipped this season, he remains a defensive asset and one of the players on the Minnesota roster with the ability to shake up the rhythm of the opposing team. His energy on Friday night and lockdown defensive approach may have earned him a spot back in the starting lineup where he spent all 82 games last season. For most of the game, Brewer’s assignment is the elusive Manu Ginobili. Speaking of the starting lineup, Ginobili is running with the starters to open games this year as opposed to previous years where Spurs head coach Greg Poppovich would bring the dangerous left-hander off the bench. Ginobili is a terrific all-around player, dangerous when driving to the rack and making plays for his teammates or reaching the free throw line (averaging a career-high 5.7 attempts). Brewer has said in the past that he considers Ginobili the most difficult defensive matchup in the entire league.

What to Look For
If Rambis decides to start Brewer tonight, the message will be clear to the entire roster that no job is safe and minutes are at a premium. The head coach does not believe his team plays up or down to its competition but there seems to be a different attitude from the Wolves when they face San Antonio. After two narrow losses this season to the Spurs, expect a strong effort out of a Minnesota squad that has suffered three straight defeats. One of the many keys tonight is keeping San Antonio off the charity stripe. In the two meetings this year, the Spurs have reached the free throw line a jaw-dropping 73 times and connected on 84.9 percent of those attempts.
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