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Scouting Report | Wolves at Pacers

by Katie Davidson
Digital Content Associate

The Game

Wednesday night’s game against the Pacers didn’t go the Timberwolves’ way, but they have a chance to even their home-to-home series against Indiana on Friday.

The Pacers defeated the Wolves 104-99 at Target Center on Wednesday, and the two teams will face off once again at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Friday at 6 p.m. CT.

The Wolves are now 15-25, good for 12th in the Western Conference. Wednesday’s win improved the Pacers’ record to 26-15, and they’re still sitting at fifth in the East.

This is the Wolves’ final home-to-home series of the 2019-20 season. Both teams got a good idea of what the other brought to the table on Wednesday, but Thursday’s news that Jeff Teague and Treveon Graham have been traded to Atlanta for Allen Crabbe will throw a slight curveball into both teams’ scouting reports. Crabbe might not be available for Friday’s game considering the quick turnaround, but regardless, here’s what we know needs to improve before the Wolves take a stab at the Pacers again.

First and foremost, the Wolves have to limit Domantas Sabonis’ offensive production, which they were able to do more so in the second half of Wednesday’s game. Sabonis finished with 29 points — 25 of which came in the first half — on 13-for-17 shooting from the field and a game-high 13 rebounds.

The Wolves recorded 19 assists in the first half of Wednesday’s game but only assisted seven second-half buckets. After the game, Wolves head coach Ryan Saunders said the Wolves attempted to run side pick-and-rolls to get the Pacers’ defense moving side to side in the second half but that he was unsatisfied with his team’s execution. More ball movement will be key in Friday’s game.

What: Wolves at Pacers
When: 6 p.m. CT, Friday, Jan. 17
Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Watch: Fox Sports North
Listen: 830 WCCO

Bench Production

The Wolves’ bench outscored the Pacers’ reserves 39-26 Wednesday night, and it was the fifth game in a row in which Minnesota’s bench outscored its opponent’s.

Keita Bates-Diop led the bench’s charge on Wednesday by recording 15 points, going 2-for-3 from 3-point range and 5-for-5 from the free-throw line in less than 18 minutes of action. No other Wolves player shot more than two free throws. Bates-Diop also added six rebounds (best of bench players), three assists and one block.

Naz Reid had a quieter offensive night on Wednesday compared to Monday night when he dropped a team-high 20 points against the Thunder, but he was in all three three-player lineups that had a team-best plus-minus rating of plus-6.

Would You Believe Me If I Told You . . .

All opposing offenses should fear the defensive nuisance that is Robert Covington.

Covington has recorded 67 total steals (tied for fourth-best in the league) this season and is eighth in steals per game (1.7). Covington has recorded 23 of his steals in the Wolves’ last eight games and is averaging just under three steals per game during that time. That’s insane. No other player in the league has recorded more than 16 steals during their last eight games.

Injury Report:

Wolves: Karl-Anthony Towns (knee/illness) is questionable. Jake Layman (toe) is out.

Pacers: Victor Oladipo (knee) is out.

Probable Starters:

Wolves: PG—Napier, SG—Culver, SF—Wiggins, PF—Covington, C—Dieng

Pacers: PG—Brogdon, SG—Lamb, SF—Warren, PF—Sabonis, C—Turner

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