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Scouting Report | Wolves vs. Cavaliers

by Kyle Ratke, Digital Content Manager

Digital Content Manager

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Monday
Wolves vs. Cavaliers, 7:00 p.m.
FS North, 830 WCCO

Why you should be at Target Center:

Jimmy Butler vs. LeBron James.

That’s an enticing matchup.

Somehow, we are seeing peak LeBron at age 33. I wrote about him the New Year’s article, but he’s averaging 27.6 points (highest since 2009-10), 8.2 rebounds and a career-high 9.1 assists per game this season. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?

James has the Cavaliers off to a 26-13 record, third in the East. Cleveland has struggled a bit recently, though, losing five of its last six road games.

Meanwhile, Butler has the Wolves at 25-16 overall, on pace for 50 wins and fourth in the Western Conference. Butler has straight-up changed the culture in Minnesota. On the season, he’s averaging 21.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.9 steals. He’s coming off a crazy-good month of December in which he averaged 26.5 points per game while shooting 50.6 percent from the field.

We’ll see how much these two match up against each other, but if I had to guess, Butler and James will guard each other, while Taj Gibson and Jae Crowder will go at it.

Cleveland has plenty of other pieces to keep on eye on, too, like Dwyane Wade, J.R. Smith, and that Kevin Love guy that Minnesota fans might be familiar with.

Opposing player I’ll be watching:

Isaiah Thomas will play in his third game of the season on Monday night after missing the previous 36 with hip surgery. Thomas is the forgotten piece of the Kyrie Irving deal which seems silly considering he scored 28 points per game last season.

Thomas has played about 20 minutes per contest and has averaged 18 points per game while shooting 13-for-25 from the field and 5-for-12 from deep. Thomas is a great scorer, despite his size. He does stuff like this which seems normal, but it’s not-so-normal when you consider he’s a half foot shorter than most of his opponents.

 Minnesota’s Tyus Jones, who has been solid filling in for Jeff Teague, will certainly have his hands full.

Injuries:

Cavs: Derrick Rose (ankle) is doubtful. Iman Shumpert (knee) is out.

Wolves: Point guard Jeff Teague is out.

Starting Lineups:

Cavs: PG – Thomas, SG – Smith, SF – Crowder, PF – James, C - Love

Wolves: PG – Jones, SG – Wiggins, SF – Butler, PF – Gibson, C - Towns