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Wizards finish back-to-back road trip in Minnesota
The Wizards dropped a heartbreaker on Friday night in Charlotte after battling back late in the fourth quarter to briefly lead. It was a critical game for playoff positioning, as the other two teams immediately ahead of Washington (Orlando and Miami) also won Friday. Bradley Beal and co. will need to have a short memory, as they’ll be right back at it Saturday night in Minnesota to take on the Timberwolves. In second games of back-to-backs this season, the Wizards are 8-3 entering play Saturday.
Target Center | 8:00 P.M. ET | NBC Sports Washington | 1500 AM
Wizards: G – Tomas Satoransky, G – Bradley Beal, F – Trevor Ariza, F – Jeff Green, C – Bobby Portis
Timberwolves: G – Jeff Teague, G – Josh Okogie, F – Andrew Wiggins, F – Dario Saric, C – Karl-Anthony Towns
Wizards: Dwight Howard (L4-L5 lumbar microdiscectomy procedure – out), John Wall (left achilles tendon tear – out)
Timberwolves: Robert Covington (right knee bone bruise – out), Luol Deng (sore left achilles – doubtful)
Seems like just last week...
Just six days ago, the Wizards earned a 135-121 victory over the Timberwolves in D.C. Bobby Portis led the way with 26 points and 12 rebounds, while Bradley Beal and Jabari Parker both added 22. Portis paced Washington in scoring in Friday night’s loss as well, saying after the game that his comfort level with his still new teammates is getting better with every game. The biggest key to victory last weekend in Washington was the discrepancy from beyond the 3-point arc, where the Wizards hit 11 triples to Minnesota’s four. But road wins have been hard to come by for both teams this season, and the T’Wolves have thrived at home like Washington, taking a 21-10 record on their home court into Saturday’s game. Remarkably, the Wizards and Wolves have alternated wins in their last 19 meetings dating back to March of 2009.
Play to your strengths
When the Wizards and Timberwolves met last weekend, Washington capitalized on 12 Minnesota turnovers for 21 points while committing just nine for seven points themselves. The Wizards have scored off of opponent miscues well all season, and their 18.8 points per game off of turnovers rank fourth in the league. At 13.2 turnovers per game, the T’Wolves commit the fourth fewest turnovers in the NBA.
Karl-Anthony Towns leads an impressive offensive rebounding effort nightly, as Minnesota ranks third in the NBA in offensive boards and first in second chance points per game (15.7). Towns’ 24.2 points and 12.2 rebounds per game will be the Wizards’ main concern, as he’s out-performed those impressive season averages significantly of late. He’s scored 34.4 points per contest in the T’Wolves’ past five games, though they’ve only won one of their last five.
Playoff positioning update
With all three teams ahead of the Wizards winning on Friday night, Washington now sits four games behind No. 8 Miami and three behind No. 9 Orlando and No. 10 Charlotte with 17 games remaining in the season. The Wizards have their final head-to-head meetings with the Hornets and Magic next week at home in D.C.