The combination of Tom Thibodeau and another year of seasoning for their talented young core was cause to think this could be the season the Timberwolves would make the long-awaited leap back into the postseason.
20 games in and it looks like those notions were a tad premature. Thibodeau’s defensive principles are yet to sink in with his new team, who’s currently 25th in the league in defensive rating. His fingerprints are all over the minutes being played by his three stars, with Karl-Anthony Towns (34.8), Andrew Wiggins (36.5) and Zach LaVine (37.2) all getting as much run as they can handle.
And that trio is producing, averaging over 60 points combined per contest. Towns alone had 47 and 18 last week against the Knicks. The only problem is it didn’t result in a win, and that’s mostly been the story through their disappointing, 6-14 start (for some extracurricular reading, FiveThirtyEight looked at their historically bad play in the third quarter, which has been their undoing in a lot of those losses).
That said, the Wolves are coming off an impressive come-from-behind win in Charlotte a few days ago, which some think could be the shift in fortune they were needing. Me, however, I’m not interested in any juju that’s not to do with the Spurs’ charmed ways on the road (12 in a row!).
San Antonio Spurs (17-4) at Minnesota Timberwolves (6-14)
Dec. 6, 2016 | 7:00 CST
Watch: FSSW | NBA TV
Listen: 1200 AM WOAI
Spurs injuries: Tony Parker (knee)
Timberwolves injuries: Nikola Pekovic (ankle), Brandon Rush (toe)
Matching up with Minnesota’s athleticism on a SEGABABA
For the second night in a row, the Spurs will need to contend with a group of athletes that could’ve been grown in a lab.
Towns can shoot from deep, or he can take a few dribbles in and cross over into a jumper, or he can simply take the ball all the way to the hoop. Andrew Wiggins’ three-point shot has made him a more complete threat. Zach LaVine can bounce his way to almost whatever shot he wants on the floor. Rookie Kris Dunn has a special combination of size and skills. We’ll see how fatigue factors into the Spurs’ effort as they try to stay in front of these guys.
A collision with Matthew Dellavedova ended Parker’s night in Milwaukee, and it’ll likely keep him out of this one. That means more opportunities for Nicolas Laprovittola to show out, and a chance for Patty Mills to bounce back from his 0-8 performance against the Bucks.
The Spurs are one of best in the the league’s at keeping opponents off the line. The T-Wolves take the second-most attempts from the stripe. Something’s gotta give.
Vegas line: Spurs by 4.
Game prediction: Spurs by 6.
For the Timberwolves fans' perspective, visit Canis Hoopus.
As always Tony must dominate Fisher.
PtR's Gamethread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action through PtR's Twitter feed.