The Spurs will look to get back on the left side of the win-loss column tonight as they host the cellar-dwelling Timberwolves. A win would do wonders to dim the all-too-vivid memories of a pair of disheartening beat-downs the Grizzlies issued the Silver and Black over the last few days and help prepare the team for three straight games against teams just above them in the playoff race.
But first, the Spurs need to handle business against a Wolves’ squad running well below full strength. Without Karl Anthony-Towns, who has played just 4 games this season, the Wolves have gone 3-13 and been outscored by 11.69 points per 100 possessions. That is shockingly bad, but it’s important to remember that the Spurs are one of those three teams the Timberwolves have beaten without their All-Star big man.
Minnesota Timberwolves (5-15) vs San Antonio Spurs (11-10)
February 3, 2021 | 7:30 PM CT
Watch: FSSW | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs Injuries: LaMarcus Aldridge - out (hip)
Timberwolves Injuries: Karl Anthony-Towns - Out (COVID-19 Protocols), Jarrett Culver - Out (Ankle), Juancho Hernangomez - Questionable (Injury Management)
What to watch for
- The two teams split their back to back contests just over three weeks ago. The Spurs won the first game with both teams close to full strength, but lost the follow-up with both Towns and DeMar DeRozan sitting out. The good guys are back to full strength (UPDATE: LMA is out) for the rubber match, so they should have the advantage.
- The key issue in the Spurs’ last two games was an inability to match the Grizzlies sustained level of intensity. They likely won’t face another team coming off a nearly two week rest that somehow has enough discipline and focus to get right back into the action without missing a beat. Still, outside of Keldon Johnson, whose energy and hustle belong right up there with death and taxes, the Spurs are more than a little hit-and-miss when it comes to finding ways to win on their off nights, an issue exacerbated by the fact that they are rarely able to overwhelm their opponents with sheer talent. They just don’t have much of a margin for error.
- That said, DeMar DeRozan put up his season-high of 38 points in the Spurs’ first matchup with the Timberwolves before missing out on the second. The Wolves had no answers for his relentless attacks and couldn’t keep him away from the rim or off the free throw line. Unless the Wolves adjust their defense to account for him, there’s a good chance DeMar will fill it up again.
- The Spurs next three games are against the Rockets in Houston, then back to back against the Warriors in San Antonio. A solid win against the Timberwolves would go a long way toward setting them up for what could end up being a pivotal stretch in such an abbreviated season.
For the Timberwolves fan’s perspective, please visit Canis Hoopus.
As always, PtR’s Game Thread will be up on the site 30 minutes before tip-off for all who wish to follow along with the game on here!