For a third time in seven days, the San Antonio Spurs will face the Minnesota Timberwolves. They split the previous two matchups, which most might find surprising given where the two teams were expected to be in the standings come year-end. This is in large part to how great the Spurs are playing together. The constant movement the Spurs are playing with puts a lot of pressure on defenses to communicate properly and move as a unit. In the two games in Minnesota, the Spurs had 37 assists in the first and 34 in the second while on their way to scoring 115 and 122, respectively.
This kind of team play is highlighted by the fact that there were six players in double figures in the first game and seven in the second. While Devin Vassell and Keldon Johnson have been the catalysts, they’re backed up quite well by the rest of the roster. One of the main contributors behind those two has been Jakob Poeltl, who is averaging 15.8 points, 11 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game so far, including racking up a double-double in the last four games. He definitely has his work cut out for him, having to go up against the Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert frontcourt.
The Wolves enter this game having won their last two, beating the Los Angeles Lakers 111-102 on Friday night. Considering it’s still early in the season and the moves they made in the offseason, they’re still working on finding their offensive footing. Still, it’s going to take a team effort to slow them down, and that job is made harder without Vassell.
San Antonio Spurs (4-2) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (4-2)
October 30, 2022 | 6:00 PM CST
Watch: NBA TV or Bally Sports Southwest | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Timberwolves Injuries: Kyle Anderson (Questionable – Back Spasms), Jordan McLaughlin (Questionable – Right Heel Soreness), Luka Garza (Out – G League), Josh Minott (Out – G League), Wendell Moore Jr. (Out – G League)
Spurs Injuries: Josh Richardson (Questionable – Lower Back Tightness), Devin Vassell (Out – Left Knee Soreness), Charles Bassey (Out – G League), Dominick Barlow (Out – G League),
What to Watch for
- Will Keldon Johnson continue his blazing start? So far, he has averaged 23.7 points in five of the first six games, while shooting 42.3% from three on 8.7 attempts per game. If this were to last all season, it would be only the third time a Spur has averaged over 23 points since Tim Duncan’s 2002-03 MVP season. With Vassell out, the brunt of the scoring load falls on his shoulders. And if anybody on this team is strong enough to carry it, it’s the guy nicknamed Big Body.
- Is there any way for the Spurs to slow down Karl-Anthony Towns? Towns has scored over 20 points in his last nine games against the Spurs, which includes his 60-point outburst back in March. While also having to worry about limiting Anthony Edwards, D’Angelo Russell, and after his 23-point game, Jaylen Nowell, it can be tricky for the Spurs to prevent Towns from getting what he wants. The Wolves have a lot of guys that can fill it up, but Towns should be a point of emphasis for the Spurs’ defense.
- How will Blake Wesley continue to fare against NBA competition? The rookie saw his first regular season action against the Chicago Bulls and played pretty well, scoring 10 points and dishing out four assists in his 15 minutes. Odds are, we’ll be seeing a lot more of Wesley in San Antonio than we expected before the season started. How he plays in these opportunities will go a long way in the rebuild the Spurs are currently going through.
- Jeremy Sochan. That’s it. Just Jeremy Sochan. He’s seemingly everywhere when he’s on the court. Cutting, running the floor, guarding multiple positions, getting rebounds, and making the right pass, he’s been such a joy to watch so far, and he’s been showing exactly what made him such an intriguing prospect that was deserving of the ninth pick in the draft.
For the Timberwolves fans’ perspective, visit Canis Hoopus.
The Game Thread will be up this evening for those of you who want to chat throughout the matchup. You can also follow along with the action on PtR’s Twitter feed.