Minnesota Timberwolves game previews between November 7 and November 13, including games against: Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Orlando Magic.
After another tough week, the 1-4 Minnesota Timberwolves enter their third week looking to reverse a few trends. The most important of which is eliminating the third quarter woes. In multiple games now the Wolves have held a first-half lead of eighteen—a notable margin; one does not stumble upon an eighteen-point lead. But consistently the starters have failed to protect the lead in the third quarter (with the exception against a depleted Grizzlies roster) leaving the Wolves in an early season hole.
Furthermore, Ricky Rubio will miss the first two games of the week, and then will be reevaluated when the team returns home for the Clippers matchup. While in his brief absence rookie Kris Dunn has been a defensive force, Rubio still holds the drivers key behind a productive Wolves offense.
With four games in six days, the Wolves will be put under duress, but these matchups will prove critical. If this young roster remains set on playoff contention, they need to execute for four quarters and avoid digging themselves into any deeper of a hole.
Tuesday, 8 November 2016 at 07:30 PM ET Away
Despite bottom-dwelling expectations, Coach Kenny Atkinson had the Brooklyn Nets playing competitive basketball in his first two weeks. The quartet of Booker, Bogdonavic, Lopez, and Lin were playing cohesive basketball, and then Jeremy Lin suffered a hamstring injury. Now, Atkinson will be forced to step back to square one.
Lin is the only established shot-creating guard on this roster—and without him expect the offense to continually stall out. Surely, Thibs will plan to stomp on the Nets offense at its head and let Dunn wreck havoc on the opposing guards.
Wednesday, 9 November 2016 at 07:00 PM ET Away
Another muddled opponent for the Wolves. While the Magic took a few in a row, their Monday night blowout at the hands of the Chicago Bulls further manifests their struggles against competent opponents.
The Magic restructured this offseason bringing in a gluttony of big men to complement their offensively-inept guards and wings. This team is a structural mess, but behind new head coach Frank Vogel, it has the potential to become a defensively elite roster.
Look for the Wolves to suffocate Evan Fournier, dare Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon to shoot, and have a low-scoring interior battle in Orlando.
Los Angeles Clippers
Saturday, 12 November 2016 at 08:00 PM ET Home
The Wolves return home for back-to-back matchups with two fierce Los Angeles teams. Since Doc River’s arrival, the Clippers have been a perennial resident to the NBA’s second-tier, but they may finally feature the depth to enter the top tier conversation. As of now, the Clippers are playing elite basketball—they are winning competitive games and obliterating weaker competition.
Look for the Wolves to try and make this a dogfight. The Clippers will be in their second of back-to-back road games, after a Friday night showdown in Oklahoma City. The Wolves should have the strength to contain the frontcourt of Jordan and Griffin, the energy to handle a deep Clippers roster, and if they can manage to keep up with CP3, Reddick and 6th man Jamal Crawford, they may be able to squeak out at an underdog win at home.
Los Angeles Lakers
Sunday, 13 November 2016 at 07:00 PM ET Home
To finish the week, the Wolves face the NBA’s most surprising story of the season: The Los Angeles Lakers. While smart money still has the Lakers finishing outside of the playoff race, thus far, first-time head coach Luke Walton has his young core playing inspired basketball.
After Metta World Peace’s outburst at the free throw line—“I Love Basketball”—it surfaced that Walton has actually set the team motto as “I Love Basketball.” Veteran Lou Williams would reportedly “run through a brick wall for him” and Nick Young is playing basketball for reasons beyond ‘strictly buckets.’ Amazing.
This matchup features two teams of the future that are pushing impatient fan bases. From potential superstars in KAT and Ingram to top tier complements in Wiggins and Russell, this matchup has plenty of talent. Let’s see which new head coach can best put it all together.