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Game Preview: Timberwolves vs. Wizards
Monday, March 13, 2017 at 7:00 p.m at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota
The Wolves will look to continue to build on an extremely promising start to March against the white-hot Washington Wizards in their second meeting this season. Minnesota is 3-2 to start the month, with one of their losses coming in overtime against the Spurs, and the other on the second night of a back-to-back against Milwaukee after pulling off a nail-biter against the Warriors.
Washington has found a way to skyrocket itself from one of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference (they started the season 3-9, including losses to Orlando and Philadelphia), to the second best team in the East, sitting only 2 games back from Cleveland for the number one spot. The Wizards have won 7 of their last 8 and will be the best indicator if the Wolves recent play against the upper echelon of the Western Conference was just a fleeting fad or something for the team to continue to build on.
PG: Ricky Rubio #9
SG: Brandon Rush #4
SF: Andrew Wiggins #22
PF: Gorgui Dieng #5
C: Karl-Anthony Towns #32
PG: John Wall #2
SG: Bradley Beal #3
SF: Otto Porter #22
PF: Markieff Morris #5
C: Marcin Gortat #13
Timberwolves: Nikola Pekovic – out/season (recurring ankle pain), Zach LaVine – out/season – (Torn left ACL), Adreian Payne – probable (illness)
The Wolves and Wizards last faced off in the early part of January, with the Wizards pulling out a frustrating win versus a floundering Minnesota team.
Washington seemed to be pulling a way at the half, leading 48-56, but surprisingly strong 3rd quarter saw the Wolves take an 85-80 lead going into the 4th. The lead went back and forth until the final 2 minutes, when a series of misses from Andrew Wiggins allowed Washington a chance to build a sizable advantage. Despite his struggles in the closing moments, Andrew Wiggins was an absolute monster. He finished the game with 41 points on 16-30. Towns was also solid, posting a 18-10-5 line. The real problem on the offensive end was Zach Lavine. He was a black hole shooting the ball, scoring only 8 points on 3-14 shooting and finishing the night -18. Many have noticed how well the Wolves have played as of late following the Lavine injury, and a big factor is Zach can become useless when his shooting stroke is broken like it was tonight.
All five of the Wizards starters scored 15 or more points, and much of the esteem can be given to John Wall, who was credited with an unbelievable 18 assists. His court vision was astounding and easily led to a Washington win, 105-112. Following this matchup, the Wizards would win 13 of their next 15.
With no Zach Lavine this time around it will be interesting to see how Thibs staggers the lineups. Bjelica has been hot and cold during March, sometimes showing his timidity on offense, while Shabazz will look to bounce back after a disappointing Bucks showing following an excellent start to the month. Look for Andrew Wigggins to take a lot of shots again. The Wizards don’t have a wing player that can contain him, especially when he works his magic down low.
The Wolves playoff chances are looking slimmer every day. They currently sit 4 games back from Denver, still behind Portland and Dallas for the 8th seed. Denver plays Los Angeles tonight, and barring a catastrophe it should be an easy win. With 16 games left in the season Minnesota would need to have their strongest finish to the year since the Wiggins era started. We’ll see if this team has the ability to step up shortly.
TV: Fox Sports North – Dave Benz (play-by-play), Jim Peterson (analyst)
Radio: 830 WCCO-AM – Alan Horton (play-by-play)
(All stats found on nba.com, and basketball-reference.com)