With the San Antonio Spurs hitting the road for a matchup against the Minnesota Timberwolves, I talked to fellow The Sports Daily network site operator David Pan, editor and owner of Howlin’ T-Wolf to help me preview tonight’s game and get a closer look at the Timberwolves.
Make sure to visit Howlin’ T-Wolf and listen to The Howl podcast for more Timberwolves coverage.
Currently the Spurs and Wolves sit on opposite ends of the Western Conference, and the Wolves have a lot of ground to make up if they hope to make the playoffs. How important is it to win games against top-seeded teams like the Spurs as they get close to that final push?
That’s a good question, but let’s preface that question with a reality check. The Timberwolves are 28-41. They’re on a three-game losing streak. They lost to the Pelicans, who have struggled mightily after acquiring DeMarcus Cousins. If other teams could beat the Pelicans, the Timberwolves could have as well. But they didn’t, and so their losing streak continues.
On the other hand, they have shown that they could beat top seeds this season. They won against the Warriors, the Clippers, the Wizards–the Jazz! The Jazz are solid, but underrated. So what does this all mean? The Timberwolves have been playing streaky basketball all season. And with their three-game losing streak, I expect their inconsistent plays to continue.
Now to answer your question, how important is it to win games against top-seeded teams? It’s not just important; it’s essential if they’re going to make the playoffs. Let’s see what happens tomorrow against the Spurs.
Karl-Anthony Towns is seeing a big stat increase pretty much across the board this season, and he’s been hot lately, scoring over 30 points in four of the last five games. However, in their three meetings so far this season, the Spurs have been able to make him work a little harder equaling to a lower than average field goal percentage. What do you expect to see from Towns as Aldridge, Dedmon and Gasol look to limit his productivity?
I expect Towns to play aggressively, as always. Listen, Towns is still young. I mean really young. He’s the 2017 version of KG, but even better than KG in his prime. There are times where he’s a one man wrecking ball, for sure, and so I expect the Spurs to utilize their big man to limit him. But does that mean Towns will back down? No. He’s going to play aggressively, pass the ball when he needs to.
That’s what makes him great. He has great basketball IQ. And a lot of common sense.
There are many parallels between Kawhi Leonard’s and Andrew Wiggins’ offensive games. How do you expect that matchup to play out?
I am biased, of course, so I expect Wiggins to have a better game than Kawhi. You are right, there are a lot of similarities between Wiggins. Their jump shots look similar to me. But overall, I expect both guys to score a lot of points tomorrow. It’s going to be a fun matchup.
When the Timberwolves drafted Kris Dunn, they did so expecting that he’d be ready for the starting point guard role sooner than later, but that hasn’t seemed to pan out. Is Tyus Jones really the future at pg, or is Dunn just going to need more seasoning?
Dunn definitely needs more seasoning. In the D-League. When you have Rubio lighting up the assist board and running the offense, guess where Dunn is? On the bench. Dunn cannot grow as a player on the bench. He needs to play, and with the Wolves holding onto Rubio at the trade deadline, Thibs clearly has more confidence in him than Dunn. At least for now.
So Dunn needs to get more playing time. Where’s the best place for Dunn to grow? The D-League.
As for Tyus Jones…he’s a controllable player off the bench. He has shown flashes of brilliance but as long as Rubio is the starting PG, Tyus will stay on the bench.
What are your thoughts on the Omri Casspi signing, and how do you think he’ll help with the injury to Nmenja Bjelica?
Just a better version of Bjelica. Slightly better. Keep in mind that he’s going to be a free agent and if the Wolves don’t make the playoffs, they at least tried by signing him.
I would like to see the Wolves resign him, but remember: other teams were looking at Casspi as well. When he’s a free agent, Thibs won’t be the only one who’ll be out dining with him. Like he did in New Orleans the other night. Casspi will have options, and more options means competitive offers.
Does Minnesota end their three-game skid at home tomorrow or will it be the start of a two-game streak for the Spurs?
I think the Wolves will struggle tomorrow against the Spurs, but the Timberwolves tend to play better against teams with better records. Not sure why, maybe the Timberpups want to impress Thibs. Who knows. The best way to impress Thibs, in my opinion, is to win–or to lose trying. Go Wolves!