February 24, 2018, 6:20 pm
While the news of Jimmy Butler remains on everyone’s mind, the Wolves must have a short memory and take care of business on their home court.
With or without Butler, the importance of the next two games for the Wolves matters just the same. The schedule really tightens up in the weeks ahead, with eight straight games versus teams currently above .500 and four of them coming on the road.
Their next two games are versus the last-place Bulls and the last-place Kings, though, giving the Wolves two favorable matchups ahead of the big grind. There’s no automatic wins in this league, but these next two are about as winnable as it gets.
The Wolves allowed the Kings to hang in much too long in the last meeting, and they lost to the Bulls before the All-Star break on the road. That simply cannot happen again. Every win down the stretch matters, and every loss could be the difference.
In the last meeting versus the Bulls, the Wolves were at the mercy of Zach LaVine and his quest for revenge. He scored 35 points and hit the game-winning shot against his first team and looked every bit of his former, healthy self.
Of course Butler scored 38 points for the Wolves that night, though it wasn’t enough.
Outside of LaVine the Wolves did an okay job of limiting the supporting cast. The Bulls only made 9-of-26 3-pointers, which is normally a big portion of their game. Robin Lopez scored 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting, but it looks like the Bulls are going to sit him the rest of the season as they are committed to a youth movement.
It’s not always the case that teams going all-in on youth get worse, and the Bulls do have a nice young core of players thanks to the Wolves.
In fact, this time around the Wolves will get a full look on the future they traded away with Kris Dunn set to play along side LaVine and Lauri Markkanen. Dunn missed the last meeting between these teams and, like LaVine, will be on a mission to prove the Wolves wrong.
In addition to Lopez seeing limited (if any) time down the stretch, the Bulls are also easing up on Justin Holiday’s minutes in favor of David Nwaba. Young teams can be dangerous as they’re out to prove their value, but mistakes will happen. It will be up to the Wolves to keep focused and capitalize on their youth despite all the current distractions.
LaVine was the only real unstoppable player for the Bulls. He’ll be on another revenge game, this time in from of his beloved Wolves’ fans who haven’t forgotten him. He’ll certainly want to put on a show in his old stomping grounds.
Andrew Wiggins seemed to have a better time containing LaVine than when Butler was guarding him, and given Butler’s status Wiggins will likely be the one Thibs turns to.
Not only will Wiggins need to step up defensively, he suddenly gets thrust back into the spotlight of the offense after taking a major back seat this season. Towns will take some of the load, as will Teague, but Wiggins is the main perimeter option and will slide into many of the sets Thibs draw up for Jimmy.
The news of Butler stings but Wiggins can help ease the pain with a statement game tonight.
Jeff Teague – PG
Andrew Wiggins – SG
Nemanja Bjelica – SF
Taj Gibson – PF
Karl-Anthony Towns – C
Kris Dunn – PG
Zach LaVine – SG
Davis Nwaba – SF
Lauri Markkanen – PF
Cristiano Felicio – C
Jimmy Butler (knee) – OUT
Justin Holiday (rest) – QUESTIONABLE
Robin Lopez (rest) – QUESTIONABLE
Paul Zipser (foot) – QUESTIONABLE
Where: Target Center, Minneapolis, MN
When: 9:00 ET/8:00 CT
How: Fox Sports North
April 1, 2020, 7:54 pmRomello WhitePF, College
Romello White declared for the 2020 NBA Draft on Wednesday.
White is "keeping his options available" despite declaring for the draft. It is probably a good idea considering he isn't a lock to be drafted. The junior power forward averaged 10.2 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks for Arizona State this past season. He isn't likely to be on the fantasy radar even if he does earn a roster spot in the NBA.
Source: Jon Rothstein on Twitter
April 1, 2020, 3:53 pmKevin DurantSF, Brooklyn Nets
The four players from the Nets who tested positive for COVID-19 are symptom free after passing a 14-day protocol but are still self-isolating, according to Greg Logan of Newsday.
Logan went on to say that the entire traveling party for the Nets are healthy at the moment. This is a good sign to see players and staff recovering from the virus without any new cases reported.
Source: Greg Logan on Twitter
March 31, 2020, 9:05 pmMarcus SmartPG, Boston Celtics
Marcus Smart plans to donate his blood plasma to the National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project for research on how the virus affects the blood of those infected or have been infected already, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
This marks an interesting end (fingers-crossed) to Smart's coronavirus infection and subsequent quarantine. Only five NBA players have received confirmed positive tests for COVID-19 but the NBA obviously isn't taking any chances during this global pandemic. With speed being medical professionals' biggest pressure with regards to a vaccine, Smart really stepped up to the plate. Hopefully other public figures who have recovered from the virus will follow his lead in donating necessary items for research. This also doesn't hurt Smart's public image, which has been known to fluctuate dramatically during his college and professional career.
Source: Shams Charania on Twitter
March 31, 2020, 8:44 pmJeremy LinPG, International
The Chinese government has stopped the CBA (Chinese Basketball Association) from resuming their season, nearly two months after halting their season due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19.
The CBA does not currently have a players' union, so these types of sweeping decisions can happen more quickly than in the United States, where the players are unionized. While this is not great news for basketball players and fans in China, it also has global ramifications for sports across the world looking for a timeline. Everyone is wondering when it will be safe to resume or begin athletic events. Executives are trying to handle the logistics of said decisions, which is much more of a slippery slope. It seems increasingly obvious that the NBA is nowhere near a return to action and currently the situation is still completely out of commissioner Adam Silver's hands.
Source: CBS Sports
March 31, 2020, 8:18 pmLeBron JamesSF, Los Angeles Lakers
The entire Lakers roster has been deemed symptom-free of the coronavirus after completing a 14-day home isolation that was prescribed by team doctors, according to Lakers reporter Mike Trudell.
Finally, some good news for the NBA. The Lakers were isolated two weeks ago and they all maintained quarantine in their homes. The league has yet to announce plans as far as next steps for potentially resuming the 2019-20 season, but this is a good start. More teams should complete quarantine periods in the coming weeks. It doesn't help that professional basketball's return in China was halted abruptly after they had planned on making a return earlier this week. This is obviously a very fluid situation and NBA commissioner Adam Silver must bide his time before making concrete decisions. Stay tuned.
Source: Mike Trudell on Twitter
March 31, 2020, 3:47 pmClint CapelaC, Atlanta Hawks
According to Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlantic Journal Constitution, Clint Capela had been progressing towards participating in half-court workouts prior to the season being suspended.
There was some uncertainty surrounding Capela's potential return this season, but now he will have a much better shot at getting a few games below his belt before the conclusion of the season. If Capela does indeed find himself on the court for a few games, we'd have to imagine that he will be on a strict minutes limit as Lloyd Pierce alluded to last month.
Source: Atlantic Journal Constitution
March 31, 2020, 3:31 pmCameron JohnsonSF, Phoenix Suns
Cameron Johnson is fully cleared from mononucleosis that he has been battling for the past few weeks.
Johnson missed the final three games before the league was suspended due to mononucleosis, but will be ready to go when the season starts up again. Johnson was looking at an expanded role with Kelly Oubre Jr. injured, but there is now a chance that Oubre Jr. will be ready a situation to monitor when the season gets ready to resume.
Source: The Athletic
March 31, 2020, 3:23 pmJoe HarrisSF, Brooklyn Nets
Joe Harris said that he would like to re-sign with the Nets this summer.
When Harris was asked if he would like to play with the Nets next season, he replied, “Yeah, definitely! Why wouldn’t you?" The Nets will have Harris' Bird Rights and will certainly like to bring him back, but Harris will be a highly-coveted free agent this summer and will be looking to cash in on what is seen as a weaker free agent class.
Source: New York Post
March 31, 2020, 3:16 pmJonathan IsaacPF, Orlando Magic
Jonathan Isaac has been continuing his rehab work from a severe knee sprain amid the NBA hiatus.
Isaac has been out since early in the calendar year after suffering a left knee sprain and bone bruise. The NBA denied the Magic a Disabled Player Exception earlier in the year, as doctors believed that Isaac wouldn't be out until mid June. Isaac was a long shot to return by the playoffs, but the hiatus has given him a better chance to return and potentially be ready for the start of the playoffs. This is an interesting watch as we continue to wait for the NBA, and life in general, to resume as normal.
Source: The Athletic
March 30, 2020, 9:00 pmLeBron JamesSF, Los Angeles Lakers
The New York Post's Marc Berman reports that the NBA's best-case scenario is looking like a late June to early July brief regular season restart with a one-site, 16-team playoff, possibly with each series a best-of-three.
He mentions that a league official said that nothing is off the table, so we're far away from anything definitive. There is still obviously a chance that the season gets cancelled, but the league is "very determined to have a champion". Don't expect anything to be determined for many weeks, if not months.
Source: The New York Post