October 24, 2017, 11:30 am
Coming off a thrilling, last second victory in Oklahoma City, the Timberwolves return home to take on the Indiana Pacers.
Andrew Wiggins will look to continue his hot streak. He’s averaging 24.7 points per game, and has been hot from beyond the arc, shooting a career best 42.1 percent, while taking nearly twice as many more per game than last season. His defense has also looked better in the three short games so far.
Will this be the game Jimmy Butler breaks out? So far the Wolves haven’t needed Butler’s offense as much as his defense, but as the season wears on he’s going to need to come around. It’s not a concern at this time, though he seems to be the last newcomer yet to break out. UPDATE: Butler is out for the night with illness. His breakout will have to wait.
Jeff Teague had his best game of the season and was in control of the offense the majority of the time he was on the court. The first two games, him and Butler more or less split time initiating offense, but against the Thunder, Teague took charge more often. Was that part of the game plan, or was it just how things panned out? That dynamic will be something to look out for tonight.
Karl-Anthony Towns will look to start the season with four consecutive double-doubles, but his defense is becoming a growing concern.
The Wolves have now won two in a row versus playoff teams from last season, and face another playoff team in the Pacers, though on paper it seems like the Pacers have downgraded somewhat. Trading Paul George in the offseason signaled a rebuild of the franchise, and so far this season they have started with a 1-2 record.
With George gone, the Pacers have turned to newly acquired Victor Oladipo and third-year big man Myles Turner to lead the youth movement.
Oladipo is averaging 22.3 points per game this season, with 5.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 2.7 steals. As the highest paid player on the roster, the Pacers are giving him the majority of touches on offense. Oladipo is also a steady defender and commonly guards opposing team’s best guards.
Turner is a supremely talented big man. He has great size to play in the post, where he’s extremely efficient, he can step out all the way to the three-point line and hit a shot, he is one of the top big men in free throw shooting (80.9 percent last season), and he is tremendous defensively with excellent mobility and length.
Unfortunately, Turner has missed the past two games with a concussion, and i
t remains to be seen if he’s healthy enough to play tonighthe will be out in tonight’s game. Second year big man Domantas Sabonis has filled in the starting lineup in his absence. Sabonis has had a nice start to the season, and is a threat on the offensive size of the ball.
Newcomer Darren Collison has been the second option on offense with Turner out. As the starting point guard, Collison has averaged 15.0 points, 7.7 assists, 3.3 rebounds, with his typical efficient shooting (56.7 percent overall, 40.0 percent from three-point range).
Collison has been an underrated player for a number of years now, and though he may have lost a step, he still is able to post well-rounded lines and is normally one of the better players on the court.
In their first few games, the Pacers haven’t been afraid to run with three point guards in the lineup at once for significant stretches, with Victor Olidipo, Darren Collison and Cory Joseph out there with Thad Young and Sabonis. Though potentially weaker defensively, this lineup is able to score in bunches.
Will the Wolves respond to this lineup with Crawford in there and put Wiggins at the four? Or will they run big and let Wiggins chase down a point guard? Only Thibs knows for now.
It’s no secret the Pacers are looking to turn up the tempo more often. As a team, they are averaging 114.7 points per game this season, while giving up 119 points per game. With the Wolves’ best defender out, this game has the potential to turn into a track meet.
– Jeff Teague vs. Darren Collison
Jimmy ButlerAndrew Wiggins vs. Victor Oladipo
Perhaps it’s not the most intriguing point guard matchup one could think of, but these are two really solid, sometimes over looked, players that will battle it out and their games are not all that different.
Both players thrive in the pick and roll game, are efficient around the rim and are knock down shooters when their feet are set. Collison is set to take on a bigger role if Turner is out, so Teague will have the opportunity of slowing their second option down.
Meanwhile, Collison will have the challenge of taking Teague out of the offense. When Teague wasn’t touching the ball for the Wolves, their offense tended to stagnate a bit. Collison has the capability to deny Teague the ball and make life tough on the Wolves’ offense.
At the opposite guard position, Butler will once again be tasked with guarding the opposing team’s best player.
With Butler out, I expect Wiggins will see significant time versus Oladipo, which won’t be an easy task. Oladipo isn’t on the same level as Russell Westbrook, but his style of play is not much different. He’ll have the ball in his hands a lot and looking to attack the basket and draw fouls.
He’s not nearly as efficient at the rim as Westbrook, but he does have some explosiveness. He’s also not afraid to run in and grab rebounds and push the ball in transition, so Wiggins will have to be alert at all times.
Jimmy Butler (illness) – OUT
Justin Patton (foot) – OUT
Glenn Robinson III (ankle) – OUT
Edmond Summer (knee) – OUT
Myles Turner (concussion, neck) – OUT
Where to Watch:
8:00 ET/7:00 CT on Fox Sports North Plus (Minnesota)
May 26, 2019, 1:17 amKawhi Leonard - F - Toronto Raptors
Kawhi Leonard posted a monster line in Saturday's 100-94 Game 6 win, scoring 27 points with 17 rebounds, seven assist, two steals, two blocks and six turnovers.
Leonard put the Raptors on his back and carried them into their first NBA Finals appearance. After losing the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals the Raptors stormed back to take the next four to seal the series. Kawhi has been simply marvelous for this team and found a way to crank it up another notch, averaging almost 30 points per game this series. He was all over the court this game and dominated the Bucks from inside the paint. A 4th quarter dunk over Giannis Antetokounmpo punctuated this dominance and sent the hometown crowd in a frenzy. The Raptors will try to keep their hot streak going as they face the Warriors in the NBA Finals.
May 26, 2019, 1:14 amGiannis Antetokounmpo - F - Milwaukee Bucks
While Giannis Antetokounmpo will be eligible for a five-year supermax contract worth over $247 million, ESPN's Malika Andrews is reporting that the 2020 playoff run could swing whether or not Antetokounmpo stays with the Bucks long-term.
The Bucks have three of their starters and two key bench pieces heading into free agency this summer, so they might have to make some bold choices to keep the necessary parts around while also improving the team on a budget. It's possible that this is the Antetokounmpo camp's way of encouraging Milwaukee to empty the wallet and keep the current group together, but it goes against what Giannis has said publicly about the team and city from day one. The Bucks were eliminated mere hours ago but we're already having this conversation. The NBA news cycle is perpetual.
May 26, 2019, 12:59 amKyle Lowry - G - Toronto Raptors
Kyle Lowry posted a solid line in Saturday's Game 6 win scoring 17 points while adding five rebounds, eight assists, three 3-pointers, one steal and only one turnover.
After a pedestrian series against the 76ers, Lowry stepped it up against the Bucks, averaging almost 20 points per game in the Eastern Conference Finals. He did a great job making smart plays for the Raptors and they will need him to continue to operate at this high level as they head off into the NBA Finals next week.
May 26, 2019, 12:48 amMarc Gasol - C - Toronto Raptors
Marc Gasol scored six points, all from behind the arc, in Saturday's Game 6 win, adding three rebounds, two assists and a block/steal in 26 minutes.
Gasol continues to do what the Raptors ask of him though the years of grinding in the paint for Memphis are long gone. He has adjusted his game play and now acts as a facilitator for the rest of the team. Gasol continues to split time in the post with Serge Ibaka (25 minutes, nine points) and will see his minutes fluctuate based on the Raptor's offensive scheme heading into the NBA Finals.
May 26, 2019, 12:24 amFred VanVleet - G - Toronto Raptors
Fred VanVleet was a difference maker for the Raptors' series clinching Game 6, scoring 14 points off the bench on 5-for-6 shooting while adding two assists.
VanVleet played 34 minutes off the bench and continues to be a menace from behind the 3-point line (4-for-5 today). In the past three games he has gone an unbelievable 14-for-17 from behind the arc. The Raptors will continue to rely on his ability to stretch the floor as they head into their first NBA Finals and will square off against the Warriors and their own formidable shooters.
May 26, 2019, 12:08 amGiannis Antetokounmpo - F - Milwaukee Bucks
Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 21 points in Saturday's Game 6 loss while contributing 11 rebounds, four assists, two steals, three blocks and two turnovers.
Antetokounmpo did all that was asked of him on both sides of the ball but could not get past the Raptors this series. Giannis continues to operate at an MVP-level but his freethrow woes continue to plague him. He was "Shaq-esque" this series (55%) and shot 5-for-10 in tonight's loss. This is a tough break for Antetokounmpo and the Bucks as they head into the offseason with four of their five starters entering free agency.
May 25, 2019, 11:46 pmKhris Middleton - F - Milwaukee Bucks
Khris Middleton scored 14 points in Saturday's Eastern Conference Finals loss adding just four 3-pointers, four rebounds and two turnovers.
All-Star Middleton struggled this entire series as he was tasked with the unenviable task of guarding Kawhi Leonard. He was poised to continue his fabulous playoff success following strong performances against the Pistons and Celtics but failed to deliver this series, with the exception of a 30-point Game 4 loss. Middleton will be a free agent this summer and will be one of the Bucks' top priorities heading into the offseason.
May 25, 2019, 11:29 pmEric Bledsoe - G - Milwaukee Bucks
Eric Bledsoe scored an inefficient eight points (3-for-9 FGs, 1-for-3 3-pointers, 1-for-2 FTs) in Saturday's loss while adding five rebounds, seven assists, one steal and two turnovers.
Bledsoe seemed to ebb and flow all series and just could not find the consistency that the Bucks needed during the Eastern Conference Finals. He has always been able to produce outside of scoring but his team really needed him to put the ball in the hoop this game.
May 25, 2019, 11:19 pmBrook Lopez - C - Milwaukee Bucks
Brook Lopez scored 18 points on Saturday's Game 6 loss, adding nine rebounds, one assist, four blocks and zero 3-pointers.
Lopez had a productive 4th quarter for the Bucks scoring six points in the paint against the Raptors frontcourt. Unfortunately, he could not get it going throughout the rest of the game and caused most of his damage at the freethrow line, going 8-for-9. Lopez provided a great boost for the Bucks this season and will be a free agent this offseason.
May 25, 2019, 7:58 pmPatrick McCaw - G - Toronto Raptors
Patrick McCaw, who has been dealing with a personal issue for the last few games, is active for Game 6 on Saturday vs. the Bucks.
It looks like McCaw got things sorted out. With him active now, the Raptros will get a bit more depth at the guard spot. That said, Fred VanVleet has been playing well, so McCaw will not likely see a lot of burn tonight outside of potential garbage minutes (if any).
Source: Blake Murphy on Twitter