• After a pretty disappointing performance against the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night, the Timberwolves have a quick turnaround versus the Pistons tonight in the newly opened Little Caesars Arena.

    The Detroit Pistons are an intriguing, mysterious team. On one hand, they have a nice collection of talent at nearly every position. Avery Bradley is an All-NBA defender. Tobias Harris is a good scorer and plays a well-rounded game. Andre Drummond is an elite rebounder, and can play good defense (though inconsistently). Reggie Jackson is a solid mid-tier point guard.

    On the other hand, they have never really been able to climb out of the fringe area of the Eastern Conference. They seem displeased with the contracts they handed out to Jackson and Drummond. They have good talent, but have yet to put it together after a number of years. Unfortunately, they lack the go-to star player it seems every true contender needs in this era.

    Detroit is fairly middle of the road in most areas of the game, they don’t particularly excel at any one aspect of the game and they don’t beat themselves. More talented teams shouldn’t have a problem topping them, but if a team makes some mistakes or comes out slow they can sneak up on you.

    The Timberwolves are a more talented team, but they looked out of sorts defensively last night against the Pacers without Jimmy Butler. With Butler out again tonight, the Wolves need to have a short memory and put forth a better effort.

    Offensively, the Wolves didn’t look quite at their best, especially against a poor defensive squad. There were still encouraging moments, Bjelica and Crawford were able to step up for stretches and keep the team competitive, and Towns still looks fine. At the moment, the offense isn’t the leading concern.

    The defense, on the other hand, was very poor. They cannot allow the Pistons to shoot as well as the Pacers did last night (66.7 percent, 77 percent in the second half) and hope to have a chance. With Butler out again, guys like Towns, Wiggins and Teague need to step up. Perhaps Muhammad is replaced in the lineup with a more defense focused player, though there is no clear option there.

    Key Matchup:

    – Karl-Anthony Towns vs. Andre Drummond

    – Taj Gibson vs. Tobias Harris

    The big centers in the middle will battle it out tonight in what should be an intriguing matchup. Towns can’t let himself get bullied for rebounds versus Drummond, though it will be no easy assignment as he is one of the top rebounders in the game.

    Like his games against Steven Adams and Rudy Gobert, it might be beneficial for Towns to step out and force Drummond to guard him on the perimeter. This can free up the lane a bit more.

    Offensively, Drummond isn’t much of a threat. He has ability to score, but he’s such a poor free throw shooter (career 38.4 percent) that sometimes the Pistons are hesitant to give him the ball consistently as teams just resort to fouling him. It’s possible Gorgui Dieng sees more time in this game to guard Drummond for this reason.

    In the other post position, Gibson will have the task of guarding Tobias Harris, who is very much a modern NBA “four”. Harris has the ability to play down low, but he can step away and make shots from the perimeter, off the dribble and off screens. He’s been the leading scorer for the Pistons this season.

    Gibson will have a mismatch offensively on him, it will be interesting to see if the Wolves exploit it. If Towns is able to hit some perimeter shots, it could give Gibson the space he needs in the paint.


    Jeff Teague

    Andrew Wiggins

    Shabazz Muhammad

    Taj Gibson

    Karl-Anthony Towns


    Reggie Jackson

    Avery Bradley

    Stanley Johnson

    Tobias Harris

    Andre Drummond


    Jimmy Butler (illness) – OUT

    Justin Patton (foot) – OUT

    Reggie Bullock (suspended) – OUT

    Where to watch:

    7:00 ET/6:00 CT on Fox Sports North

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