• 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.

    Lineups:

    Jeff Teague

    Andrew Wiggins

    Shabazz Muhammad

    Taj Gibson

    Karl-Anthony Towns

    vs.

    Reggie Jackson

    Avery Bradley

    Stanley Johnson

    Tobias Harris

    Andre Drummond

    Inactives:

    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

Fantasy News

  • Kawhi 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.

  • Giannis 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.

    Source: ESPN

  • Kyle 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.

  • Marc 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.

  • Fred 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.

  • Giannis 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.

  • Khris 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.

  • Eric 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.

  • Brook 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.

  • Patrick 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