October 27, 2017, 8:57 am
It was only four days ago that the Timberwolves went into Oklahoma City and sealed a victory on the last shot of the game.
It feels like a whole season has passed since that night, like we we’re watching a new team. In two games since Sunday, the Wolves got blown out by the Pacers at home and by the Pistons on the road. Jimmy Butler sat both game because of an illness, but there was no excusing the effort the team put forth in both games.
The communication on the court was silent, help defense wasn’t arriving on time and it seemed most of the time guys were just rolling through the motions, only showing short bursts of life.
Perhaps they only need another team from the Western Conference to give them that competitive swagger they had only four days ago.
Butler’s status is still up in the air, and if he is unable to play the Wolves are going to have an extremely tough time containing the Thunder. Even last Sunday, the Wolves were able to do a nice job defensively versus the Thunder and still gave up 113 points. It looks like Butler will be in there tonight though.
After building up to that thrilling game last Sunday, it feels like this last week it all came crashing down. The key for the Wolves will be to not panic, pick up the pieces and get back to building. This team as constructed wasn’t going to be ready so soon anyway. These highs and lows will be a common theme, possibly all season.
As for the Thunder, they’ve only played one game since Sunday and it was versus the Pacers, who they wee able to take down 114-96. Westbrook has a 28 point triple-double, Anthony had a 28 point double-double, and Adams scored 17 with 11 rebounds. George scored only 10 points versus his former team, taking only eight shots. He played only 19 minutes before fouling out.
George hasn’t really found his rhythm yet with the Thunder, but you expect that he will at any moment.
Not much has changed since Sunday with the Thunder, they will continue to force the issue with their big three, let Adams clean up any messes and hope that teams continue to guard Andre Roberson. The Thunder are just difficult to contain and even when they don’t play their best game, they can out-talent almost any team in the league.
They’ll no doubt be out for blood after what Wiggins did to them on Sunday, which makes this game another one with firework potential. Expect no mercy from these guys with or without Butler out there to stop them.
– Towns vs. Adams
– Wiggins vs. George
Towns is going to have to do better on the defensive glass tonight than he was on Sunday. He was burned more than a few times by Adams, and when just about everything has to be perfect to beat these guys, you can’t be giving them extra possessions.
In their last matchup, Adams was giving Towns the three-pointer whenever he wanted it, and he was okay taking them (except on the second-to-last Wolves possession where Towns beat Adams off the dribble for a go-ahead floater). I would expect more of the same tonight if Butler is in there. If Butler sits, Towns might have to be more aggressive looking for his interior shot tonight.
Once again, these two will battle it out. Wiggins got the better of George on Sunday and I don’t think either forgot about it. I think we’re going to see both guys heavily involved in the offense, the Thunder trying to get George going and the Wolves out of pure necessity of Wiggins’ offense.
I’m thinking both guys go for 25 a piece, at least.
Jimmy Butler (illness) – PROBABLE
Justin Patton (foot) – OUT
Where to Watch:
8:00 ET/7:00 CT on Fox Sports North
May 26, 2019, 11:48 amOG Anunoby - F - Toronto Raptors
The Raptors are expressing optimism that OG Anunoby will be able to see the floor for their NBA Finals matchup with the Golden State Warriors.
Anunoby's size and defensive versatility could make for a very valuable weapon against the Warriors' small-ball lineups. That being said, he has been out for nearly a month and a half, and the Raptors' eight man rotation has hit its stride in the crux of this playoff run. It remains to be seen if he will make it back, but in the event that he can, there is no guarantee that he will be able to crack meaningful minutes in Toronto's tight rotation.
Source: Ryan Wolstat on Twitter
May 26, 2019, 11:19 amMichael Porter Jr. - F - Denver Nuggets
As a symptom from his back surgeries, Michael Porter Jr. developed drop foot, and will wear to a leg brace to help stabilize it when he makes his professional debut in Summer League according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post.
Drop foot makes it hard for one to lift the front part of their foot and is a common symptom of back related ailments, of which Porter Jr. has had two surgeries to address over the last year and a half. Porter Jr. remains an unknown commodity with a laundry list of health concerns as an NBA player. There has been some recent success with young guys being able to bounce back in big ways after suffering year-long injuries, but Porter Jr. will remain a mystery until we see him on the court for his inaugural season.
Source: The Denver Post
May 26, 2019, 11:04 amJonas Valanciunas - C - Memphis Grizzlies
Jonas Valanciunas said that he wants to see who the Memphis Grizzlies hire as their next head coach before deciding on his $17.6 million player option.
Valanciunas saw his role increase in Memphis after being traded from Toronto, and actually played to compete with the Grizz trying to win enough games to convert their, at the time, low-end lottery pick to Boston. Valanciunas made it clear that he doesn't want to return to Memphis if their plans are to pivot to a rebuild and not compete again next year, saying, "I want to know, how we gonna look in 82 games. I don't want to be a tourist. I want to win.". The Hoop Ball favorite will be hard pressed to find a situation that will give him as much run, and fantasy value, as Memphis did, making this a decision fantasy owners everywhere should monitor.
Source: Dontas Urbonas on Twitter
May 26, 2019, 10:06 amKawhi Leonard - F - Toronto Raptors
Kawhi Leonard held Giannis Antetekounmpo to just .353 shooting from the floor with an offensive rating of 89.4 when guarding him in the Eastern Conference Finals.
This is needed to emphasize just how dominant of a defensive player Leonard really is. For reference, Giannis shot .578 from the floor with an offensive rating of 121 through the regular season. A total swing of nearly 23 percent and 32 less points per 100 possessions is preposterous for any player, especially an MVP caliber offensive juggernaut in Antetokounmpo. Keep these numbers in mind as the debate over Leonard being the league's best player continues to heat up.
Source: Micha Adams on Twitter
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.