• Minnesota makes a quick trip to Los Angeles to conclude the short two-game road trip ahead of a five-game homestand. This becomes a big game to take to get some momentum headed back home.

    The Wolves will face the Clippers in a rematch after beating them just last Sunday. LA hasn’t played a game since the loss so they’ve had ample time to prepare. Not much has changed for them in the time since they’ve played. Danilo Gallinari is expected to make his return which should give them a boost.

    In the last matchup offense dominated the game. The final score was a 112-106 Wolves’ victory, a high score given the slow pace of the game. The Clippers had an offensive rating of 118.3, well above their season average of 108.1, while the Wolves rating was 125 compared to their season average of 111.2.

    The game was decided on the Wolves’ offensive rebounding and Wes Johnson’s inability to score on his former team. This game was tightly contested all the way through to a point where it was simply a couple of plays that turned the tide. The Wolves had 22 second chance points in the game off of 14 offensive rebounds.

    A key sequence came late in the fourth quarter. It was a one-point game 97-96. Butler put up a shot and KAT came down with the offensive rebound. DeAndre Jordan managed to get his hands on it for a jump ball, but after the Wolves controlled the tip Butler went back up with an and-one opportunity to put the Wolves up four.

    Then again under two minutes Butler followed his own miss with a layup to extend the lead to six, icing the game in the process.

    On the other end Wes Johnson was 1-of-10 shooting with a 27 offensive rating. He wasn’t the sole reason the Clippers lost, but there were a couple of good looks that could have fallen either way.

    Given those two factors, on top of the fact that the Wolves were playing a tired Clippers team off a back-to-back on the road, it gives reason to doubt the Wolves’ chances in this game playing on the road themselves versus a rejuvenated squad. Despite the Clippers’ record this should be another close affair.

    The Wolves hope to welcome back Bjelica, though if he can’t play there’s hope he’ll be ready after the long break ahead for the Wolves. Minnesota doesn’t play again until Sunday.

    Key Matchups:

    – Jeff Teague vs. Austin Rivers

    – The Field vs. Lou Williams

    In the first game between these teams Rivers lit up the Wolves, going for 30 points and seven 3-pointers. Teague saw significant time on Rivers and wasn’t always defensively engaged. With less fire power than they’ve had in a long time it’s important not to let the Clippers get off to a hot start.

    Teague let exactly that happen on Sunday. Rivers scored the first eight points for the Clippers, making all three of his shots (including two 3-pointers), and scored 20 points by halftime. If Teague can keep Rivers in check early the Wolves will likely be able to build a strong lead in the outset game.

    Another reason Rivers’ hot start was so successful, and why the Wolves need to focus on him early, is because head coach Doc Rivers decided to stagnate Rivers and William’s early minutes. With Lou coming off the bench for instant offense, he was able to torch Jamal Crawford and keep the Clippers in the game.

    Coupling Rivers’ hot start with Lou’s instant offense off the bench, Doc’s gamble paid off. In this game the Wolves have to make sure that they can’t get away with it again. The return of Gallinari adds some more punch to the offense, but there should be quite a bit of rust and he’s not expected to play big minutes.

    Projected Lineup:

    Jeff Teague – PG

    Jimmy Butler – SG

    Andrew Wiggins – SF

    Karl-Anthony Towns – PF

    Taj Gibson – C

    vs.

    Austin Rivers – PG

    C.J. Williams – SG

    Wes Johnson – SF

    Danilo Gallinari – PF

    DeAndre Jordan – C

    Injuries:

    Nemanja Bjelica (foot) – DOUBTFUL

    Jimmy Butler (finger) – PROBABLE 

    Justin Patton (foot) – G-LEAGUE

    Patrick Beverley (knee) – OUT

    Danilo Gallinari (hip) – PROBABLE

    Blake Griffin (knee) – OUT

    Milos Teodosic (foot) – OUT

    Where to Watch:

    10:30 ET/9:30 CT on Fox Sports North and ESPN

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