• The Wolves are in a bit of a funk lately. They’ve won only two of their past six games and the main culprit has been their defense. They have a defensive rating of 115.8 over that span, and this was after the team saw steady improvement over the course of the season on that end of the floor.

    Of course their defensive leader Jimmy Butler has missed the past four games with a minor knee injury which certainly has played a factor in the ineffectiveness.

    Now the Wolves take on a Brooklyn squad that is a very poor offensive team, ranking 27th in offensive rating. The last time these teams met the Nets only put up 98 points as well, so the Wolves should have no trouble keeping them in check.

    Unfortunately the Wolves weren’t able to score and finished with just 97 points in a tough loss. The Nets have a surprisingly okay defense, ranking in the middle of the pack in defensive rating on the season and certainly gave the Wolves all they could handle last time out.

    This time around the Wolves will be at home where they’re an even better offensive team than on the road.

    It will be interesting to see the game plan for the Nets. In the last matchup they had Rondae Hollis-Jefferson guarding Towns the majority of the time and matched Tyler Zeller with Gibson. With Hollis-Jefferson out this game and DeMarre Carroll likely to slide into the power forward slot it’s unknown whether they’ll employ the same strategy.

    Hollis-Jefferson is an athletic and long armed, though small, power forward and is their best defender. Carroll is not at that level so they may opt for the size of Zeller instead. Regardless this is a matchup Towns should be able to take full advantage up.

    Ideally the Wolves have a good chance in this game whether or not Butler plays. This game, and the next game as well, are important in the long run. They’re up against the bottom feeders of the Eastern Conference ahead of another tough road game in Toronto.

    The Wolves have let a few of these bunnies in the schedule get away from them, namely the Suns, Grizzlies and these Nets. So long as they come out with the same intensity as they have in the previous few games they should be in good shape.

    If the Wolves take this one for granted and let the Nets hang around, anything can happen.

    Key Matchup:

    – Jeff Teague vs. Spencer Dinwiddie

    Teague sat out the last matchup between these teams. Instead Tyus Jones had the honor of trying to stop Dinwiddie. Jones has been tremendous in many previous starts, but Dinwiddie is a different type of matchup and he struggled. Dinwiddie scored the winning basket in the last meeting.

    Spencer is tall and long for a point guard at 6’6″ and just was too much for Tyus. Teague is certainly no bigger than Tyus so it’s not likely he’ll make a better defensive matchup but perhaps Teague’s offense will provide a bigger boost than Jones could.

    For Dinwiddie’s size, he’s not the best defender. Teague should be able to beat him off the dribble and have plenty of opportunities in the lane to score. If Teague can at least keep pace with Dinwiddie, or somehow slow him down, the Nets may struggle to score elsewhere, outside of the 3-point shot.

    Lineups:

    Jeff Teague – PG

    Jimmy Butler – SG

    Andrew Wiggins – SF

    Taj Gibson – PF

    Karl-Anthony Towns – C

    vs.

    Spencer Dinwiddie – PG

    Allen Crabbe – SG

    DeMarre Carroll – SF

    Quincy Acy – PF

    Tyler Zeller – C

    Injuries:

    Jimmy Butler (knee) – QUESTIONABLE

    Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (groin) – OUT

    Jeremy Lin (knee) – OUT

    D’Angelo Russell (rest) – OUT

    Where to Watch:

    9:00 ET/8:00 CT on Fox Sports North

Fantasy News

  • Skal Labissiere
    PF, Portland Trail Blazers

    Skal Labissiere had a huge night on Thursday with a season-high 22 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and five blocks as the Blazers lost 137-129 against the Bucks.

    Labissiere was huge partially due to Hassan Whiteside's absence, but we have to give him a lot of credit. Not only was it a season high in points for Skal, but also in rebounds and blocks. Additionally, he hit his first two 3-pointers of the season. It was an all-around gem from him and he should really be on radars going forward because of the lack of depth up front for the Blazers even when Whiteside is healthy.

  • Rodney Hood
    SG, Portland Trail Blazers

    Rodney Hood played a quietly solid 30 minutes on Thursday night, finishing with 11 points (5-of-5 shooting), three rebounds, four assists and two steals.

    Hood is a perfectly fine option who holds value in part because he will get minutes on a team that really needs him to perform well. He should maintain value in the top-120 range.

  • Carmelo Anthony
    PF, Portland Trail Blazers

    Carmelo Anthony put up a decent popcorn line with 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists in 29 minutes on Thursday in a loss to the Bucks.

    Anthony's second game as a Blazer was an improvement on his debut, but we're really seeing what Anthony is going to be. He's a volume play without a diverse skill set. He's not going to have great percentages, will be turnover-prone, and won't contribute defensively. He is primarily a points and rebounds option who may have some low-end value.

  • Gary Trent Jr.
    SG, Portland Trail Blazers

    Gary Trent Jr. started his first game of the season on Thursday, playing 21 minutes, scoring 13 points and adding three defensive counters.

    Trent Jr. had his first impactful game of the year in this loss with his first double-digit scoring outing. He's not worth a look at this point, but if there were a bevy of injuries on top of what the Blazers are dealing with now, he may be a streaming option.

  • CJ McCollum
    SG, Portland Trail Blazers

    C.J. McCollum provided a lot of offense for the Blazers on Thursday, scoring 37 points to go along with six rebounds, 10 assists, five 3-pointers and three blocks.

    It was also McCollum's first double-double of the year and arguably his best game of the young season. The Blazers are really struggling in the early going and they need a lot from McCollum and the ailing Damian Lillard to get back into the race out West.

  • Brook Lopez
    C, Milwaukee Bucks

    Brook Lopez played 30 minutes on Thursday, scoring 10 points and hitting two triples, but somehow failing to grab a rebound.

    This is always mind boggling that Lopez could go a whole full night of action without getting even one rebound. He must not remember that he's seven feet tall. If we thought his last game against the Hawks was mundane, this is even more so.

  • Pat Connaughton
    SG, Milwaukee Bucks

    Pat Connaughton played 22 productive minutes off the bench on Thursday, finishing with 18 points and hitting two 3-pointers.

    The Bucks bench mob is really a team effort, which makes it hard to get excited about any single option. Connaughton's best opportunity would come if Wes Matthews put up more dud games in the starting lineup. This was not that game, as Matthews hit four triples for his 12 points.

  • Donte DiVincenzo
    SG, Milwaukee Bucks

    Donte DiVincenzo performed well once again on Thursday with 16 points and two triples in 27 minutes.

    DiVincenzo has put up similar lines over the last four games, mainly providing double-digit scoring and a few long range bombs. He has some streaming potential as a low-end player because it's clear the minutes are going to be there.

  • Eric Bledsoe
    PG, Milwaukee Bucks

    Eric Bledsoe continued his strong run with 30 points, four rebounds and six assists in 31 minutes of action on Thursday.

    There isn't a lot to say about Bledsoe. He's a top-50 asset through and through. Lock him in and reap benefits, especially with Khris Middleton out of commission.

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo
    PF, Milwaukee Bucks

    Giannis Antetokounmpo dominated again with 24 points, 19 rebounds, 15 assists, three steals and a blocked shot, but struggled with his shot in a win over the Blazers on Thursday.

    Covered up by the big popcorn numbers was a real struggle with efficiency for Antetokounmpo. He shot 9-for-27 from the field and 5-for-10 from the free throw line. The inability to hit free throws consistently has been a huge bane for GA thus far. He's having by far the worst impact on free throw percentage for fantasy purposes with his combination of volume and poor percentage, almost twice as bad as the next lowest contributor, Bam Adebayo.