January 27, 2018, 2:21 pm
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.
– 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.
Jeff Teague – PG
Jimmy Butler – SG
Andrew Wiggins – SF
Taj Gibson – PF
Karl-Anthony Towns – C
Spencer Dinwiddie – PG
Allen Crabbe – SG
DeMarre Carroll – SF
Quincy Acy – PF
Tyler Zeller – C
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