• Unlike the last meeting where the Wolves and Warriors were locked in a tight, low-scoring affair through halftime, the Warriors came out guns blazing tonight. They scored 38 points in the first quarter and finished with 74 at halftime.

    Running with the theme the last six games, the Wolves’ defense has been inconsistent at best, and atrocious at worst. The Wolves were consistently getting beat in transition, with 3-to-4 Warriors ahead of the pack nearly every possession.

    By halftime the Warriors had 39 fast-break points to the Wolves’ eight. It’s not the Wolves’ game to generate transition points, while the Dubs certainly do, but the 39 points was a team record for most by a team in a half since they started tracking the stat in 2002.

    The Warriors get the majority of their offense from transition, but the Wolves simply let them run all over and couldn’t give an ounce of resistance.

    They also shot 18-of-26 from 3-point range through the first three quarters, and finished the game 21-of-34, compared to the Wolves’ 6-of-20.

    Despite all that the Wolves were only outscored by four points after the first quarter. It’s cheap to bring up “moral victories” but the Wolves certainly hung in there throughout the game and didn’t allow the Warriors to empty the bench. If not for an ice-cold finish to the game the Wolves may have even had a shot to win.

    The reason was because the Wolves weren’t very impressed with the opposing defense, and Karl-Anthony Towns particularly feasted on whatever the Warriors brought at him. Towns finished with 31 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and one 3-pointer. He also shot 13-of-24 from the field.

    As much as the TNT crew would like to say otherwise, the Wolves are a good offensive team. Perhaps they aren’t the most modern, and it likely can improve further, but the fact is the Wolves average the sixth most points in the NBA and hold the third best offensive rating while playing among the slowest pace in the NBA.

    The Wolves have no trouble putting up baskets. It’s always been, and will continue to be, about the defense. With Jimmy Butler out the numbers haven’t been pretty. They’re still putting up points but that’s not why they went out and acquired Butler. They got him to be the defensive stopper and leader, things they have missed the past four games.

    The Wolves don’t need to play faster, they don’t need to shoot more 3-pointers, they don’t need more offense. They need to defend, have attention to detail with the little things on that end of the floor and buy into the team defense concept.

    Can they improve the offense? Surely. They can go out and add another wing that is a deep shooting threat. He’s not going to play anymore than the last guy in the rotation if he doesn’t defend though.

    The defense can’t all be based off of one player either. There shouldn’t be an excuse for the Wolves’ poor defense because Butler is out. The team is still building towards a place where they can consistently defend at a high level no matter who steps on the court. They can look to the opposing team tonight as a clear example of a complete team buy-in on defense.

    That type of consistency wasn’t going to develop in such a short amount of time. There have already been glimpses of improvements as well. This last stretch of games though, hopefully culminating with tonight, has shown the long road still ahead.

    Overall six players finished with double-digit points for the Wolves. Jamal Crawford has been on fire since returning to the lineup. He scored 26 points tonight on 9-of-16 shooting.

    Kevin Durant finished with a triple-double, scoring 28 points with 11 assists, 10 rebounds, two steals, three blocks and six 3-pointers for the Warriors.

    Up next the Wolves return home and look to get revenge on the Brooklyn Nets.

Fantasy News

  • Stephen Curry
    PG, Golden State Warriors

    According to Adrian Wojnarowski and Jackie MacMullan of ESPN, the NBA is close to signing off on a secondary bubble location in Chicago for the eight teams left out of the league resumption with a target date of September.

    They went on to say that this bubble would allow those eight teams who were not invited to Orlando to have an opportunity to have mini-training camps as well as games. It has been reported throughout the last few months that the teams that were not invited should have an opportunity to prepare for next season. Many of the teams who were not included would benefit greatly from additional practice time and game reps as most of these teams have young players who need to continue to develop their skills. There will still be a lot of logistics that need to be ironed out so this a situation to monitor as we learn more.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Marvin Bagley III
    PF, Sacramento Kings

    Marvin Bagley confirmed that he is "ready to go" for the NBA restart in Orlando after rehabbing from a left foot sprain.

    It was previously reported in early July that the Kings' training staff believed that Bagley would be available for game action soon and this report confirms that Bagley will in fact be available for the league resumption. Bagley has yet to live up to the hype of the second overall pick in 2018 as he has only been able to play in 75 out of a possible 146 games (51.3 percent). It is unclear what role Bagley will have in Orlando but it appears that his injury woes are behind him and we will learn more about his ability during the league resumption. Bagley's return would likely cut into the playing time of Nemanja Bjelica, Harry Giles, Jabari Parker and Harrison Barnes.

    Source: Sean Cunningham on Twitter

  • Jusuf Nurkic
    C, Portland Trail Blazers

    In a conference call with Portland media, Terry Stotts revealed that Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins are likely to return to their starting jobs and won't be under minutes restrictions when the NBA resumes.

    It should be a huge defensive lift for a Blazers squad that gave up points like crazy, though this will throw a wrench into plans for DFS players. Stotts mentioned that he's considered starting Nurkic next to current starter Hassan Whiteside, though that fit would likely only be tenable in certain matchups. This, plus news of Trevor Ariza's absence during the restart, also has big effects on the wing rotation, where it sounds like Carmelo Anthony and Gary Trent Jr. are competing to start with Nassir Little and Mario Hezonja also in the mix off the bench. This is a big blow to Hassan Whiteside's fantasy appeal — a top-15 player in 31.3 mpg this year– as his minutes should sink into the mid twenties. Anyone participating in a short league that covers the restart may want to view Whiteside as more of a middle-round, blocks specialist type, though this all obviously hinges on how Nurkic and Collins look when games begin.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Devin Booker
    SG, Phoenix Suns

    Monty Williams said that he wants to play Devin Booker and Ricky Rubio less than their typical minute allotment when the NBA resumes in Orlando.

    The Suns have extremely slim playoff hopes and Williams doesn't want to risk one of the team's starting guards sustaining an injury in what amounts to a meaningless game. Expect similar moves from plenty of teams who realistically have no shot at the playoffs, even if they don't declare as much publicly. Anyone playing fantasy games for the eight-game restart should familiarize themselves with the depth charts on such teams and maybe downgrade some of the bigger names in case their minutes are limited.

    Source: Valley Tales

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    Out of 344 players tested between June 24-29, nine have tested positive for COVID-19.

    That brings the NBA up to 25 positive cases among players since June 23 testing began, a positive rate of 7.1%. 10 out of 884 staff members have also tested positive. How the NBA handles any potential spread of the virus inside the Orlando bubble will make or break their entire plan.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Jontay Porter
    C, Memphis Grizzlies

    Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said that rookie Jontay Porter may be available for games in the Orlando bubble.

    Porter missed the entire 2018-19 college season after suffering a knee injury and hasn't suited up as a pro, so if he accompanies the Grizzlies to Orlando it'll be more for the experience than actual playing time. His college numbers were intriguing but Porter is only of consequence in deep dynasty formats for now.

    Source: Daily Memphian

  • Grayson Allen
    SG, Memphis Grizzlies

    Grayson Allen (left hip) may be able to play when the NBA season resumes in Orlando.

    Allen has been sidelined with left hip soreness since leaving a game in late January, and his ailment would've ended his season had things finished as scheduled. While he hasn't received the all-clear yet, the Grizzlies will evaluate him after he gets through some practices in the Orlando bubble. He's unlikely to play much even if he can, as the Grizzlies currently boast a fully healthy roster.

    Source: Daily Memphian

  • Dwight Howard
    C, Los Angeles Lakers

    Dave McMenamin of ESPN reported that Dwight Howard remains in his Atlanta-area home and the Lakers hope he will eventually join them in Orlando.

    The Lakers do not plan to replace Howard on the roster. They are being patient with Howard, but if he decides to not play in Orlando the Lakers will likely look to sign another center.

    Source: Dave McMenamin on Twitter

  • Luc Mbah a Moute
    SF, Houston Rockets

    Shams Charania reported that the Houston Rockets plan to sign Luc Mbah a Moute for the Orlando restart.

    Thabo Sefolosha announced on Wednesday that he will not participate in the Orlando restart, leaving the Rockets with a need for an additional three-and-D wing. Mbah a Moute played 61 games for the Rockets in 2017-18 and averaged 25.6 minutes per game, so he is familiar with their system. Mbah a Moute will be a low-usage player that the Rockets can plug in at the end of their rotation and will provide them more depth, which could be imperative for teams given the COVID-19 concerns surrounding this Orlando restart.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Dwight Powell
    PF, Dallas Mavericks

    Dwight Powell has advanced in his rehab from a torn Achilles as he has been able to do some light shooting, agility work, and has been able to do some jogging on the treadmill.

    Powell suffered a torn Achilles in January and has no chance of participating in Orlando's restart. However, it is always good news to hear a player reach a milestone in terms of their rehab. Powell may not play an NBA game until the 2021-22 season as he continues to recover from one of the toughest injuries in basketball. This is a situation that will continue to evolve over the next year or so.

    Source: Callie Caplan on Twitter