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Warriors vs. Timberwolves: the First Half Finale

The Golden State Warriors are certainly the better team, but with the way they've played lately, an easy victory is not assured. Will the Dubs guarantee themselves a winning record before the all star break?

Curry completes a contested layup versus the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Curry completes a contested layup versus the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Golden State Warriors (41-9) @ Minnesota Timberwolves (11-41)

Target Center - Minneapolis, MN

5:00 p.m. PST

Radio: KNBR 680 AM | TV: CSN Bay Area

Buddy Blog: Canis Hoopus

The Golden State Warriors close out the unofficial first half of the season in snowy Minneapolis Wednesday evening, and the all star break could not come at a more desperate time. Mired in their first significant slump of the season, the Dubs earned ugly victories over the hapless New York Knicks and a spirited Philadelphia 76ers squad, following a loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

The Warriors are 'just' 7-3 in their last ten games, but in that time, their average margin of victory is down to 8.5 points per game -- good, but nowhere near the herculean 11.1 points-per-game the team has enjoyed over the full season. Suddenly, it's no longer obvious that Oracle hosts the league's best team. The loss to Atlanta in the Game of the Century didn't help, but the following week in Philadelphia surely turned heads in Warriorland.

The 76ers, who rank dead last by offensive efficiency and points per game, somehow managed to out-shoot the Splash Bros. and company from three-point range, the charity stripe and from the field overall. To add injury to insult, Draymond Green rolled his ankle in the fourth quarter, forcing him to head to the locker room early.

Fortunately, Draymond's x-ray results were negative (which is positive), and he's listed as day-to-day. But with the all star break just 48-minutes away, the Warriors would be wise to sit Green out, and have him ready for Friday-after-next when the Warriors host the San Antonio Spurs. The aforementioned Splash Brothers won't have the same luxury of rest, however, as both are slated to be prominent participants in this weekend's NBA all star festivities.

Wolves Wheeling and Dealing

As far as the Timberwolves are concerned, a couple of under-the-radar deals have changed their lineup in advance of Wednesday's tilt.

Leaving the T'Wolves Joining the T'Wolves
PG Mo Williams PG Gary Neal
PF Troy Daniels PF Adreian Payne
1st Round Draft Pick (lottery protected, 2017*) 2nd Round Draft Pick (2019 via Miami Heat)

*draft pick will stay protected through 2020. Additional details not yet reported.

The two name players involved are both mercenaries on expiring contracts (Mo Williams, Gary Neal). The key piece for the future is Adreian Payne, a young power forward who was buried on the Atlanta Hawks bench to this point. He won't be the most important Wolves forward to watch tonight, however.

Last year's first overall draft pick, Andrew Wiggins, will be on full display. In his last fifteen games, the Canadian sensation has averaged a robust 17.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists on 44.9% shooting from the field. Further, the rookie has finished at a robust 63.8% in the restricted area, an excellent figure for a young slasher on a lottery team.

At 11-41, the Timberwolves are clearly a work in progress. But despite that, they can pound the offensive glass and get to the line with the NBA's best. That combination should have the Warriors on high alert, especially if they are indeed without Draymond Green. The halfway break is almost here, but the Dubs will have to step up their game if they want to enter the midway break on a high note.

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