Golden State Warriors (14-2) vs Minnesota Timberwolves (5-10)
How to Watch?
Date: Saturday November 25, 2016
Location: Oracle Arena — Oakland, CA
Time: 7:30pm PST
TV: CSN Bay Area, League Pass Radio: 95.7 THE GAME
The Warriors... have quietly found themselves at the top of the Western Conference, now tied up with the Clippers after sweeping their four-game road trip and getting the Lakers on the back-to-back, exorcising their Staples Center demons. The win came with a cost - Draymond Green and Ian Clark both left with injuries. We are yet to see how long Green will be out, but an ankle contusion might mean a few days of rest for the heart of this team. This could be a challenge for the rest of the roster just as Golden State seemed to be figuring out things on the defensive end.
The impressive part about the recent win streak has to be the assists and unselfish game on the offensive end. Taking advantage of the young Lakers, the Warriors cut up the floor on their way to layup after layup. Can they carry this over to another undisciplined team in the Wolves?
Kevin Durant had another impressive night on Friday, scoring 29 points on 11 of 19 shooting. Besides his shooting percentage, I have been most impressed by his effort on defense. He is averaging 1.3 blocks per game and 1.7 steals per game, both career highs. Ron Adams has him flying around the floor to help out with Draymond Green, and the results are showing. Can he take his turn on the big man Karl-Anthony Towns when the two play Saturday night?
The Timberwolves... are such a confusing team. How can a squad that features highlights like these...
Zach LeVine wanted for first degree murder https://t.co/7yKHFvltQR— SysTOM Brady 8-2 (@ChrisCreacy) November 26, 2016
... have a record so bad!!?? The Wolves were a consensus “it” team to start the season; new coach in Thibodeau, so much talent up and down the roster, and even add in a super rookie in Chris Dunn who was going to fill up the stats sheet. Add in a few vets (including Warriors faithful Brandon Rush) and Minnesota was too big to fail. What happened? So far, they have failed. Ricky Rubio summed it up quite well after a recent loss:
As a Warriors fan who watched a franchise build up a talent group over the years, I completely understand this feeling. A young team can look fantastic 75% of the time. Winning teams don’t make the big mistakes and have the mental capacity to make the big shots and compose themselves when they need to.
This is what frustrated me about the Spurs over the years - no matter how bad they can look in specific moments, they always find a way to right the ship just in time. So far this year, the Wolves keep making the same mistakes, not learning to put it all together to get the wins they deserve to have.
They have arguably one of the best young players in the league in Karl Anthony Towns. KAT is averaging 21.3 Points Per Game (PPG) and 9.4 Rebounds Per Game (RPG) as the anchor of the offense. He isn’t even the top scorer on this roster - Andrew Wiggins puts in 23.9 PPG. But nothing personifies Wiggins’ career than his stat line against the Pelicans the other night - 13 points on 2-19 shooting, with - sit down for this - 0 rebounds and 0 assists.
You can’t have a group like this that individually looks so good, but can't play as a cohesive group and win games together. Minnesota isn’t particularly bad at any one thing, finding themselves in the middle of the NBA in offense and defense. They have a particularly slow pace (21st in the league) and have a lower defensive rating (24th in the league), shocking for a Thibs team. Could it be that this team will take time to mesh with their rising talent levels? A fan of the NBA hopes so, but for now it is sad to see them struggle.
Both teams are coming off a back-to-back for the match up Saturday (every team in the NBA team played on Friday... did you know this?) Even with the fatigue, the Warriors stand to be at the disadvantage containing the young big man while they continue to feature smaller lineups.
They have yet to face a skilled front court player like KAT, as they have avoided Boogie Cousins and other power centers so far this year. How will Steve Kerr respond to the match up, especially if Draymond Green can't play? Possibly more minutes for a guy like JaVale McGee? Instant double teams that force the pass to the Wolves shooters, where they have three starters that shoot about 40% from three (Zach LeVine, Wiggins and surprisingly Towns as well)?
I like the early season challenge to see how Golden State can play the half-court game. If this matchup slows down, I actually give the advantage to Minnesota. If the pace picks up and the Warriors can get out and run, Golden State will have the advantage to force Minn into mistakes and take advantage of their undisciplined defense.
On the back-to-back, I would guess this game slows down and I actually give Minnesota the edge, seeking out the win 105-100. As a Warriors’ fan, I hope I am wrong, but Karl Anthony Towns is good enough to beat a team by himself, which he all but did in one of the only Warriors home losses last season. This should be a great matchup!