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Warriors vs. Timberwolves preview: Dubs head to China in search of a preseason win

The big man rotation will seek some answers against an up-and-coming contender

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NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Golden State Warriors Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

How to watch:

Date: Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017

Time: 11:00 P.M. PST – yes, you read that correctly

Location: Shenzhen Universiade Center, Shenzhen, China

TV: NBC Sports Bay Area, NBATV

Radio: 95.7 The Game

Team records:

Warriors: 0-1

Timberwolves: 1-0

2016-17 results: Warriors won 3-1

Projected starters:

Warriors: PG Stephen Curry, SG Klay Thompson, SF Kevin Durant, PF Draymond Green, C Zaza Pachulia

Timberwolves: PG Jeff Teague, SG Jimmy Butler, SF Andrew Wiggins, PF Taj Gibson, C Karl-Anthony Towns

Injury report:

Warriors: Nick Young (summer bod . . . I kid, I kid, no injuries

Timberwolves: Justin Patton (foot)

Key matchups: Jimmy Butler vs. Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson; drill sergeant on steroids Tom Thibodeau vs. laid back coffee shop inhabitant Steve Kerr

Welcome to China!

While the excitement for fans lies in the fact that preseason game number two is here, the Golden State Warriors are excited about where they are.

A trip to China might be a bit exhausting, but the Dubs are adored there, and seem to be loving their trip.

Anthony Slater of The Athletic painted an interesting picture of the contrast in approaches between the Warriors and the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Dubs are keeping it laid back, with sightseeing trips, family accommodations, and minimal practicing.

The Wolves, on the other hand, are employing Coach Thibs’ notorious work-work-work attitude. Will that make a difference on Wednesday? Quite possibly.

First look at a budding competitor

The Timberwolves haven’t made the playoffs in 13 years. While I expect that will change this year, they’re still a few years away from contending in the ultra-packed West.

That said, this team has realistic expectations of being a title contender soon, and the Warriors will get their first glimpse of the revamped team.

Minnesota nabbed All-Star and all-around superstar Jimmy Butler from the Chicago Bulls in what amounted to highway robbery, then added Taj Gibson to shore up the defense. Karl-Anthony Towns spent the final months of the 2016-17 season looking like the best offensive center since Shaquille O-Neal, and if he carries that into his third year this team could be a nightmare.

Welcome to the Dubs, Omri Casspi

In the preseason opener on Saturday, the Warriors got minutes for all but one of their players. The only Warrior who didn’t see the court was newcomer Omri Casspi, who was observing Yom Kippur.

Casspi will suit up in blue and gold for the first time on Wedneday, and it will be fun to see what rotations Kerr puts him into and how he fares with his new teammates. I predict that he’ll fit in very nicely.

Big man rotation

If there’s one thing the Warriors need to figure out, it’s the rotation of their big men. The Dubs have a huge number of frontcourt options: established talents in Zaza Pachulia and David West; the electric but inconsistent JaVale McGee; unproven youngsters Damian Jones and Kevon Looney; and rookie Jordan Bell.

It remains to be seen exactly how minutes will shake up, especially for the last three. Preseason games will offer Kerr an opportunity to see what Jones, Looney, and Bell can bring to the table, and I’d expect to see the coaching staff tinker with rotations.

In the opener, Kerr gave Bell some run alongside the Dubs’ Big 4, and it was quite successful. I’m curious to see if he tries that again, or if he gives Jones or Looney such an opportunity.

Last, but certainly not least…

This is the only 11:00 PM start time of the season. I promise.

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