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Key Matchup: Patrick McCaw vs. Jamal Crawford

Warriors vs. Timberwolves has plenty of star power. If the Warriors can’t find an early lead though, this guard matchup could make the difference.

2017 Las Vegas Summer League - Golden State Warriors v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

I feel bad for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Throngs of frozen Minnesotans are finally excited about the local hoops team. They have reason be pumped, but the T’Wolves still have a long road to be the class of the Western Conference. Their defense is still developing and Jeff Teague is still their starting point guard. Both of those things need to change if they want to contend.

Meanwhile, the Golden State Warriors are starting to find their groove. Stephen Curry is putting up MVP numbers, Klay Thompson is playing otherworldly basketball, and Draymond is back to being Draymond.

Minnesota rebounded from their tough start and are riding a five-game win streak. Folks have been worried about Minnesota’s defense for weeks, but coach Tom Thibodeau’s constant scream might finally be reaching his players.

Tonight’s game has plenty of star power and you’ll read lots about them. But the matchup I’m more interested in digs a bit deeper into the rotation. If the Timberwolves can keep it close, guards off the bench could prove to be the key matchup. Golden State of Mind’s favorite son/Warriors’ shooting guard Patrick McCaw versus the Timberwolves’ Jamal Crawford are tonight’s key matchup.

Crawford vs. McCaw

Crawford and McCaw play comparable minutes and produce at a similar clip (since the horrid loss to the Pistons, McCaw has averaged 17.5 minutes a game). Chris Ballard recently chronicled Crawford’s “weird and wondrous” career in Sports Illustrated— he’s always been a joy to watch and embodies the heat check. Crawford is a tricky player to guard though and he’ll likely see more time on the floor against Patrick McCaw than Klay Thompson or Steph Curry. The T’Wolves will want to maximize his output against the Warriors’ bench. For McCaw, Crawford poses an early-season defensive test.

Crawford is going to score. McCaw’s responsibility is coaxing Crawford into inefficient long 2-point shots and contesting his threes. If he can do that, we can at least be confident that the Wolves bench won’t beat the Warriors.

I am simultaneously not worried and hopeful about McCaw’s offensive production tonight. He’s been in a solid offensive rhythm over the past few games averaging nearly seven points. Jamal Crawford, Karl-Anthony Towns, and point guard Jeff Teague are not known for their strong defense. Whereas other teams can bring strong defenders off the bench, McCaw has an opportunity break the ten-point threshold tonight. Look for a big Warriors win.

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