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Warriors vs Timberwolves Preview: Butler has Wolves on the hunt in West

GSoM Night is set as the dangerous T’Wolves’ improved defense and methodical offense put them around the #3 seed in the Western Conference.

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

Game Details

Who: Minnesota Timberwolves at Golden State Warriors

When: Thursday, January 25th, 7:30 PM PST

Where: Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA

TV: TNT, NBC Sports Bay Area

Radio: 95.7 The Game

Highly Respected Friend’s Blog: Canis Hoopus

Injury updates:

Warriors: Jordan Bell (out, left ankle inflammation)

Timberwolves: Jimmy Butler (doubtful, sore right knee), Jamal Crawford (questionable, left great toe sprain)

All statistical information as of 8 P.M. PST on 1/24/2018

State of Dub Nation

The red-hot dynasty that is the Golden State Warriors is cruising towards the All-Star break with the NBA’s best record at 38-10; they are setting themselves up well for home court advantage in the playoffs. Their recent crushing of the New York Knicks was a welcome appetizer before a real challenge: the bloodthirsty Minnesota Timberwolves.

We should be paying more attention to the team currently tied with the creaky San Antonio Spurs for the third seed in the Western Conference. Both of those teams share a 31-18 record, but with possibly franchise-altering injury concerns plaguing the Spurs, the T’Wolves may just have the higher upside.

T’Wolves have reason to believe

  • Did you know that Minnesota is one of only five NBA teams to defeat the Warriors in both of the last two seasons? (Bonus for only the truest of true GSOM followers: Can you guess the other four teams?)
  • The 2016 overtime collapse was the first ever Warriors game I took my girlfriend to (“I thought the Warriors never lose at home?” she curiously wondered as I silently fumed on the drive home).
  • Jimmy Butler is making his fourth All-Star appearance (first with Minnesota) and Karl-Anthony Towns has been selected to the party for his first time! That must feel great for that T’Wolves fan base! Do you folks remember when the Dubs were just hoping to get Monta Ellis in? Fast forward to now, where we are sending four players every year to soak in the festivities.
  • Minnesota’s defense is Cleveland/Sacramento bad, which is pretty hard to do. The Timberwolves are next-to-last in defensive field goal percentage (.476), have the 23rd lowest defensive rating (109.6). Even still, they are coached by defensive guru and Mr. Penguin body-double, Tom Thibodeau. I’d bet it’s only a matter of time before this defense turns into a proper buzzsaw, and we’re already seeing signs. Per an interesting read via the Star Tribune:

To Thibodeau, much of the team’s improvement on defense can be traced to the strides Towns is making. Both before and after Saturday’s lopsided victory over New Orleans, Thibodeau praised Towns’ recent play on both ends of the court. On offense, with the way he’s been moving the ball to the open man. And on defense.

“Defensively, he’s really starting to see things,” Thibodeau said. “He’s becoming more of a multiple-effort guy. The rebounding [Towns has 39 in his past two games], that’s as good as it gets. Part of it is experience. He has a lot of pride, and he works at it. And now he’s been around for a while, I think that’s big.”

When it comes to defense, Thibodeau preaches ball containment on the pick-and-roll, protecting the rim and the paint, then getting out and contesting three-point shots. Earlier in the season the Wolves often fell short.

“That’s where we were probably falling short early in the year,’’ Thibodeau said. “We were doing the first part, the second part, but falling short on the third and fourth. In today’s NBA, it’s critical. You have to. It’s a must.”

Since January 1st, Minnesota quietly has a 13th ranked defense based on defensive rating. Is Coach Thibs finally reaching this young roster?

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Portland Trail Blazers
Tom Thibodeau demanding more out of his team defensively
Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Fortunately for the Timberwolves fan base, the team already has a potent offense. They have a methodical pace that grinds out possessions, and although they don’t shoot much from distance (28th in the league in three-pointers attempted), they can flat-out score. They are ranked sixth in points-per-game (108.9), fifth in field goal percentage (47.6%), and fifth in free throw’s attempted per game (24.9).

Their point guard Jeff Teague is aggressive, their wings Butler and Andrew Wiggins are bruising slashers, and their center Towns is in the “future best player alive” conversation. In the last two annual NBA General Managers surveys, “Big Kat” was the answer to the question: “If you were starting a franchise today and could sign any player in the NBA, who would it be?”

But don’t take my word for it!

GSoM will be there in style

With this dangerous threat looming, it is only right that the annual Golden State of Mind Night take place this evening in support of the champions. We hope to see you there with us, rocking your totally fresh “The Golden Rule” tee.

Jacqui Smith via GSOM

It was created by Bay Area designer and GSoM follower Jacqui Smith, a.k.a. “GoldBloodedKween.” Even if you can’t come, you can still grab the tee, showing love for GSoM and the rulers of the NBA!

Not only that, but the Warriors will additionally be unveiling their new, official, “City Edition” Nike Alternate gear.


I expect the Warriors to have a tough battle with their upstart Western Conference foe until the very end if Jimmy Butler is available to play. However, if the All-Star misses this game, I expect this contest to be over in third quarter via Warriors blowout.

Gold-Blooded Prediction: Warriors 117, Timberwolves 107

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