The Golden State Warriors continued on their tank path in the previous game, eventually succumbing to the Houston Rockets despite a promising opening half. For a team as short-handed as the Warriors are right now, there is definitely such a thing as a moral victory.
Tonight, the second game of this road trip brings up a new opponent that is somewhat lower on the NBA pecking order, but the Minnesota Timberwolves are still a superior team (on paper) to the dregs of a roster that the Warriors are using this season. D’Angelo Russell could return tonight, so we got that goin’ for us — which is nice.
WHO: Golden State Warriors (2-6) at Minnesota Timberwolves (4-3)
WHERE: Target Center — Minneapolis, MN
WHEN: Friday, Novermber 8, 2019; 5pm PST
Blog Buddy: Canus Hoopus
How good do these Warriors really want to be?
The question facing the Warriors right now isn’t how good they are (they are not good), but rather how good do they want to be. For a team that is operating without any of it’s top end talent, the Warriors have been remarkably fun to watch. Since Stephen Curry and D’Angelo Russell went out, the team has turned the keys over to it’s youth movement. The results, while far from perfect, have awakened a hunger that has long lain dormant for Golden State’s fan base.
First against the Portland Trail Blazers and then the Houston Rockets, Golden State has started games in a shockingly competitive fashion before eventually succumbing to the overwhelmingly superior rosters.
Now, the injury bug is beginning to lift:
D’Angelo Russell (ankle) is on track to return tomorrow vs. Minnesota.— Connor Letourneau (@Con_Chron) November 7, 2019
But the question is how much will Russell move the needle on this team — and how much do the fans want him to? The opening of the glamorous new digs at Chase Center in San Francisco haven’t gone according to plan, and while the team scrambles to correct the pricing, many fans are perfectly content to sit a season aside and grab a high draft position so that Curry, Klay Thompson, and others can return and pull the ol’ “I’m not left handed” move on the league.
Regardless of the end results this year, watching young players like Eric Paschall, Damion Lee, and Ky Bowman flourish has been a joy.
How good are the Timberwolves?
It almost doesn’t matter for this game, since the Warriors are so short-handed they’ll be at a disadvantage against pretty much any other NBA team right now. But just for fun, let’s take a look at Minnesota.
Led by the dangerously effective offensive power of Karl Anthony-Towns, the Wolves are one of those teams that is perched on the shoulder of the playoffs. Too good to land nice draft picks, but just shy of the edge that would allow them to advance past the regular season. The team will go as far as Towns and his supporting cast can take them.
After starting the season strong, Minnesota has now dropped their last two games, first to the Milwaukee Bucks, and then most recently, the Memphis Grizzlies. Backcourt mates Jeff Teague and Shabazz Napier both missed the last game and both are currently listed as day-to-day.
According to basketball reference, the Wolves are the fastest team in the game right now, leading the entire NBA in pace of play. Unfortunately for them, they are not efficient on either end, coming in 17th on defense, and 18th on offense resulting in a net rating that is barely in the positive.
This is a team that the Warriors could beat, with or without Russell — if the Wolves meet them halfway and have a bad night.
Russell will return, and the tandem work he does with Paschall will be impossible for the Wolves to stop. Unfortunately, there’s everything else... so I’m going to go out on a limb and predict a Warriors loss tonight.
May the tank roll as it sees fit, and all of us be filled with gratitude and good health.