After an embarrassing and deflating loss that all but ended the Golden State Warriors hopes of rising to the sixth seed, the Dubs are on the road for the start of a four-game road trip — their final road trip of the regular season.
Three comfortably below .500 teams await them for those four games, starting with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Whatever bad taste is still in the Dubs’ mouth after Tuesday needs to be washed out immediately. There’s work to be done.
Who: Golden State Warriors (31-31) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (19-44)
When: 5:00 p.m. PT
Where: Target Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota
TV: NBC Sports Bay Area (available on fuboTV)
Projected starting lineups:
Warriors: Stephen Curry, Kent Bazemore, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, Kevon Looney
Wolves: Ricky Rubio, Josh Okogie, Anthony Edwards, Jaden McDaniels, Karl-Anthony Towns
Warriors: Lost to the Mavs 133-103 — 3-2 in their last 5 games
Wolves: Beat the Rockets 114-107 — 4-1 in their last 5 games
Team ratings (garbage-time adjusted, per Cleaning The Glass):
Warriors: 109.9 offense (24th), 111.4 defense (9th), -1.4 net (21st)
Wolves: 108.8 offense (25th), 116.5 defense (28th), -7.7 net (27th)
DOUBTFUL: Kelly Oubre Jr.
OUT: Damion Lee
OUT: Eric Paschall
OUT: James Wiseman
OUT: Klay Thompson
OUT: Malik Beasley
The Wolves have not been a good team this year, but they’ve started to figure things out recently, thanks to the brilliance of Karl-Anthony Towns, the decision to start Ricky Rubio over D’Angelo Russell, and the move to slot No. 1 overall pick Anthony Edwards in the starting rotation.
They’ve won three straight, with two of those games coming against the Utah Jazz, one of the West’s elite. They’re not a team to be taken lightly, despite their record.
And given the Warriors recent trend of coming out extremely flat in the opening quarter, it’s vital that the Dubs find some early momentum and energy.
It’s an easy schedule for the final 10 games, but only if the Warriors actually take advantage of the games that should be easy.
Players to watch
Warrior to watch: Andrew Wiggins.
Steph Curry hasn’t had much help on offense lately — or at all this year. And it’s the main reason that Golden State has a bottom 10 offense despite having one of the best offensive players in NBA history.
Against his old team, the Warriors will need Wiggins to play a strong secondary scorer role, especially since Kelly Oubre Jr. is listed as doubtful.
Wolf to watch: Karl-Anthony Towns.
It’s easy to take Towns’ year for granted because he missed a chunk of games and the Wolves have been horrible. But what he’s doing remains remarkable: 24.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 1.3 blocks per game while shooting 39.1% from distance.
The biggest key to beating the Wolves is slowing down Towns. The second-biggest key is also slowing down Towns.
Matchup to watch: Steph Curry vs. Ricky Rubio and D’Angelo Russell.
Curry will forever be linked to Rubio and Russell — the former because Minnesota opted to draft Rubio in 2009 when Curry was on the board, and the latter because of the short, failed dual-PG experiment the Warriors tried with Russell a year ago.
The Wolves have been splitting playing time between their two lead guards, and Rubio can make life incredibly difficult on opposing scorers, while Russell can torch opposing defenders. Curry will likely spend a decent amount of time matched up with each.
Keys to victory
- Hold Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell to inefficient scoring nights
- Jump out to an early lead
- Score in transition
Get a win, Warriors. We’re imploring you.