The Minnesota Timberwolves are set to wrap up a five-game Western Convention street journey for a battle with the New Orleans Pelicans, who’re taking part in on the second leg of a back-to-back after outlasting the Denver Nuggets 115-110 on Friday night time.
Right here’s a recap from Canis Hoopus New Orleans correspondent Larry Nance Jr.:
Anthony Edwards and Co. will look to make it eight wins of their final 9 earlier than returning residence for a three-game set at Goal Heart over the vacation week.
- Who: Minnesota Timberwolves (8-3) at New Orleans Pelicans (6-6)
- When: 6:00 PM CT
- The place: Smoothie King Heart
- TV: Bally Sports activities North (Michael Grady, Jim Petersen and Marney Gellner)
- Radio: Wolves Radio App, KFAN FM 100.3
- Line: Wolves -7.5, Complete: 220 (courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook)
Up to date as of 5:00 PM CT on Saturday:
- Jaylen Clark (proper achilles tendon rupture rehab)
- Jordan McLaughlin (proper knee MCL sprain)
- Leonard Miller (G League project/decrease again contusion)
- Wendell Moore Jr. (G League project)
- Jose Alvarado (proper ankle sprain)
- E.J. Liddell (G League project)
- CJ McCollum (proper lung small pneumothorax)
- Trey Murphy III (left knee partial meniscectomy)
- Larry Nance Jr. (proper rib fracture)
- Zion Williamson (relaxation)
What To Watch For
Will Zion Williamson Play?
Earlier than we will reply some other questions we could have about this one, Zion’s standing is an important domino to fall. Williamson didn’t play in each legs of the group’s first and solely back-to-back of the season; he noticed 33 minutes of motion within the first leg, a win over the Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder on Nov. 1, and sat the again half. The Pelicans star scored an environment friendly 26 factors on 10/17 capturing, whereas including six dimes, 4 boards and registering a game-high +21 throughout… 33 minutes on Friday, so time will inform if we see him on the market on Saturday.
New Orleans is 6-6 up to now this season, with a 5-5 mark in video games that includes the No. 1 general decide within the 2019 NBA Draft. However they fall off considerably in key classes when the previous Duke star is on the bench.
Per PBPStats.com, New Orleans’ offensive ranking dips from 113.1 to 108.0 with out him, whereas their opponent at-rim shot frequency (from 20.7% of opponent pictures to 32.4%) and shot proportion (from 60.1% to 69.9%) each skyrocket in his absence. One other key aspect that Zion brings is his capacity to break down the protection in the midst of the ground to create simple kick-outs to nook and slot shooters; with out him, it will be a lot more durable for New Orleans to generate clear appears to be like from these spots, which is essential towards a group like Minnesota who has endured stretches of each struggling to rebound 3-pointers and successfully forestall open appears to be like on them in latest video games. Moreover, the Pelicans’ offensive rebounding charge is 5.6% decrease with Zion on the bench (94th percentile influence, per Cleansing the Glass). For sure, the way in which the Pelicans play on each ends is kind of completely different with out their star.
Wolves followers could bear in mind final season when Zion dropped a career-high 43 factors on Minnesota in an unimaginable back-and-forth affair that got here all the way down to the wire on December 28. Williamson scored all 14 factors of the Pelicans’ factors within the ultimate 2:44 of the fourth quarter in one of the crucial dominant finishes to a sport I’ve ever seen.
The Wolves held New Orleans to a 93.5 half-court offensive ranking with an efficient area objective proportion of 42.4 with out Zion on Nov. 8 (each stats rank within the third percentile, per CTG), so the outlook modifications considerably in both route primarily based on Williamson’s availability.
Minnesota is already 1-0 towards New Orleans with out Zion this season and went 2-0 in these spots final season. Even with Jaden McDaniels on the wing and the Rudy Gobert/Karl-Anthony Cities up entrance, hope is a part of the technique towards Zion. You may throw as many our bodies at him as you need, however his otherworldly mix of energy, quickness, agility, explosiveness and feathery contact combined with a relentlessly aggressive scoring mindset creates an issue that even the most effective protection within the league is certain to have some severe points slowing down.
Can Anthony Edwards Get Again on Monitor?
Since being named the NBA Western Convention Participant of the Week on Monday for his four-game heater final week, Edwards has appeared usually passive on offense and disinterested on protection within the Wolves’ previous two video games. After taking 25, 22, 21 and 27 pictures (and attending to the free throw line a mixed 28 occasions) within the group’s 4 wins final week, Edwards took simply 16 pictures in every of the group’s final two video games whereas incomes solely 9 free throws.
Whereas I perceive the context of carrying a heavy load towards a stretch of nice groups taking part in each different day for 10 days, Edwards has to not less than be capable to defend at a excessive degree if he’s not going to be as aggressive as he may be offensively. Ant is way too impactful and necessary on the defensive finish, particularly on nights when McDaniels is ejected or guarding an unimaginable scoring expertise like Kevin Durant and desires his teammates to carry their very own whereas Durant inevitable will get his. If Williamson performs, it would not shock me to see Ant get some reps there, however he’ll principally be guarding Daniels and Brandon Ingram. On condition that each of them will see vital on-ball duties and may kill a protection from the center of the ground, Edwards retaining them at bay so Gobert isn’t over-extended within the mid-range shall be crucial.
After a number of days off to reset bodily, Edwards is in line for one more huge night time as he’ll seemingly draw 6-foot-7 guard Dyson Daniels. Whereas the Australian native is a stout defender, he struggles with huge, bodily guards and Edwards suits the invoice. Ant solely scored seven factors on 3/8 capturing with Daniels on him final week, however he usually beat Daniels off the bounce and set him up for screens; because of this, Edwards dished out six dimes to 1 turnover whereas they matched up.
The Wolves will want one other huge displaying from Edwards to construct some momentum because the group enters an necessary week towards sturdy competitors earlier than their schedule softens after Thanksgiving heading into the In-Season Event knockout rounds.
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