The San Antonio Spurs (7-4) will take on the Minnesota Timberwolves (3-7) tonight at the Target Center. The Spurs are coming off an impressive road win versus the Cleveland Cavaliers, while the Timberwolves are coming off a home win versus the New York Knicks.
With Ricky Rubio (ankle sprain), Kevin Martin (fractured right wrist), Thaddeus Young (personal), and Nikola Pekovic (sprained wrist) all out for Minnesota, the Spurs should have little trouble in picking up their eighth victory of the season, but there are a few keys to make it a sure thing.
-Spurs Must Control the Tempo
Despite Young and Rubio being out, the one advantage the Timberwolves have over most of the league is their athleticism. With Zach LaVine, Andrew Wiggins, Shabazz Muhammad, and Corey Brewer on the floor the Timberwolves want to make it an uptempo game. Despite being one of the worst teams in the Western Conference, the Timberwolves average 102 points a game and it’s mostly because most of their games involve many possessions. The Spurs must make it a half court game to have an easy time winning.
-Feed Tim Duncan
With Pekovic missing tonight’s game, Tim Duncan should have an even bigger game than he was supposed to have. Not that Pekovic can even contain Duncan, but he has more size and would have a better chance than the athletic Gorgui Dieng. Lets get one thing straight Dieng will be a player that could be a double double machine, but he can’t defend Duncan at this stage of his career. Expect a 20 points and 10 rebounds performance, despite it being a potential blowout for the Spurs.
-Bench Play Important
With all the injuries the Timberwolves are facing, the Timberwolves still have a few good players off their bench. It is possible that they will still have Zach LaVine and Anthony Bennett coming off their bench. Both players are due for a solid performance, as LaVine will focus to score more off the bench and Bennett getting extended minutes. The Spurs are definitely more reliable with an improved Cory Joseph, Marco Belinelli, and Manu Ginobili coming off their bench, but they can’t fall asleep.
-Spurs Must Keep Timberwolves off the Free Throw Line
The Minnesota Timberwolves are fifth in the NBA in free throw attempts at 27.4 a game. Martin leads their team at a little more than 5 free throw attempts a game, but they still have multiple guys that are capable of getting there multiple times a game. The Spurs will have an easy time winning, if they make the Timberwolves shoot from the outside as they are fifth worst three point shooting team in terms of makes and their best shooter (Martin) is out.