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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Minnesota Timberwolves Preview

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The Blazers got back in the win column against Phoenix, and they’d like to get some payback at home against the Timberwolves.

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NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Minnesota Timberwolves Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (14-11) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (13-12)

December 8, 2018 - 7:00 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: CJ McCollum (game-time decision)
Timberwolves injuries: Jerryd Bayless (game-time decision)
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, NBA TV
How to stream: YouTube Live TV, Playstation Vue, Hulu Live TV, FuboTV
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: Canis Hoopus

The season starts now. Portland starts off a twelve-game slate against ten opponents with winning records, plus the pesky Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets. They got back on the winning track with an obliteration of the Phoenix Suns at home, and they now look to get some revenge for their November 16th loss against Minnesota.

The Timberwolves have won six of their last seven behind the assets acquired in the Jimmy Butler trade. Last time out, they beat the Charlotte Hornets in Minnesota 121-104. Karl-Anthony Towns had 35 points in the victory.

What to watch for

  • Feeling Defensive. Portland has dropped to 15th in the NBA in points allowed at 110.6 per contest. A great deal of that has been sloppy play on the perimeter, with the Blazers seemingly daring teams to shoot threes. Recent opponents have shown that even below average three-point shooters are still NBA players and can make shots if left alone. Portland cannot allow teams to fire at will anymore.
  • Wiggins and Rose. Last time out, Andrew Wiggins and Derrick Rose combined for 40 points and made life difficult for the Portland defenders. Towns is the star of the Minnesota squad, but he is not the only player who can score in bunches.
  • The Jake Layman Mystery. Jake Layman played against Phoenix after recording “DNP” in his previous six games. He responded with a career-high 24 points. While the Suns are hardly a good barometer for NBA play at the moment, Layman could make a solid case for minutes if CJ McCollum misses the game.

What they’re saying

Eric in Madison of Canis Hoopus writes how Minnesota has improved in the fourth quarter since the Butler trade:

They are clearly defending better, in large part thanks to their new defensive ace Robert Covington, and a renewed commitment from everyone on that end of the floor. Offensively, they are finally making use of Karl-Anthony Towns, their best and most efficient offensive player in a way they did not before due to the ball and shot dominance of Jimmy Butler.

Jim Souhan of the Minnesota Star-Tribune speaks on how trading Butler may have saved Tom Thibodeau’s job:

With another entertaining comeback victory, this time Wednesday night at Target Center against Charlotte, the Timberwolves are 9-3 since trading Jimmy Butler for Robert Covington and Dario Saric. Butler’s ghost should be the Star Tribune Sportsperson of the Year.