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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Minnesota Timberwolves Preview

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The Trail Blazers face the Timberwolves on a home back-to-back.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Minnesota Timberwolves Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (12-16) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (10-17)

December 21, 2019 - 7:00 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: Rodney Hood (out), Zach Collins (out), Jusuf Nurkic (out), Nassir Little (day-to-day), Carmelo Anthony (out)
Timberwolves injuries: Karl-Anthony Towns (day-to-day), Jake Layman (out)
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW
How to stream: Blazer’s Edge Streaming Guide
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: Canis Hoopus

The Portland Trail Blazers welcome the Timberwolves to Portland following a victory over the Orlando Magic 118-103. Damian Lillard led the Blazers in scoring with 36 points, while CJ McCollum came in just behind with 31. Hassan Whiteside marked his 13th straight double-double with 10 points alongside 17 rebounds. Carmelo Anthony left in the first half with a knee contusion, but he expects to play against the Timberwolves.

The Minnesota Timberwolves arrive in Portland after a loss to the Denver Nuggets 109-100. Andrew Wiggins contributed 19 points, while Gorgui Dieng had 18 points with six rebounds. Beyond the arc, Minnesota was 6 of 36, and without shots falling, they could not keep up with the Nuggets. The game against Portland is the second in a travel back-to-back.

What to watch for

  • Points in transition. Against the Magic, the Blazers were able to take advantage of fast break points, winning the battle 21-11. This is something to exploit against the struggling Timberwolves, provided that the Blazers come out with more energy than their opponent.
  • Turnovers. Portland had 20 turnovers versus Orlando, and it’s clear they need to clean up their game to succeed on the second night of a back-to-back, even if it’s at home. Turnovers breed themselves in exhaustion, but at the same time, they decrease when a team finds themselves in rhythm.
  • Fouls. The Blazers had trouble with fouls down the stretch against the Magic, and like turnovers, they need to keep it clean to lift themselves over the Timberwolves. It’s too easy to get sloppy when tired.

What they’re saying

Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune digs into the Timberwolves’ struggles so far this season, including a reflection from Gorgui Dieng:

Dieng, one of the most veteran Wolves, wasn’t mincing words Thursday, saying the current streak has been hard to take.

“Sometimes you lose and you got to keep our composure, especially me and everybody else,” he said. “It’s hard. It’s the NBA. Nothing is given easy. … Early in the season, I think we had a new system teams didn’t know. They sleep on us. We beat everybody, and now we drew attention to ourselves. We’ve just got to be more focused.”

Over at Canis Hoopus, markohagan examines the trade possibilities for Minnesota:

Let me preface all of these rumors and reactions with this: if your name isn’t Karl-Anthony Towns, you are (and should be) very available in any and all trade talks. The start of the season was nice, but it’s been made obvious that this is a one-year roster. Because of how bad the middle/bottom of the West is this season, the Wolves are technically still in the playoff race, but it would be foolish to chase the 8th seed instead of focusing on building a winner moving forward. If they were chasing at somethi3dw2ng like a mid-40s win total, I’d be all for it, but that just isn’t the case.

Dane Moore of Zone Coverage examines how the holiday shopping event hosted by the Timberwolves makes a difference for local youth through the lens of his own experience:

But this type of event is even more that that. It carries an extra weight. These kids on Tuesday night at Target weren’t asking for an autograph or hoping for a selfie — though those things definitely happened. Without asking, they received the opportunity to purchase gifts they wouldn’t otherwise have had the means for. That fresh copy of NBA 2k20 wasn’t showing up under the tree without this event. And they wouldn’t have been able to buy Mom that comfy blanket without this night, either. I know that because I was once one of those kids.