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Portland Trail Blazers at Minnesota Timberwolves Preview

Portland looks to get over .500 on this road trip against one of their rivals.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Portland Trail Blazers Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (16-22) at Minnesota Timberwolves (14-22)

January 9, 2020- 5:00 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: Rodney Hood (out), Zach Collins (out), Jusuf Nurkic (out), Skal Labissiere (out)
Timberwolves injuries: Karl-Anthony Towns (questionable), Jake Layman (out)
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW
How to stream: Blazer’s Edge Streaming Guide
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: Canis Hoopus

Fresh off a nail-biting win against a strong opponent, the Portland Trail Blazers look to take down a division rival and continue the slow march back to .500.

Last time out, the Blazers overcame the Toronto Raptors, 101-99, thanks to a free throw line jumper by Carmelo Anthony with 3.3 seconds remaining. Anthony’s 28 points led Portland. The Raptors got 24 from Kyle Lowry.

Minnesota on the other hand fell to a different 16-22 foe, losing in Memphis to the Grizzlies 119-112. Rookie Jarrett Culver led Minnesota with 24 points, but lost the rookie battle with Ja Morant, who had 25 points and 7 assists for Memphis.

What to watch for

  • Night on the Towns. Minnesota star Karl-Anthony Towns is questionable after missing the last eleven games with a knee injury. Minnesota may choose to ease their big man back into the rotation, but if he does play, the Blazers will have their hands full. Towns can pull Hassan Whiteside away from the rim, and the Blazers’ injuries mean they do not have anyone big enough to contest him if Portland’s switches. Towns playing could easily make or break this game.
  • Not a Lot of Wiggins Room. Last time these two teams faced off, Andrew Wiggins went off to the tune of 33 points on 13-of-24 shooting. His length poses a challenge for the Blazers’ wings; Kent Bazemore was virtually helpless against him in the Moda Center. Containing Wiggins and frustrating him will be key, as Wiggins has never seen a shot he does not want to take, and can hurt the Timberwolves when he forces up shots.
  • Battle of Youth. In the last game together, Culver and Anfernee Simons combined for seven points. What a difference a month makes. Culver has scored in double-figures in each of his last five games, including a pair of 20-point outings, and Simons has hit 10+ points in five of his last seven games. Both players will be a force to watch.

What they’re saying

Eric in Madison of Canis Hoopus argued the Timberwolves should utilize a larger lineup once Karl-Anthony Towns returns:

First, the Wolves do not have the shooting to play small all the time. While I am glad to see their three point attempts significantly up after years of being way behind the league curve, they simply clank too many to make use of the natural advantage of playing small.

Kent Youngblood of the Minnesota Star-Tribune praised former Trail Blazer Shabazz Napier’s scoring touch for Minnesota:

Napier entered Tuesday’s game against the Grizzlies in Memphis having scored 20 or more points in four consecutive games, the best such streak in his six seasons. Not surprisingly, the Wolves won three of those four games.