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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Minnesota Timberwolves Preview

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The Blazers need to lick their wounds and pick up the pieces as the Timberwolves come to town.

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Portland Trail Blazers v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Portland Trail Blazers (3-4) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (2-5)

The Portland Trail Blazers try to shake off Tuesday’s embarrassing loss as the Minnesota Timberwolves come to the Moda Center. While the Wolves’ franchise big man Karl-Anthony Towns will not play, the Blazers are guaranteed nothing, following the team’s Jekyll and Hyde start to the season.

Thursday January 7 - 7 p.m. PT
How To Watch: NBCSNW, NBA TV, or see games all season on fuboTV, follow on ESPN+, or the ESPN/Disney Bundle*
Blazers Injuries: Zach Collins (out)
Timberwolves Injuries: Karl-Anthony Towns (out), Josh Okogie (out), Jaylen Nowell (out)
SBN Affiliate: Canis Hoopus

*Blazer’s Edge receives a commission when you subscribe through these links.

What To Watch For

  • Which Blazer team shows up. In just seven games, Blazer fans have already experience the full gamut of sporting emotions. Beating the Lakers at Staples Center was clearly the pinnacle, but you could toss a coin as to the actual lowest point with staggering losses to the Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors and Chicago Bulls. Which Portland team will show up against the Wolves?
  • Jusuf Nurkic. To dunk or not to dunk, that is the question. And Nurkic has clearly answered with the latter. The Bosnian big man is out of sorts on both sides of the ball and until he gets back into the swing of things, the Blazers are severely disadvantaged.
  • After half time. The third quarter slump has become as familiar to the Blazers as Coach Stotts’ plaid jackets. But against the Bulls it was the entire second half. Clearly there is something wrong with the Blazers after the main break, especially when Stotts’ motivational words fall short.

What Others Are Saying

Minnesota media is high on the development of forward Jarred Vanderbilt, who’s had a strong start to the season, according to Jace Frederick of the Twin Cities Pioneer Press.

“This is a Wolves team that, without star center Karl-Anthony Towns, has proven it can get static and lack energy. There already have been countless occasions in this young season where a flat Minnesota needed a jumpstart. Thus far, Vanderbilt has always been revved up.”

“Saunders said the Wolves are “continuing to look for fight.” Vanderbilt has that in spades. And it’s not just effort he brings, either. He does not possess the offensive skillset of a Naz Reid, but his defense and his at least sporadically good screen setting are improvements.”

There are concerns about the form of Wolves veteran Ricky Rubio who has been less than impressive since his return to Minnesota, says Chris Hine of the Star Tribune.

“Rubio had his worst night so far in a Wolves uniform with zero points on three shot attempts to go with two assists in 21 minutes as the Wolves lost 123-116. This comes after Rubio played only 18 minutes and scored six points against Denver on Sunday.

Rubio did not speak postgame but (Coach Ryan) Saunders addressed what he has to do to help Rubio get going.

“I think it’s just finding a rhythm,” Saunders said. “I got to help get him in the spots where he can make decisions, make other players better in transition. If we get stops he can play faster and he forces us to play faster there.”

Unfortunately for former Blazer Jake Layman, minutes on the court are becoming harder to come by, notes CBS Sports.

“Layman began the season in the staring lineup but has seen his role shrink amid struggles on offense and defense. He’s averaging just 7.3 points and 0.8 rebounds in 16 minutes per game over his last four contests.”

UPDATE

Rodney Hood will return tonight.