The Portland Trail Blazers will welcome the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Moda Center tonight in a battle of 13-12 teams that had hoped to be doing just a bit better after 25 games of the season. Portland is coming off a disappointing last-second loss to conference rival Denver on Thursday night. Playing without All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns, the Timberwolves have still won three of their last four, with victories over the Memphis Grizzlies, Indiana Pacers, and Utah Jazz. That win came last night, though, so Portland should have the energy advantage—as well as the injury advantage—going into the game.
Minnesota Timberwolves (13-12) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (13-12)
Saturday, December 10th — 7:00 PM, Pacific
How to Watch: Root Sports Northwest, Bally Sports Midwest, NBA League Pass
Blazers Injuries: Gary Payton II (out), Nassir Little (out), Drew Eubanks (probable, ankle), Josh Hart (probable, ankle), Justise Winslow (probable, groin)
Timberwolves Injuries: Karl-Anthony Towns (out), Taurean Prince (out)
SBN Affiliate: Canis Hoopus
What to Watch For
Pace: The Timberwolves are Top 5 in the NBA in pace of play. The Blazers are 23rd. The ‘Wolves like to get out on the break and score in the lane. Quick hits and slices are the danger for Portland. If the Blazers can slow down Minnesota and make them take jumpers, the game gets much easier.
Pickpockets: Minnesota gets busy with their hands. They’re Top 5 in steals per play in the league. They don’t force turnovers at a huge rate, but if you let them snatch and run, they’ll run it up on you. The Blazers will want to take care of the ball to avoid pressure on their own offense to keep up.
Offensive Rebounds: Surprisingly, the ‘Wolves aren’t a great rebounding team. Portland loves offensive boards. Boosting the offense with second-chance points could provide an advantage to the Blazers.
Don’t Get Gobert-ied: Rudy Gobert’s transition to the Timberwolves has not been smooth, but in his last two games he’s registered 16 points and 21 rebounds, plus 22 points and 13 rebounds. Gobert is a nonesuch among centers. How the Blazers move him around—or whether they can, should Jusuf Nurkic get in foul trouble—could be a factor in this game.
Join us for our Game Day discussion thread, opening an hour before tip-off tonight!