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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Minnesota Timberwolves Preview

Wait. These guys again?

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Minnesota Timberwolves Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (25-38) vs Minnesota Timberwolves (36-29)

The Portland Trail Blazers get another chance against the Minnesota Timberwolves after losing to them on Saturday by the score of 135-121. Most of the game was a lot closer than the score line indicates, but in the end the very short-handed Blazers couldn’t keep up with Karl-Anthony Towns and the rest of the Timberwolves.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are enjoying some real success right now. Winner of their last four and 12 out of the last 16, Minnesota isn’t just thinking about being in the playoffs but rather about having success in the playoffs. For now, their goal is racking up wins and avoiding the play-in.

Monday, March 7- 5:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: Root Sports NW, NBA League Pass
Blazers injuries: Damian Lillard (out), Nassir Little (out), Jusuf Nurkic (out), Eric Bledsoe (out), Didi Louzada (out), Joe Ingles (out), Justise Winslow (out), Anfernee Simons (out), Greg Brown III (probable), Elijah Hughes (probable)
Timberwolves injuries: McKinley Wright IV (out), Anthony Edwards (doubtful), Patrick Beverley (questionable), Taurean Prince (questionable), Naz Reid (questionable)
SBN Affiliate: Canis Hoopus

What To Watch For

  • No Ant. In a few short months Anfernee Simons has gone from “will he eventually earn the right to be an NBA starter at some point?” to “what kind of star will he be: just a star, a super-star or an elite super-star?”. Now we get to see what these Blazers look like without him. More minutes and more of the ball means opportunities for others, and you just never know who might take that opportunity. I’m going be watching between my fingers though just in case.
  • Energy. Portland put a scare into the Timberwolves faithful on Saturday, keeping a lead past half-time and keeping it close late into the third quarter. Portland attacked the rim with abandon and really made Minnesota pay for lax defense. If we are being honest though, there isn’t really a clear path for the shorthanded Blazers to win this game, but if they somehow do have a chance it’s going to be because the bring more energy that their opponents, not just when they have the ball but on the defensive side as well.
  • Karl-Anthony Towns. When Towns turned on the afterburners, the Blazers had no answer. It’s hard to see where the answer to Towns might come from in the rematch, but without it it’s going to be a tough game.

What Others Are Saying

When of the reasons for the Timberwolves success this season is down to the bench according to Chris Hines of the Star Tribune (email address or Facebook account required).

That off-court camaraderie has helped the Wolves bench become a force the second half of the season. The bench turned Friday’s game into a blowout and gave the Wolves their third-straight win. It helps, Reid said, when the bench has veterans like Prince and D’Angelo Russell, a starter who plays a lot with the bench unit, taking the reins on communicating and leading.

Jace Frederick of the Pioneer Press writes that Timberwolves are working on getting their mindset right as they push for the playoffs.

Russell said the key is to keep the focus on self improvement. The Timberwolves need to worry about the way they are playing more than how their opponent plays. Ahead of the all-star break, Patrick Beverley said it’s not about the opponent on any given night, it’s about growing and improving so the Timberwolves are in a position to truly compete with the teams like Phoenix and Golden State come playoff time.

Ever wonder what would happen if the floor cleaners don’t get off the floor in time?