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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Minnesota Timberwolves Preview

A Sunday matinee to enjoy with your coffee.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Minnesota Timberwolves Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (32-45) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (39-39)

The Portland Trail Blazers and Minnesota Timberwolves meet in Minneapolis for today’s matinee showdown in vastly different situations. The Timberwolves, ninth in the Western Conference and just 1.5 games back of the sixth spot, are trying to win and climb out of the play-in. The Blazers, carrying an injury report the size of “Infinite Jest” and owners of the NBA’s fifth-worst record, are trying to lose and continue their descent to the bottom.

Luckily for both teams, the goals of their situations dovetail conveniently for today’s game. Despite losing two in a row, Minnesota will likely stop their momentary skid and send Portland to a fifth consecutive loss. But the games are played for a reason, so maybe Shaedon Sharpe and company can pull of the upset.

Blazers vs. Timberwolves — Sunday, April 2, 2023 — 12:30 p.m. PT

How to Watch: Root Sports Plus, NBA League Pass

Blazers Injuries: Jerami Grant (out), Damian Lillard (out), Anfernee Simons (out), Jusuf Nurkic (out), Nassir Little (out), Justise Winslow (out), Keon Johnson (out), Ibou Badji (out), Cam Reddish (questionable), Trendon Watford (probable), Jeenathan Williams (probable)

Timberwolves Injuries: Naz Reid (out), Karl-Anthony Towns (game-time decision), Anthony Edwards (game-time decision)

SBN Affiliate: Canis Hoopus

What to Watch For

Mays’ Day. New guard Skylar Mays had a decent Blazers debut Friday night against the Sacramento Kings. Getting the starting nod, Mays put up 14 points and six assists on an efficient 5-8 shooting. He also went 3-6 on 3-pointers. Let’s see how Mays can do in his second game with Portland. While the Blazers aren’t playing for much at this point, these 10-day contract players are fighting for their NBA careers.

Another icebreaker. Adding new players to the roster this late in the season is rare in the NBA, but the Blazers are turning it into common practice these days. Fresh off the heals of Mays’ and Shaq Harrison’s arrival, here comes another new teammate. Welcome to Portland Jeenathan Williams! (And pour one out for Ryan Arcidiacono’s short-lived Blazers career). Williams, the 6’4 shooting guard who went undrafted in 2022, got plucked from the G-League just yesterday. He’s listed as probable on the injury report and if he’s good to go, expect the shorthanded Blazers to lean on his minutes heavily. How will he do?

The veteran. Drew Eubanks is no stranger to the situation Mays, Harrison and Williams find themselves in. Eubanks was signed to a series of 10-day contracts for an injury-riddled, tanking Blazers squad last year and parlayed that opportunity into a guaranteed NBA contract with the franchise this season. He’ll have a tough matchup against Rudy Gobert today, but the hard-nosed center can enjoy some big nights when the team is forced to play him big minutes. Look for his hustle, pick-and-roll game with Sharpe and hook shots to play a factor in this game.

What Others Are Saying talks about how Minnesota center Naz Reid’s indefinite absence due to a broken wrist is a big blow to the team. Reid suffered the injury on Wednesday against the Phoenix Suns.

Reid has been a valuable contributor for the Timberwolves’ frontcourt this season, averaging a career-best 11.5 points per game and 4.9 rebounds per game while also shooting 53.7% overall and 34.6% on 3-pointers (with a career-high 75 made 3-pointers). Although Reid is generally a reserve center for the Wolves, he did start 11 games this season and performed well, posting 16.5 ppg, 7.0 rpg and shooting 50% overall and 33.3% on 3-pointers.

Jack Borman of Canis Hoopus recaps Minnesota’s disappointing 123-111 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, a matchup that had serious postseason implications.

The Minnesota Timberwolves walked into Target Center on Friday night as the No. 8 seed anticipating a sold out crowd, with a chance to beat the LeBron James and the No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers and firmly entrench their position in the race for the No. 6 seed Western Conference.

Instead of seizing that opportunity, the Wolves allowed Lakers to punk them on their home floor in embarrassing fashion, 123-111, headlined by a 38-point, 17-rebound effort from Anthony Davis. They woke up on Saturday morning in the No. 9 spot, two full games back of the No. 6 seed Golden State Warriors and just one-and-a-half games ahead of the Dallas Mavericks, who hold the 11th spot.

Unfortunately for Timberwolves faithful who braved a blizzard to support the team, these types of performances have typified the fan experience in Downtown Minneapolis for the better part of the last two months. Minnesota is a woeful 1-6 in their last seven games at home, including three losses to teams playing on the second night of a road/road back-to-back. Conversely, the Wolves are 7-4 on the road in that same six-week span, including wins over six playoff teams — and they gave two of those losses away late in regulation or overtime.