MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES (7-3)
at GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (8-3)
Tip-off: Wednesday, 10:30 p.m. ET
Line: Golden State -11, Total: 229.5
The new-look Wolves get their first shot at the kings of the West.Heading into Monday night's game with the Heat, the Warriors had lost six straight games when scoring under 100 points—they hadn't won one since April of last year against the Spurs. But, despite a tough shooting night, Golden State broke that streak against Miami with an easy 97-80 win. It was the team's fourth straight victory, and their seventh in eight games after a surprising 1-2 start to the year. On Wednesday night the Dubs will host Minnesota in one of the more anticipated matchups of the young season, as the upstart Timberwolves have added superstar SF Jimmy Butler to a lineup that could pose a challenge to Golden State's Western Conference supremacy in years to come, if perhaps not this season. The Wolves are 7-3 on the year but 7-1 in games in which Butler has played, including recent victories over Dallas and Charlotte that have come by a combined 31 points. Minnesota has won five in a row. Over the last five seasons, teams coming off of three consecutive covers as a favorite (GSW) are 3-10 ATS in November games. Since 1996, road underdogs of 10 or more points allowing an opponent shooting percentage of at least .480 on the season (MIN) are 134-81 ATS.
The Warriors had trouble finding the mark against the Heat on Monday, shooting 29.2% from the floor in the first quarter before going on to shooting 36.8% on the night. As the final score suggests, though, the Heat fared worse (36.1%) thanks to some strong Golden State defense. The long-limbed Warriors also forced 23 turnovers from Miami, while committing only 15 of their own. Last season, the Warriors were second to only the Spurs in allowing 101.1 points per 100 possessions. Their defense hasn't been quite as stingy this year at a defensive rating of 102.9, but that mark is still good for 13th in the league and, as the Miami performance showed, they're gelling quickly. SF Kevin Durant led the team in scoring against the Heat with 21 points, while also pitching in eight rebounds and six assists. He's shooting 53.0% from the floor this year. SG Klay Thompson and PF Draymond Green are also at least at the 50.0% mark (50.8% and 50.0, respectively), a mark that is unsustainable but representative of the team finding plenty of open looks. Green was one of the few Warriors who shot well against the Heat, as he was 4-of-6 from three-point land. PG Stephen Curry leads the team in scoring at 25.7 PPG, but is yet to score more than 22 points in a game through three November contests.
It's no surprise that Butler has fit in so well considering he's coached by Tom Thibodeau, the guy whose system he bought into so fully in Chicago. Butler is an old-school, hard-nosed hard worker, and the fact that he emphasizes full effort on the defensive end of the floor despite his superstar status serves as a positive example for teammates. He's only scoring 15.1 PPG, putting him third on the team, and has taken different roles in the offense depending on the game. On October 27th, he scored 25 points in a tight win over the Thunder. This past Saturday, he only managed four points in a 112-99 win against Dallas. The Timberwolves' leading scorer (and rebounder and shot-blocker) is 21-year-old C Karl-Anthony Towns, whose scoring 21.8 PPG (10.9 RPG; 2.0 BPG). His 33 pt/19 reb and 31/12 lines in those OKC and Dallas games, respectively, show the kind of dominant force he can be on offense and the boards. His incredibly poor defense, though, has come under fire already this year. He certainly has the physical tools, and if Thibs of all people can't straighten him out on that end, it will soon become a real concern. PG Jeff Teague and PF Taj Gibson join Butler as new starters in Minnesota this season, and Teague is averaging a career-high 8.4 APG. Former No. 1 draft pick SF Andrew Wiggins has noticeably improved his offensive skills in what is now his fourth year in the league.