After a thrilling overtime home win Friday night against the Orlando Magic, the Golden State Warriors (29-36) will host the Minnesota Timberwolves (17-50) tonight at Oracle Arena. The Warriors have won two of the three head to head match ups against the Wolves this season and will be hoping to maintain that same level of success against them.
On offense, the Wolves have averaged 106.3 points per game this season against the Warriors on 43.4% field goal shooting. Minnesota has put up a lot of points on the board against Golden State, however the shooting numbers have been mediocre at best. Indeed, the Wolves are able to generate a multitude of shots against the Dubs but their biggest problem is that they struggle to make them.
On the season, Kurt Rambis’ team shoots 43.9% from the field (27th in the NBA), so they are on par with that they typically do against the rest of the league. Their saving grace against the Warriors though, is their ability to snatch offensive rebounds. Lots of them. The Timberwolves lead the league in offensive rebounding, gathering 13.9 per game; but against the Dubs, that figure balloons to 21.3.
Although Minnesota does a great job of attacking the boards, it says a lot about their lack of discipline as far as shot selection goes. On the season, Golden State surrenders 26.0 shot attempts directly at the rim (fourth most in the NBA) and allows a conversion rate of 65.9% (fifth worst in the league). However, the Timberwolves have only averaged 21.3 shot attempts at the rim against the Dubs (keep in mind, several of those come courtesy of offensive rebounds).
Making matters worse, the Wolves are only converting 53.8% of their attempts at the rim against the Warriors as opposed to their season average of 61.2%. The length of the Golden State players bothers Minnesota and thus makes it difficult for them to finish around the basket.
On defense, Minnesota has surrendered 111.7 points per game on 48.8% field goal shooting in their three previous games to Golden State. The Timberwolves have done a great job defending the lane, allowing the Warriors to only shoot 17.3 shots at the rim on average thus containing them to just about 40.7 points in the paint per game. However, their willingness to pack the paint against the Dubs has left shooters open. Wide open. The Wolves have ignored the Warriors shooters more than Heat opponents have ignored Joel Anthony this season. Sounds like an exaggeration right?
In three games against Minnesota this season, Golden State has shot 36-for-72 from three-point range, which translates into 24 attempts per game and 50% shooting. Dorell Wright has been one of the main reasons for the Warriors torrid shooting against the Wolves, going 15-for-32 (46.9%) from downtown this season against them.
Complicating matters for the Wolves, their offense just cannot seem to take care of the ball. Against Keith Smart’s team, the Timberwolves are averaging 20.0 turnovers this season, which has allowed the Warriors to get out in transition and score 18.3 fast break points.
If the Warriors can continue to force turnovers and manufacture open shots from deep, they should be able to put up some points against a poor Timberwolves defense. If there is one area of concern however, it’s defending the long bomb. In their two wins against the Wolves, Golden State held Minnesota to 10-for-36 shooting from three point range; whereas in their lone loss, the Wolves converted 12-of-25 attempts from beyond the arc.
Minnesota game notes: In his last five games, Kevin Love has been Chamberlainesque, averaging 20.8 points and 18.8 rebounds on 53.5% field goal shooting.
Golden State game notes: Monta Ellis had been struggling with his shooting since the All-Star break, but he finally turned it around Friday night against the Magic as he scored 39 points on 14-for-24 field goal shooting and 7-for-9 three point shooting.