Game Preview: Golden State Warriors vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
In the penultimate game of the regular season, the Warriors will travel home to face the Minnesota Timberwolves.
After a tough overtime loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday night, the Dubs find themselves only a half game ahead of the Dallas Mavericks for the West’s sixth seed, though with any first-round matchup promising to be tough, it doesn’t particularly matter where Golden State finishes.
The game isn’t the final contest of the season–that’ll take place Wednesday against the Nuggets–but it is the final home game for the Warriors until the playoffs, and in a season in which the Dubs were far from dominant at home, they’ll certainly be looking to close out on a high note, at the very least.
The Timberwolves have struggled on the road this season, going 16-24 away from Target Center, which bodes well for the Warriors. Wolves power forward Kevin Love had been struggling in the month of April, heading into Sunday night’s contest shooting .416 overall from the field (.286 on threes), but he exploded for 43 points on 12-of-23 shooting, so he’ll be riding some momentum heading into the game.
Minnesota Timberwolves (40-40) Projected Lineup:
PG: Ricky Rubio
SG: Kevin Martin
SF: Corey Brewer
PF: Kevin Love
C: Gorgui Dieng
Key Bench Players: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, J.J. Barea
Keys to a Warriors Victory:
Keep Corey Brewer Out of the Paint
It feels odd to be writing that because, well, it’s Corey Brewer. But even while playing in a lineup that was missing three regular starters, Brewer went off for 51 points against the Rockets on Friday, with the majority of his points coming inside. While he slumped to a 2-of-8, 10 point performance on Sunday, it’s still worth keeping an eye on the Wolves small forward on Monday night.
It’s no secret that the Wolves aren’t exactly a defensive powerhouse in the paint. The team ranks 26th in the NBA in points allowed while only allowing eight three-pointers per game. That means most of the points come inside, with Kevin Love’s defensive struggles and regular center Nikola Pekovic’s injury. (Though Harrison Barnes might like to see the Montenegrin big man back in the lineup.)
Ricky Rubio is also an underrated defender, and coupled with Corey Brewer, a defensive specialist, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson won’t get quite as many opportunities from beyond the arc. With Andrew Bogut’s potential absence, it will be up to David Lee to come up big on Monday night.
7:30 PST, April 14, 2014
ORACLE Arena, Oakland, CA
Radio: KNBR 680 AM