Timberwolves vs Warriors – NBA Pick for January 25th
- Spread: Warriors -12
What is clearly the most highly-anticipated game on the NBA’s abbreviated 4-game schedule on Thursday features a pair of Western Conference powerhouses. The Minnesota Timberwolves, who enter this game at 31-19 and fourth in the West, will take on the conference-leading 38-10 Golden State Warriors.
Unfortunately, the Wolves may not be at full strength tonight. Minnesota All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler is listed as questionable as he continues to deal with a sore right knee. Butler has missed each of the last 3 games with the malady, though the Wolves were impressively able to pick up quality wins over the Raptors and Clippers without him. Last night they were beaten in a high-scoring affair in Portland by the Trail Blazers.
Minnesota’s chances of making this a competitive game hinge largely on Butler’s potential availability. Going into Oracle Arena is tough for any team at full strength, but the Wolves will be up against it even more if he’s unable to go. It’s also worth mentioning that this is the Wolves’ third game in 4 nights, all on the road, while the Warriors have been chilling at home for the last few days after beating the Knicks on Tuesday night.
Nemanja Bjelica would presumably draw a fourth straight start tonight if Butler sits it out. While the Serbian sharpshooter has filled in admirably, more of the Timberwolves’ offense flows through Andrew Wiggins whenever Butler doesn’t play. Wiggins’ usage rate surges to 30.8 percent without Butler on the floor this season, which leads the team. It’s also a 5.5 percent bump over the number whenever he and Butler share the floor.
Wiggins has drawn his fair share of ire for his perceived lack of improvement over the last several years. He’s fallen by the wayside a bit this year, but the last few games have given us a glimpse into how impactful he’s capable of being as a focal point. In the last 3 games without Butler, Wiggins is averaging 31 points on sizzling 59 percent shooting from the field. That shooting probably can’t keep up, but his play over the last few games has been highly impressive.
Obviously, the Wolves will need that version of Wiggins to show up tonight if they have plans at pulling the upset.
With Wiggins having taken over the offense, Karl-Anthony Towns has somewhat curiously taken a backseat. Towns hasn’t shot more than 9 times in any of the last 3 games. He’s still been hitting the glass, but it’s still a little weird to see arguably Minnesota’s best healthy player getting fewer shots than guys like Jamal Crawford and Jeff Teague.
The Warriors don’t really have anybody that looks like a good matchup to guard KAT, so here’s hoping the Wolves look to get him involved offensively early and often. In 4 meetings with Golden State last season, Towns averaged 21.8 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. He figures to see some Kevin Durant tonight, but KD isn’t really beefy enough to handle Towns on the block.
The Warriors have continued to pile up wins, but they haven’t really been as dominant as expected of late. Their last game against the Knicks had all the makings of a shellacking. New York was playing without All-Star Kristaps Porzingis, while the Dubs had a full complement of players. The Warriors let the Knicks hang around, though, and only wound up winning by 11 in a game that had a larger point spread.
It’s been a while since we’ve seen a classic Warriors 30-point drubbing in which the starters sit for the entirety of the fourth quarter. That said, this game tonight certainly has that possibility. The Timberwolves figure to be a bit fatigued on top of being short-handed. Tom Thibodeau is never shy about playing his stars heavy minutes, which is something that could certainly catch up with this team in the long run.
This game has the makings of a blowout, especially if Butler isn’t able to suit up.