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NBA: Game Preview #41: Wolves to tackle Rockets, likely without Edwards.

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As suggested by the Wolves only being favored by two points, Minnesota will likely be without Anthony Edwards (left hip soreness) for the primary time this season because the they appear to make it 4 wins in a row. Luckily, Edwards’ teammates will face the worst team within the NBA, the Houston Rockets. This must be a very good spot for the Timberwolves to try to get Edwards some rest not only tonight, but potentially also on Wednesday in Detroit.

Let’s get to it.

Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images

Who Steps Up Offensively Without Ant?

Regardless of who has been available to suit up alongside him, Edwards has played incredibly hard because the engine that drives the Timberwolves offense. Now, his teammates could have to search out a method to produce points against without him.

Thankfully, Houston has the twenty eighth ranked defense in keeping with Cleansing the Glass, largely because they permit more fast break points (17.2 per game) and more points off turnovers (21.5) than any team within the league. The Wolves might want to do their work there, considering that the Rockets have been stout on the inside, allowing the fifth fewest paint points (47.0) per game this season.

Jaylen Nowell is prone to start in Edwards’ place; Nowell and D’Angelo Russell have a very good matchup against the Rockets’ perimeter defense. Houston ranks twenty fifth within the league in brief mid-range field goal percentage (FG%) allowed (45%) per PBP Stats, which should profit them greatly when coming off screens from Rudy Gobert.

The Rockets’ interior defense has been good at stopping shots on the rim, but rank twenty sixth in opponent FG% on the rim (70%). Head Coach Chris Finch will once more must call offense that helps stimulate as much ball movement as possible in order that driving lanes and dump-off situations can open up. If that doesn’t occur, Gobert could have to attack the offensive boards again with the intention to make an impact offensively.

How much the Wolves get from Jaden McDaniels and Kyle Anderson shall be vital as well. They’ll have the peak and strength benefits against Eric Gordon and Jabari Smith Jr., respectively. Getting downhill shall be a key and people two should have the option to do it off the bounce.

Houston Rockets v Minnesota Timberwolves

Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images

Containing the Rockets Perimeter

The Rockets’ record may not show it, but they do have one among the league’s more dynamic back-court batteries in Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green. Those two have combined to average 47.0 points per game in Houston’s wins, in comparison with just 38.8 points across 29 losses.

McDaniels and Nowell (or potentially Austin Rivers) will likely be tasked with slowing the impressive pair down. Once they get into the paint, they’ve bene good at spraying the ball out to 2 solid shooters on the wing in Gordon and Smith Jr., who’re shooting 36.0% and 32.9%, respectively, from deep this season. Limiting their 3-point shooting opportunities shall be key, as I don’t foresee Green and Porter Jr. finding success consistently against Gobert, Anderson and McDaniels inside.

Minnesota

QUESTIONABLE:

  • Anthony Edwards (left hip soreness)
  • Bryn Forbes (right shoulder soreness)
  • Naz Reid (back spasms)

OUT:

  • Jordan McLaughlin (left calf strain)
  • Karl-Anthony Towns (right calf strain)

Houston

OUT:

  • Darius Days (G-League task)
  • Trevor Hudgins (G-League task)
  • TyTy Washington Jr. (G-League task)
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