Game Preview #13: Minnesota Timberwolves at Cleveland Cavaliers


First Look at Indiana

Minnesota and Indiana will battle for the first time this season, the first of two regular season games with the second and final matchup taking place December 7 in Minneapolis. Last year, the Wolves owned the two-game series taking both games by an average margin of victory of 5.5 points.

Wednesday’s contest will feature two high-scoring offenses, with the Pacers ranking fifth in the league with 116.8 points per game and the Timberwolves coming in 11th with 114.3 points per game. Both squads also distribute and share the ball as well as any other team in the NBA, with Indiana ranking second in assists (28.5) and Minnesota ranking ninth (27.1).

Defensively, the Wolves are the superior team in comparison to the Pacers. Minnesota holds a defensive rating of 110.6 (tied for 11th) along with averaging 8.4 steals per game (fifth), while Indiana enters with a mark of 111.8 (tied for 16th).

Battle of the Winning Streaks

Wednesday’s contest features two of the hottest teams in the NBA as of late, as both the Wolves and Pacers enter the game with winning streaks of four games or more.

Minnesota is coming off a comeback victory Monday night at home against Miami, using a strong third quarter to erase an early deficit to continue its winning ways. The Wolves are riding a four-game win streak, their longest of the season and the third-longest active streak in the NBA.

Over the course of that streak, the duo of Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards has led the way for Minnesota, with Towns averaging 24 points, 8.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists and one steal and Edwards tallying 23 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.8 steals over the last four games.

Los Angeles Lakers v Minnesota Timberwolves

Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

Indiana is coming off its biggest win of the season on Monday against Orlando, extending its winning streak to five straight games to hold the second-longest active streak in the league behind the Sacramento Kings’ seven-game streak. During that stretch, three of those five wins have come at home in Indiana.

Part of the Pacers’ hot streak as of late has been thanks to the play of Tyrese Haliburton, who has been on a tear this season. The third-year star earned himself Eastern Conference Players of the Week honors on Monday. Haliburton enters Wednesday averaging a team-best 20.4 points and NBA-best 10.7 assists along with 4.6 rebounds, 1.8 steals and a shooting mark of 49.8% from the field.

Can Wolves Stay Hot?

Minnesota is seeing its best stretch of the regular season so far — as is Indiana — so the question heading into Wednesday night’s game is if the Wolves will be able to stay hot to extend their winning streak to five in a row.

Minnesota’s offense has stepped up during the last four games, averaging 118 points (tied for sixth-best mark) while shooting 49.7% from the field (sixth in NBA) and 35% from 3 (14th in NBA). The Wolves offensive uptick has also resulted in a spike in team assists, averaging 29 assists per game which is top five in the league over the last four contests.

The Wolves defense has also stepped up to counter the offensive positivity, ranking ninth in the league with a defensive rating of 107.5 while averaging 9.5 steals (second in NBA) during the win streak.

Minnesota will aim to continue the recent hot stretch against a team that is going through a similar streak as of late, although it won’t be an easy task on the road where the Wolves are 4-3 away from home to counter Indiana’s home record of 6-3 this season.


Minnesota Timberwolves

QUESTIONABLE

  • Kyle Anderson — Back Spasms
  • Jordan McLaughlin — Calf Strain

Indiana Pacers

QUESTIONABLE

  • Kendall Brown — G-League Assignment
  • Isaiah Jackson — Ankle Sprain
  • Andrew Nembhard — Knee Bruise
  • Trevelin Queen — G-League Assignment

OUT

  • Chris Duarte: Ankle Sprain
  • Daniel Theis: Knee Surgery

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