The Minnesota Timberwolves (28-40) have won five out of their last ten matches, but suffered consecutive defeats in their previous two road games to the Celtics and then to the Miami Heat, 105-123. Karl-Anthony Towns led the Wolves with a double-double of 31 points and 11 rebounds, Andrew Wiggins scored 26 points. Ricky Rubio had 20 points, six assists, and two steals, while Shabazz Muhammad contributed with 15 points off the bench. Wiggins is the player to watch for the visitors as he faces Solomon Hill in a rather favorable matchup, while Towns’ battle with Anthony Davis in the paint is probably the most interesting duel around the NBA tonight. Rubio’s contribution will also be crucial as he has improved offensively lately. The Wolves lost to the Pelicans at home over a month ago and would like to get the revenge with a win in Louisiana.
The New Orleans Pelicans (28-41) still have theoretic chances of getting into the playoffs but it doesn’t look good for them at the moment, as they are five wins behind the Denver Nuggets. New Orleans have won five out of their last ten games, including an upset of the Houston Rockets, 128-112, thanks to a great field goal percentage, 53.3%. Solomon Hill led the Pelicans with 30 points, seven assists, six rebounds, and two steals, Anthony Davis posted a double-double of 24 points and 15 boards, along with two blocks, Jrue Holiday had 19 points and six dishes, while Tim Frazier added 14 points, six assists, five rebounds, and two steals.
Davis is the man to watch for New Orleans as he faces Towns in a mouthwatering clash, while DeMarcus Cousins is back after missing the Houston match with a rib injury and he will be under the radar as he faces Gorgui Dieng.
Keys to the Game
Minnesota made only two three-pointers against Miami and if they don’t improve from downtown, I am sure they will suffer another defeat tonight. It is impossible to win a game without a decent percentage from beyond the arc, and the Wolves are really struggling in that segment since Zach LaVine suffered a season-ending injury back in early February. It will be tough for them to score many points from the interior against Davis and Cousins, so they will need to step up and make some threes.
New Orleans Pelicans
Although they made 12 threes against Houston, the Pelicans offensive gameplan revolves around Davis and Cousins in the paint and only if that doesn’t work, will they try with outside shots. Davis and Cousins could combine for 50-plus in this one, which will bring New Orleans one step away from victory, while the frontcourt duo will also have a responsibility to defend their own paint as they face the monstrous Towns.
Minnesota Timberwolves Projected Starting Lineup
PG – Rubio / SG – Rush / SF – Wiggins / PF – Dieng / C – Towns
Wiggins and Towns will likely score plenty of points for the visitors, but Rubio’s contribution on both offense and defense will be vital for the Wolves.
New Orleans Pelicans Projected Starting Lineup
PG – Holiday / SG – Selden / SF – Hill / PF – Cousins / C – Davis
Davis and Cousins will probably lead the hosts on the scoreboards, while Holiday, Hill, and Crawford could play a big role on the offense as well.
Both teams are not looking good enough to play in the playoffs this season but I am giving the slight advantage to the hosts to win this match.
Tip-off is at 6 pm ET – Smoothie King Center – New Orleans, LA.