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Wham's Game Day Preview: Cavs @ Timberwolves

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After a disappointing home loss to the injury ravaged Miami Heat, the Cavs make their annual visit to Minnesota to engage the 3rd place Timberwolves, who are 23-9 at home. These teams played in Cleveland just two weeks ago with the Cavs winning in overtime. Mitchell, Mobley, and Strus were out for the Cavs while Karl-Anthony Towns was out for Minnesota. Naz Reid poured in a season high 34 points off the bench to send it to overtime but Rudy Gobert fouled out and the Cavs prevailed.

The T-Wolves have won 5 of their last 10 but the losses were all to strong teams: Denver, Cleveland, the Lakers, the Clippers, and Sacramento. The Wolves are 1.5 games out of the top seed in the West.

Towns is still out for the Wolves while Mitchell, Mobley, Strus, and Wade remain out for Cleveland. The Wolves lost to Denver by 3 points on Tuesday with Rudy Gobert and Naz Reid out in addition to KAT. Gobert, Reid, and their MVP candidate Anthony Edwards are all listed as game time decisions. If they’re all out in addition to KAT the Wolves will be missing their top four scorers and their top four rebounders, which means the Cavs have no chance since they always play their worst against injury depleted lineups.

The Wolves had Wednesday and Thursday off so they will be well-rested for this game.

Minnesota leads the NBA in scoring defense and is 20th in scoring offense, so they are similar to the Cavs who are 5th in defense and 18th in offense. Offensively the Wolves are 12th in points in the paint and 20th in 3-point rate, so they prefer to take it inside. But they are very accurate 3-point shooters, ranking 4th at 38.6%. It appears they are selective in their 3-point shots and mostly take high percentage looks.

They don’t bang the offensive glass much, but they rank 7th in defensive rebounding. With KAT out and possibly Gobert, they could be move vulnerable to offensive rebounds. They also turn the ball over more than average.

Two weeks ago the Cavs would have smoked the Wolves if not for Naz Reid having a career game, hitting 7-of-8 three-point shots. Reid is a career 36.7% shooter who is hitting 41.4% from deep this year. If he plays the Cavs can’t leave him undefended on pick-and-pops like they did last time.

On defense the Wolves lead the NBA in preventing points in the paint and are 4th in effective field goal percentage. If Gobert is out it will obviously be easier to score in the paint. The Wolves are the best at defending 2-point shots and rank 4th in defending 3’s.

Two weeks ago the score at the end of regulation was 97-97 which is what you would expect from two teams that excel on defense but are below average on offenses with both their top scorers out.

On paper the Wolves should easily prevail since they are 23-9 at home and the Cavs are missing four of their top eight players including their best player. But the Cavs have been yo-yoing between good and bad games lately and after the loss at home to Miami they are due for a bounce back.

The wild card, of course, will be the availability of Gobert, Edwards, and Reid. With KAT already out this could be a battle of the benches if the Wolves are missing those three. That's 75 points and 32 rebounds the Wolves will be missing, including KAT's numbers.

Injury report

Dean Wade - OUT (knee)
Ty Jerome - OUT (ankle)
Evan Mobley - OUT (ankle)
Max Strus - OUT (knee)
Donovan Mitchell - OUT (knee)

Rudy Gobert - QUESTIONABLE (ribs)
Anthony Edwards - QUESTIONABLE (finger)
Naz Reid - QUESTIONABLE (head)
Jaylen Clark - OUT (achilles)
Karl Anthony-Towns - OUT (knee)


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