Opponent Scouting: Minnesota Timberwolves. (2-2)
Tonight at 7:00pm EST the Pistons will host the Minnesota Timberwolves at the LCA. The Pistons are on one day of rest following a loss to the 76ers on Monday, and the Timberwolves are on the second night of a back to back after a loss to the Pacers last night. It should be noted that they got beaten by so much that they pulled their starters with like 5 minutes to go and, lets just say they probably won't be too wiped out after their effort last night.
A lot of people think the Timberwolves are going to be good this year, I don't count myself among them but they do have a ton of talent. Karl-Anthony Towns is a highly skilled big man on offense who can do pretty much everything, but he is still looking pretty terrible on defense. Andrew Wiggins can score in isolation and is shooting well from deep in the early going, but his lack of other aspects in his game is pretty well documented. Jimmy Butler is their best player who is a bulldog on defense and mean isolation scorer on offense who is also a good passer. Jeff Teague is pretty much the definition of a league average point guard on both ends of the floor, Taj Gibson is a rude defender with decent offensive touch although his range is pretty limited. Jamal Crawford is somehow still playing 22 minutes on this team, he can get some buckets but hasn't actually been any good for like two years. Shabazz Muhammad can't shoot but is a good athlete with a bullying post up game, Tyus Jones is young and can do basic point guard things but doesn't really stand out much. Nemanja Bjelica is a big guy who can really shoot the deep ball but is a bit limited in other areas, and Gorgui Dieng is another big with nice offensive touch and some defensive skill.
In the end the Timberwolves have a lot of skilled players, but they are still super young and a lot of the pieces don't mesh very well right now. They have very minimal spacing and the youngsters are still struggling to play consistent defense. It is possible that they turn it around or that Jimmy Butler is just so good that they make the playoffs anyways, but it will be harder than many people predicted.
Matchups to watch:
Jimmy Butler vs. Playing: Jimmy Butler did not play last night with an upper respiratory infection. It was apparently bad enough that they had him go home and he was not even on the bench. Given that I would guess he will be out tonight, but Thibs isn't known for giving guys extra days off. Regardless, he is hugely important to their success.
Drummond vs. Towns: Drummond will have another tough assignment with KAT just after having Joel Embiid, fortunately KAT is not nearly the defender Embiid is. KAT isn't soft, but he certainly isn't a banger, and Andre has done really well against him. The evening factor is KAT's jumper, which will pull Andre from the hoop.
Pistons vs. Gang-rebounds: The Timberwolves have other guys who can crash the glass, and Andre is going to be out guarding Towns a lot. This means that other Pistons players will have to be able to clean the glass, which has often been a struggle for them.
Pistons vs. Big wing scorers: If Butler is out, then Stanley will get Wiggins, otherwise Stanley has Butler and Bradley has Wiggins. Either way it will be hugely challenging. Both guys have had some issues with foul trouble in the early going and they will have to be very disciplined to avoid it tonight.
Ish vs. Pass First: Ish is much better when he is looking to pass and not to shoot. He has been looking for his own shot too much in the early going of this season and it has hurt the bench mob quite a bit.
Pistons vs. Sound Defense: The Wolves are not going to hit the Pistons with anything crazy, and the Pistons can pack the paint big time. Especially if Butler is out, the Pistons should be able to make things very hard on the Wolves, if they are lazy or slow then the talent of the Wolves can suddenly tip the scales.
So in conclusion...
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Andre is abusing KAT on the inside again.
Jimmy Butler doesn't show up and neither does the Wolves' defense.
Timberwolves players are constantly driving into a paint only to be met by all 5 Piston defenders.
Run for the hills if:
KAT is raining fire from deep.
The Pistons are too stupid to pack the paint.
The Wolves come out with real fire after a whooping last night.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
The Wolves don't play a lot of defense.
KAT hits a lot of jumpers but Andre dominates the paint on both ends.
Stanley avoids foul trouble and gives Wiggins lots of trouble. (plz)
The Wolves look tired and still look disinterested for a Pistons victory.
Pistons 111 – Wolves 98.
What do you think? Can Andre have his way in the paint? Will the Pistons be able to gang-rebound?