The Brooklyn Nets and the Minnesota Timberwolves are that Spiderman meme where there’s two Spidermen pointing at each other; I am you, you are me. Two teams that had lots of upside and potential heading into the season now clinging on to hope as the playoffs draw near.
The Wolves are fighting as hard as they can to stay out of the play-in round, sitting at 7th out West while the Nets are in the same boat clinging onto 6th place in the East.
DraftKings betting odds has the Nets currently at +9000 to come out of the East, while the Wolves are at +12000 to win the West.
At one point the Nets were down to +300 odds, of course prior to both big trades, and the Wolves started the season with an over/under of 48.5 wins which would be a herculean effort to get there.
The last time theses two teams played each other in Minneapolis was in the preseason, and Kevin Durant squared off against Karl-Anthony Towns.
Fun stuff, too.
Where to follow the game
YES Network on TV. WFAN on radio. Tip after 8:00 p.m. ET.
The Nets were in the red on Thursday night against the Bucks, missing five key players due to injury and rest. Other than Ben Simmons, everyone is back, ready to go.
Minnesota will once again be without Karl-Anthony Towns (calf) who reportedly is “close” to returning, and Jaylen Nowell who is dealing with a knee injury.
Brooklyn enters Friday night coming off a historic loss to the Bucks in Milwaukee. Let’s hope we don’t get a repeat of said loss and/or history in this one.
If anyone can kind of relate to what the Nets are going through it’s the Minnesota Timberwolves. They entered the season with a ton of potential and excitement as they went all-in on winning this season by making a huge offseason trade for Rudy Gobert.
The idea was to pair Gobert’s inside game with Towns’s outside game and then utilize the slash-and-three abilities of both Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell to make it hard for teams to defend them.
Well, that didn’t play out as expected, as you know. Russell is gone, Towns has been a non-walking injury and Gobert has been a bit of a disappointment.
If there’s something you can hang your hat on for these Nets is that the Wolves offense is just not that good. They rely a lot on their defense to keep them in games and without a reliable second scorer next to Edwards they can struggle a bit when the game paces out of control (i.e. Wednesday night’s game against Joel Embiid and the 76ers).
Player to watch: Anthony Edwards
Edwards is off to a hot start in the month of March, especially from beyond the arc where he is averaging 4 threes per game on just under 50 percent shooting.
The All-Star wing is having his best scoring season in his young career and showing an improved efficiency from three shooting just under 37 percent from beyond that arc at 7.3 attempts per game.
He’s a matchup nightmare for any team but if there’s one thing the Nets do have plenty of on their roster it’s athletic wings; so they’ll throw everything they have at Edwards and force the Wolves to turn to veterans like Mike Conley and Taurean Prince to carry some of the load.
Problem for the Wolves is that if Edwards doesn’t “go off” then they have to rely on their defense to clamp down on opposing offenses to keep them in games. As of the All-Star break that defense has been right around the middle of the pack (13th DRtg) which isn’t the best of new for the Nets who are 26th in offense since the break.
From the Vault
It’s been several hours and 13 days, since Kevin Durant took his love away...
More reading: Canis Hoopus
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Minnesota Timberwolves Game Notes - Minnesota Timberwolves
- Nets look to rediscover winning touch against Timberwolves - STATS
- Minnesota faces Brooklyn on home slide - AP
- Nets rally from down 22, fall short in loss to Bucks - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Nerlens Noel gets start in makeshift Nets lineup - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Karl-Anthony Towns resumes basketball activities, but return time frame still unknown - Chris Hine - Minneapolis Star-Tribune