Minnesota Timberwolves: 3 things to watch for vs. 76ers

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 13: Jimmy Butler #23 of the Philadelphia 76ers. Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 13: Jimmy Butler #23 of the Philadelphia 76ers. Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves head to Philadelphia to take on Jimmy Butler and the 76ers. What can we expect out of the Wolves’ visit to the City of Brotherly Love?

The Minnesota Timberwolves will have their first crack at the saboteur of the first part of their season on Tuesday evening in Philadelphia.

Jimmy Butler and the 28-16 76ers will play host the Wolves, who will be looking to pull their record to an even .500 on the season and enter play with a 21-22 mark.

Minnesota is still without Robert Covington, who will miss out on his only chance to play in Philadelphia this year as he continues to recover from an ankle injury. Derrick Rose and Jeff Teague are both questionable with ankle injuries of their own.

The Wolves have won three out of their last four games, including Saturday night’s win over the Pelicans on the second night of a back-to-back. Their only loss was by four points to Dallas in a game that they led with 30 seconds to go.

The Sixers escaped Madison Square Garden with a win over the Knicks on Sunday after two-straight losses to bad teams in Atlanta and Washington.

Here are three things to watch out for in Tuesday’s Wolves-Sixers matchup:

1. A good road test

Obviously, playing on the road against the No. 5 team in the Eastern Conference is a good test. But it isn’t just that; the Wolves struggled with the 76ers last year, too.

Early in the 2017-18 campaign, the Wolves lost in overtime to the Sixers at Target Center. The next matchup wasn’t until March 24 in Philadelphia, and Jimmy Butler was out with a knee injury.

The Sixers dominated, taking a 27-point lead into the fourth quarter before the Wolves’ bench unit made things somewhat interesting at the end, pulling to within a final score of 120-108. Joel Embiid had 19 points and six rebounds in just 24 minutes, while Karl-Anthony Towns took 15 shots to get 15 points in 24 minutes of his own.

2. Timberwolves’ guard rotation

The Timberwolves’ backcourt has been in flux lately, with Rose playing seemingly every other game due to his injured ankle and Teague re-injuring his ankle during Saturday’s game. If neither can go, it will mean that Jerryd Bayless will see backup point guard minutes and Josh Okogie‘s minutes load will remain in north of 35.

Interim head coach Ryan Saunders hasn’t worked his players any less hard than his predecessor, with Andrew Wiggins and Okogie both playing north of 40 minutes last time out. It will be interesting to see how much the presence of Rose could change that in this one.

3. Revenge game?

With no Robert Covington available for the Wolves, it will be up to Dario Saric to exact as much revenge as possible on his former ‘mates. (Or, perhaps Bayless will get his shot!)

After struggling mightily on Friday against Dallas and in the first half on Saturday against New Orleans, Saric came back with a great second half, scoring 14 points in short order. Look for him to have another good game on Tuesday.

Next. First-half player grades for the Timberwolves. dark

We’ll be back after the game with a quick recap and some key takeaways.