Minnesota Timberwolves: What to watch for vs. New York Knicks

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MARCH 9: Taj Gibson #67 and Keita Bates-Diop #31 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MARCH 9: Taj Gibson #67 and Keita Bates-Diop #31 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves will likely be without Karl-Anthony Towns as they host the New York Knicks on Sunday evening at Target Center.

It was just over two weeks ago when the Minnesota Timberwolves visited Madison Square Garden sans Karl-Anthony Towns to take on the New York Knicks.

Towns sat out the game as he entered the concussion protocol following a post-All-Star break car accident. The Wolves won with relative ease as Taj Gibson and Anthony Tolliver stepped up in Towns’ absence and Derrick Rose led the team in scoring with 20 points off the bench.

While Towns is officially listed as questionable heading into Sunday night’s game and there is “optimism” surrounding the pending MRI results, it would seem unlikely that the Wolves’ franchise player would be out there on the second night of a back-to-back in a next-to-meaningless game.

Sure, the Wolves still have a shot at the playoffs, at least mathematically, although they trail the No. 8 spot by six games with only 16 to play and the Sacramento Kings standing between the Wolves and the Spurs.

At any rate, there’s a game top lay on Sunday night. The Wolves beat the Knicks without Towns once, why couldn’t they do it again?

1. Playing with energy

Yes, this is the second night of a back-to-back set, but both games have been at home. The Knicks, on the other hand, are an 11-win team that lost by eight at home to Sacramento on Saturday night and flew into snowy Minneapolis in the early morning hours.

If the Wolves approach the game with energy and purpose, they should have no issue running the Knickerbockers out of the gym. With or without Karl-Anthony Towns.

2. Relying on Keita

Rookie Keita Bates-Diop made his first career start on Saturday and performed admirably. He filled in for Andrew Wiggins, who sat out the game with a quad contusion and is questionable on Sunday.

It is unlikely that both Wiggins and Towns play, so regardless of if one or both sits out, Bates-Diop will be asked to take on extra minutes whether it’s at the 3 or the 4 or both.

The former second-round pick had career-highs across the board on Saturday (12 points and five rebounds in 37 minutes) and will be needed again on Sunday against New York.

3. Point guard play

Jeff Teague was horrible against the Wizards, shooting 2-for-14 from the floor and appearing terrified by the prospect of shooting open jumpers. Tyus Jones wasn’t much better off the bench.

Thankfully, Derrick Rose came to play and helped seal the win late, stabilizing the team after Towns left the game due to injury.

The Wolves need Teague or Jones to show up on Sunday and play better then they did against Washington if the Wolves are going to notch a win — especially if Towns is out.

Next. Still silver linings to Wolves' season.... dark

We’ll be back after the game with player grades and a quick recap. Enjoy!