Minnesota Timberwolves: 3 things to watch for vs. Indiana Pacers

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 10: Jarrett Culver #23 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 10: Jarrett Culver #23 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves continue their preseason schedule with a road date against the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are 1-2 thus far in preseason play, and they’ll look to even up their record as they take on the Pacers in Indianapolis on Tuesday.

The Wolves are coming off an impressive 30-point win over Maccabi Haifa on Sunday. In that game, the starters essentially just played the first quarter and sat out the rest of the tilt. It’ll be interesting to see how head coach Ryan Saunders handles this one, with the preseason finale coming in Milwaukee only 48 hours later.

The guess here is that the starters play roughly a quarter once again, and that Saunders waits until Thursday to have them play something closer to a full workload, with six days to recover before the regular season opener next Wednesday, Oct. 23 in Brooklyn.

Let’s take a look at three things to watch out for against the Pacers.

1. The starting lineup

Seems weird, right? Of course we’ll look out for the starting lineup.

But given the way the Wolves have utilized their lineup through the first three preseason games, it will indeed be something that deserves attention.

In the opener against the Suns, Jake Layman started. Treveon Graham has gotten the nod over the past two games. It’s unclear what kind of starting lineup the Pacers will trot out — it is preseason, after all, and they’re dealing with a few injuries — but it is starting to seem more and more likely that the Wolves will rotate a few guys through that fifth starting role depending on matchups, the hot hand, and perhaps a few other factors.

2. Who is initiating the offense?

By and large, Jeff Teague and Shabazz Napier will be bringing the ball up the court for the Wolves throughout the season.

But that doesn’t mean that they’ll be the only two guys initiating offense.

There’s Karl-Anthony Towns, who will apparently be getting many more touches outside the paint and will find himself in position to make decisions in more advantageous positions than being triple-teamed in the post every time down the floor.

There’s also rookie Jarrett Culver, who has had plenty of opportunity to handle the ball in the offense throughout the first three preseason games. Against the Suns, he had five turnovers. Over the last two games however, only one turnover combined for Culver.

Over the course of the season, expect Napier to function more as a spot-up shooter on the wing while Culver handles the ball for the second unit and Josh Okogie, Jake Layman, and Treveon Graham dive to the rim as cutters.

3. The battle for the final roster spot

There still isn’t a clear-cut solution for the final roster spot, and the Wolves only have a week to make a decision.

It will likely come down to combo guard Tyrone Wallace, rookie guard Jaylen Nowell, rookie big man Naz Reid, and second-year forward Keita Bates-Diop.

It would be a genuine surprise to see the Wolves give up on a rookie with guaranteed money only a few weeks in, so Nowell and Reid are likely safe. Wallace and Bates-Diop each have the next-smallest amount of money guaranteed, and while Bates-Diop has the larger contract and higher salary, he may be the odd man out. Also, Wallace plays a position that is of greater need for the Wolves as they are currently constructed.

Bet on the Wolves to seek a trade for Bates-Diop, probably for a future draft pick. If that doesn’t happen, expect Wallace to be the casualty of the roster crunch. But either way, one of those two guys will likely be gone by the time the team suits up against the Nets on Oct. 23.

Next. Previewing the Wolves' future rivals. dark

We’ll be back after the game with a few thoughts. Stay tuned.