Minnesota Timberwolves at Trail Blazers: Odds, injuries, and what to watch for

The Minnesota Timberwolves have an opportunity to break a five-game losing streak as they head to Portland to take on the Trail Blazers.

The Minnesota Timberwolves have lost five consecutive games since a 2-0 start, and following two consecutive losses to the divisional rival Denver Nuggets, are in Portland to take on another member of the Northwest Division.

The Wolves have played much better this week, taking a lead into the fourth quarter against the Denver Nuggets on two occasions. The offense is rounding into form, with D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, and Juancho Hernangomez all playing much better of late.

The biggest issue of late has been the defense, which had played slightly better in the earliest stages of the season. In the past two games, the Wolves’ defense has fallen apart in spectacular fashion down the stretch, both in transition and in the halfcourt.

The Wolves have a shot to right the ship, facing a 3-4 Blazers squad that just lost a close game to the Chicago Bulls and is off to a shaky start to the season.

Minnesota Timberwolves odds at the Portland Trail Blazers

The Trail Blazers are favored to win by 10 points by The Action Network. The line seems a bit high, given the Blazers’ recent struggles and the Wolves’ improved play of late. Still, a team that’s lost five straight games and sits at 2-5 on the season doesn’t necessarily deserve too much respect by the oddsmakers.

TV and streaming info for Minnesota Timberwolves at Portland Trail Blazers

What to watch for in Minnesota Timberwolves at Portland Trail Blazers

The Wolves will have their hands full with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum in the pick-and-roll. Minnesota has struggled mightily to control dynamic guards over the past couple of years, and the duo that the Blazers will trot out on Thursday night is as challenging a backcourt as the Wolves have faced this year.

Both Lillard and McCollum can score in the pick-and-roll or in isolation, from beyond the arc or in the paint. Minnesota’s point guards have struggled mightily on defense lately, and without Towns available, the aging Ed Davis and the defensively-challenged Naz Reid will be tasked with helping to slow down the Blazers’ pick-and-roll action.

Minnesota shouldn’t have any problems scoring; the Blazers are currently No. 25 in the league in defensive rating and the Wolves’ offense is finally starting to heat up.

Portland is far more comfortable playing at a faster pace than the Nuggets, so an attempt to speed the game up may not be quite as beneficial for the Wolves this time around. But if they can keep from being pick-and-rolled to death by Lillard, McCollum, and Jusuf Nurkic, the offense should be able to score at will.

Injury Report for Minnesota Timberwolves at Portland Trail Blazers

The Wolves will be without both Towns and Josh Okogie once again. Jaylen Nowell is healthy and should be active for the game.

Zach Collins remains out for the Trail Blazers, and Rodney Hood is questionable with a quadriceps injury.

Check back for postgame player grades. Enjoy the game!