These are some dark days in Washington. The Wizards have lost four in a row and the pressure on the players and coaching staff is getting worse every day. There are more and more signs that Randy Wittman is on the hot seat, and a matchup with 7-4 Minnesota Timberwolves is not going to make his life any easier.
Where and when? Tip off is at 7 p.m. at the Verizon Center.
Why should I care? The Timberwolves might be the most entertaining team in the NBA. That they're playing a flashy, up-tempo style while winning a lot of games only adds to the entertainment level. Kevin Love is playing like an MVP, Ricky Rubio is like a cross between Rajon Rondo and White Chocolate, Corey Brewer is on one end of a highlight play almost every night and Kevin Martin is playing as well as ever.
Who's out? Chase Budinger and Ronny Turiaf are definitely out, while Shabazz Muhammad is day to day for Minnesota. Washington is definitely going to be without Otto Porter, Trevor Ariza and Chris Singleton, while Al Harrington is still listed as day to day.
Are they good? Very, and almost out of nowhere. Minnesota currently has the NBA's sixth-best offense and its sixth-best defense on a per possession basis while playing at the league's second fastest pace, per Basketball Reference. After years of injuries and poor draft picks, the Love-Rubio-Pekovic nucleus has finally come together under Rick Adelman to become one of the NBA's best teams.
What are they good at? Scoring on the break. What happens when you combine one of the best outlet passers, a point guard who loves getting out in transition, a wing who loves to run the floor and leak out on the break and a defense that causes a ton of turnovers? Stuff like this.
What are they bad at? Minnesota is still lacking a true center who can shut down the paint at a high level. Minnesota's a middle-of-the-pack team at rim protection, per NBA.com's stats page. In a related story, they've blocked fewer shots than all but two other teams, Pekovic blocks less than one shot per game and no one on the team is averaging more than one rejection per game. This clearly hasn't prevented the team from fielding an elite defense, but it could become a big issue against teams that have multiple players who can get all the way to the rim on their own.
Who wins tonight? Washington's backs are against the wall and Minnesota is playing on the road, but the Timberwolves are still the favorites here. If the Wizards are going to pull this one out, they're going to need Bradley Beal to take advantage of the Wolves' perimeter defenders leaving their man to leak out in transition or gamble for steals.
More from Bullets Forever:
- John Wall's back is still bothering him
- Wizards vs. Cavaliers: Two paths diverged on a court
- Losing to the Cavs and reflecting on the Wizards at 2-7
- Magical Pixels: The Wizards bought front-row seats to the Kyrie show
- Wizards vs. Cavaliers final score: Irving's 41 leads Cleveland over Washington in overtime, 103-96