While it’s a bit much to claim that any NBA game in November is a must-win contest, however if the San Antonio Spurs (6-12) hope to get back on track any time soon, they really need to defeat the Minnesota Timberwolves (9-8) on Wednesday night in the AT&T Center. To see the reason why, simply glimpse at San Antonio’s upcoming schedule.
After the game against the Wolves, the Spurs host Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday, which will obviously be a difficult one to win. Then the Spurs travel to Detroit to play a Pistons team that is 5-3 at home — another difficult game for a San Antonio squad that has only defeated a pair of bad teams (the Golden State Warriors and New York Knicks) away from the Alamo City. After the one-game road trip, the Spurs come home to play the Houston Rockets, another top team in the Western Conference.
The Spurs, as it stands, have already lost nine of their last ten games. If they lose to the T-Wolves, there’s a real chance that their current tumble could extend to a streak where they pile up 13 losses over a stretch of 14 games. At that point, San Antonio’s record would be 6-16 and the hopes of a playoff push would look even more remote.
If the Spurs can beat the Wolves, who are only 2-4 since beating the Spurs in Minnesota two weeks ago, they can hope to reclaim some momentum.
San Antonio Spurs Starting Lineup
The Spurs have gone back to the same starting lineup they finished with last season: Derrick White, Bryn Forbes, DeMar DeRozan, LaMarcus Aldridge and Jakob Poeltl. That fivesome started for the Spurs for the first time last game, a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. During the time the starters were on the court, the Spurs were outscored 28-26.
Even though that starting lineup was outscored by the Lakers, they showed quite a bit of chemistry and had positive moments on both ends of the court. Expect head coach Gregg Popovich to stick with it for a while to give it a chance of sticking.
The biggest change with those five players starting is Dejounte Murray moving to the bench. He has been uneven — at best — in the two games he’s come off the bench this season.
Minnesota Timberwolves Starting Lineup
The Minnesota Timberwolves, too, are dealing with a shifting starting lineup. Expect them to go with Andrew Wiggins, Jarrett Culver, Treveon Graham, Robert Covington and Karl-Anthony Towns tonight. The T-Wolves recently announced that point guard Jeff Teague would be moved to a role off the bench, with Wiggins and Culver sharing the ball-handling duties in the starting lineup.
Spurs vs. Timberwolves – Key Matchup
Last time these two teams met, Aldridge and Towns basically cancelled each other out. Who really killed the Spurs was Wiggins, who finished with 30 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
Tonight, the Spurs will need to do a much better job against Wiggins. Expect White to begin the game matched up against Wiggins. If the 6-foot-7 Wiggins proves to be too big, don’t be surprised if Pop tries to use DeMarre Carroll against him. The Spurs don’t have to shut him down completely but they can’t afford to let Wiggins dominate the action like he did in the previous matchup.