With the west’s No. 7 seed on the line, the LA Clippers visit the Minnesota Timberwolves in Game 2 of the NBA Play-In Tournament Tuesday night. Read on for our full Clippers vs. Timberwolves play in preview.
Clippers vs. Timberwolves Game Information
Where: Target Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota
When: 6:30 p.m. PT
Tune In: TNT, KEIB 1150 AM, KWKW 1330 AM
Projected Starting Lineups:
LA Clippers: Reggie Jackson – Paul George – Nicolas Batum – Marcus Morris Sr. – Ivica Zubac
Minnesota Timberwolves: Patrick Beverley – D’Angelo Russell – Anthony Edwards – Jared Vanderbilt – Karl-Anthony Towns
LA Clippers: Luke Kennard – OUT (Sore Right Hamstring), Kawhi Leonard – OUT (Right Knee; ACL – Injury Recovery), Jason Preston – OUT (Right Foot – Injury Recovery), Jay Scrubb – OUT (Right Foot – Injury Recovery)
Minnesota Timberwolves: Taurean Prince – QUESTIONABLE (Right Knee Inflammation)
Update: Luke Kennard (Hamstring) didn’t make the trip to Minnesota, per Andrew Grief.
Update No. 2: Taurean Prince (Right Knee) has been listed as Questionable by the Timberwolves.
Update No. 3: Taurean Prince (Right Knee Inflammation) has been ruled out by the Timberwolves, per Tomer Azarly.
The Big Picture
Less than two days removed from the Clippers clinching their 11th consecutive winning season, a rollercoaster of a year in which every victory was major given the injury woes, it’s officially “win to get in” time. Avoiding the injury bug for the most part since February, the Clippers not only got two of their elite creators back just in time, but have also logged in some very impressive reps while integrating them in. Thus far, both Paul George and Norman Powell have lived up to every bit of the hype and expectations that had long loomed over their recovery roads. Their returns have been godsends for a deep group that, to their own credit, have also tallied both the biggest comeback and largest win margin in franchise history this season to keep the ship afloat. While the matchup on hand tonight seemed inevitable to happen for about a month now, this is perhaps as fun of a one as you could ever ask for in the play-in.
Say what you want about New Orleans and San Antonio potentially having the opportunity to steal away the Clippers’ spot in the first round — there’s no team in the play-in this year that has more to lose than Minnesota. The 36-game improvement that the Timberwolves have achieved over their last season goes far beyond them simply playing hard and learning from past mistakes. After being a bottom-10 defense every year of Karl-Anthony Towns’ career, the Wolves finished the regular season ranking 13th on that side of the ball (H/T Dane Moore). On the other end, Minnesota has been absolutely rolling since January, closing out the year as the highest-scoring offense in the league. A lot of that has to do with the newly extended COY candidate Chris Finch and his staff, who makes up the other half of what should be an awesome chess match with Tyronn Lue.
For the Wolves, it’s about taking the next step and legitimizing themselves as the talented, offensive juggernaut that they’ve been over the last three months. Meanwhile, the Clippers have had maybe one meaningful game to pull film from in recent memory — a win over the Pelicans on April 3. Even then, Norm hadn’t even returned yet. Despite that, the proven track record of LAC’s experienced, veteran core is tough to bet against. All the while, the season series in which LAC took it 3-1 all came and went by the time we were just three days into 2022, making things even tougher to predict in advance.
Clippers vs. Timberwolves Game Notes
- The Captain of the Ship: As Anthony Edwards said on Monday, the Timberwolves, too, are aware that the fate of tonight’s game starts with Paul George. PG coasted LA to three-straight double-digit wins over the Wolves in November with averages of 25.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 6.0 assists on 45.5/35/95 shooting. Since his March 29 return, PG is averaging 22.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 6.8 assists on 42.5/52.5/77.4 shooting. Where Clipper Nation will hope Edwards and co. are wrong, however, is that LAC’s chances also don’t end with PG. Aside from the sheer drive, kick, swing DNA of the Clipper offense, there should be plenty of shotmaking and creation if Minnesota decides to put Alcatraz-esque attention on George. Additionally, as Dane Moore mentioned in the latest episode of The Lob, The Jam, The Podcast, although the Wolves’ hyper-aggressive defense is one that has top-three marks in steals and blocks per game, the style does leave the door open for ball-dominant playmakers to pick them apart.
- Talk of the Towns: There is certainly a world in which Karl-Anthony Towns — a much-deserved, shoo-in center for the All-NBA Second Team — absolutely goes off for 40 points en route to a home win. Moore explained on TLTJTP that since taking home the 3-Point Contest hardware, Towns “stopped playing like Channing Frye and starting playing like Giannis Antetokounmpo.” With the way the Clippers have liked to put Nicolas Batum and more agile defenders on star bigs and have Ivica Zubac ready to double, an aggressive Towns could certainly raise immediate red flags. On the other end, you simply have to make KAT work defensively.
- Seeing the Synergy: As we all know, you can’t really tell how ready PG and Norm are going to feel for the postseason until it’s actually here. Aside from seeing how those two fare after being short on time in a must-win situation, it’s about tracking how the team figures it out once again on the fly. From Reggie Jackson’s decision-making in the clutch to Batum, Marcus Morris Sr. and Robert Covington divvying up the forward/center minutes, Terance Mann bringing it up for the bench and even guys like Luke Kennard and Amir Coffey who may or may not see the floor for various reasons, tonight could be the start of putting together something special.
Feel free to stick around and chat down below as this article’s comment section will serve as our live game thread tonight against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Sign up for a free account and join the conversation!
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