Gregg Popovich's side remain on the road for a doubleheader against the Minnesota Timberwolves after an impressive trip to LA. The Spurs triumphed over both the Lakers and the Clippers - the first side to do so in the Staples Center since the Golden State Warriors in 2019.
After winning their opening two fixtures, the Minnesota Timberwolves have had a torrid time, having lost six games on the bounce without talismanic center Karl-Anthony Towns.
Although they've been on a losing run, it is important to keep in mind that the Timberwolves have faced some of the league's best sides. This includes Thursday night's loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, who ran out with a comfortable 135-117 win.
Without Towns, the Minnesota Timberwolves have the worst defensive rating in the league. However, on a positive note, their number one overall pick, Anthony Edwards, has hit the ground running in the league. Edwards is currently averaging 15.4 points off the bench.
The San Antonio Spurs will be favorites for this one, though they are yet to find their consistency on both ends of the floor.
Fixture: Minnesota Timberwolves vs. San Antonio Spurs - NBA Season 2020-21
Date & Time: Saturday, January 9th, 2021, 8:00 PM ET. (Sunday, January 10th, 6:30 AM IST)
Venue: Target Center, Minneapolis, MN.
San Antonio Spurs Preview
After failing to reach the playoffs last season, the San Antonio Spurs entered the 2020-21 NBA season with lower expectations and considerations of a rebuild in place.
DeMar DeRozan has stayed put, averaging 19 points and a career-high 7.3 assists. This has aided the perception that he is a player with one foot out of the door and an eye on a potential trade to LA.
The San Antonio Spurs finished with a losing record last season. However, they have started this year 4-4 after playing the Lakers three times, the Clippers, and the Jazz.
DeRozan will be welcoming the offensive assistance he has received from veterans LaMarcus Aldridge and Patty Mills, as well as the encouraging career-high numbers young guard Dejounte Murray is putting up.
Spurs are currently ranked 19th in defensive rating, which is nowhere near where coach Popovich would ideally have them. However, they have shown encouraging signs elsewhere on the floor for the season ahead.
Key Player - DeMar DeRozan
Leading the San Antonio Spurs franchise after suggestions of his departure in the offseason, DeMar DeRozan has began the season where he left off. Improving his facilitating, the small forward is averaging more assists while taking lesser shots.
On both ends of the floor, responsibility has fallen firmly on DeRozan's shoulders since moving to the San Antonio Spurs. His overall game has vastly improved, and he is evolving into a multi-functional offensive piece from a solid scorer.
The forward is finally shooting far more threes than he ever has before and is proving his worth to teams around the league.
San Antonio Spurs Predicted Lineup
G Dejounte Murray, G Lonnie Walker, F DeMar DeRozan, F Keldon Johnson, C LaMarcus Aldridge
Minnesota Timberwolves Preview
It's no surprise that the Minnesota Timberwolves have struggled without Karl-Anthony Towns. The All-Star was averaging 19 points and 11.5 rebounds before his injury in their second game of the season.
Since his absence, the Minnesota Timberwolves have lost five of their six games by double-digit score-lines. Towns provides the rim protection that coach Ryan Saunders' side have lacked in their fall to the worst-defensive rating in the league.
T-Wolves fans will be happy to see D'Angelo Russell playing well. Top draft pick Anthony Edwards has also enjoyed an excellent start to his career too. Drafted out of Georgia, Edwards is leading his 2021 class.
The shooting guard was brought into Minnesota to provide additional scoring power off the bench. Thus far, Edwards is averaging 15 points while shooting an effective field-goal percentage of 47.7.
Key Player - D'Angelo Russell
Russell hasn't quite had the start to his first full year with the Minnesota Timberwolves that he would have wanted. The absence of close friend and fellow star Towns has played a part in this.
Russell has still been doing his best to rally the Minnesota Timberwolves' offense, averaging 20 points and 5 assists. While those around him are rotated regularly, Russell has had to maintain the scoring power and rebounding ability lost due to Towns' absence.
After injuries thwarted his season last year, Russell will be hoping to return to his All-Star quality. He will be eager for Towns to return and redefine the Minnesota Timberwolves' fortunes for this season.
Minnesota Timberwolves Predicted Lineup
G D'Angelo Russell, G Malik Beasley, F Jarrett Culver, F Juancho Hernangomez, C Naz Reid
Timberwolves vs. Spurs Match Prediction
Neither Naz Reid nor Ed Davis have been able to fill the void left by Karl-Anthony Towns at center, presenting a mismatch perfect for veteran big man Aldridge. Both sides will be relying on their All-Star's to provide offensive fluidity. However, where the Spurs may edge this one is through their roster depth.
Although the Minnesota Timberwolves have enjoyed Edwards' minutes off the bench, the Spurs should have too many weapons with which to hurt the T-Wolves. Moreover, Spurs are still riding high off their two victories in LA.
Where to watch the Timberwolves vs. Spurs Game?
In the USA, the matchup will be shown on the local FoxSports networks, both Southwest and North. For international fans, you can stream the game live with an NBA League Pass.Published 09 Jan 2021, 04:28 IST