LA Clippers (8-1) @ Minnesota Timberwolves (2-5)
5:00 p.m. PST
November 12, 2016
The LA Clippers are on a two-game road back-to-back for the second straight weekend, and they have yet to trip up. After outlasting the Thunder in Oklahoma City Friday night, they go to Minnesota to take on the Timberwolves.
There is a chance the Timberwolves are where the Clippers are now by the end of the decade. Peep the connections!
- The Timberwolves hired Tom Thibodeau as Head Coach and President of Basketball Operations this past offseason. The Clippers hired a former Chicago Bulls head coach as well in Vinny Del Negro in 2010, then replaced Del Negro with Doc Rivers in 2013, giving Rivers the title of President of Basketball Operations in 2014.
- Thibodeau was Rivers’ associate head coach (RE: defensive coordinator) in Boston from 2007-2010, a run that included 2 Eastern Conference championships and an NBA championship in 2008.
- The Timberwolves have the last two NBA Rookie of the Year winners in C Karl-Anthony Towns (1st overall pick in 2015 NBA Draft) and SF Andrew Wiggins (1st overall pick in 2014 NBA Draft). The Clippers drafted PF Blake Griffin 1st overall in 2009, and Griffin was the 2010-2011 NBA Rookie of the Year.
- Clippers PG Chris Paul and Timberwolves PG Ricky Rubio are the only two players since 2011-2012 ranked in the top five of the NBA in both assists and steals per game (min. 1,000 minutes). Paul was traded to the Clippers in 2011 and has averaged 9.9 assists (2nd in NBA since 2011) and 2.3 steals (1st in NBA since 2011) in LA. Rubio debuted for the Timberwolves in 2011 after being the 5th overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, and he has averaged 8.3 assists (5th in NBA) and 2.2 steals (2nd in NBA) in Minnesota.
- The reunion factor goes beyond Rivers and Thibodeau:
- Clippers C DeAndre Jordan won a gold medal in Rio this past summer with Thibodeau serving as a Team USA assistant.
- Clippers assistant coach Sam Cassell made his only All-Star appearance in 2003-2004 with the Timberwolves, and then the Clippers traded for him in 2005 (with the 2012 1st round pick that became Austin Rivers!) in exchange for Marko Jaric and Lionel Chalmers; a trade that the Timberwolves still haven’t recovered from.
- Timberwolves backup C Cole Aldrich was with the Clippers last season.
- Clippers SF Luc Mbah a Moute was teammates with Rubio and Timberwolves PF Gorgui Dieng to finish the 2013-2014 season.
- The Timberwolves drafted Clippers SF Wesley Johnson 4th overall in 2010.
And you have Seattle SGs!
Of course, you can’t ignore the Kevin Garnett factor, though that kind of works in reverse here. Garnett retired after spending most of the last two seasons with the Timberwolves, and he worked with the Clippers during training camp.
Let’s bring it back together though. The Timberwolves have struggled mightily against the Clippers, as LA has won 15 of the last 16 matchups. The last time the Timberwolves beat the Clippers at Target Center was March 2012, when Paul missed the 3rd of 3 FTs with 2.7 seconds left in a Timberwolves 95-94 victory. Rubio is the only Minnesota player still with the team that played in that game. Since then, the Clippers have won 8 in a row:
The last of those 8 Clippers wins in Minnesota was in March, a game where the Clippers were up by as many as 33 points and won 99-79. The Timberwolves shot only 34.5 percent from the field in that game, and now they getting a Clippers defense that is allowing opponents to shoot a league-low 40.0 percent from the field.
The Timberwolves had two days off and are expected to get Rubio back tonight after he missed the previous five games with an elbow injury. The Timberwolves won their first two games of the season without Rubio, including a 123-107 road victory at Orlando Wednesday that saw LaVine score a career-high 37 points while making 7-of-9 threes and 14-of-22 FGs overall.
Minnesota was starting rookie PG Kris Dunn, the 5th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, but Dunn was outplayed by PG Tyus Jones in Orlando. Minnesota’s biggest problem has been a defense that is allowing opponents to make an un-Thibodeau-like 46.9 percent from the field, 29th in the NBA. The Clippers have found a groove offensively, making 48.5 percent from the field in 4 games since last Saturday, ranking 4th in the NBA over that span.
If the Timberwolves are to end the Clippers’ five-game win streak, they will have to find a way to get stops inside. Clippers SG J.J. Redick will be a key factor as well. He’s shooting 57.1 percent from the field and 62.5 percent from three over his last four games while averaging 15.0 points per game.
Clippers SEGABABA in Minnesota tonight: How do Timberwolves compare to early 2010s Clips?
— ClipperBlog (@clipperblog) November 12, 2016