Minnesota owns the NBA’s best record at 15-4 and is looking to improve to 10-1 on its home court. The Timberwolves have had three days off after failing to advance in the league’s in-season tournament.
Timberwolves coach Chris Finch learned this week that he was named Western Conference Coach of the Month for October and November. But his players said Finch refuses to feel satisfied, and he also pushes his team to avoid complacency.
“He hasn’t, not one day, changed,” Timberwolves guard Mike Conley said. “He hasn’t thought about how good we’ve done. Everything I’ve seen on the film has been negative, from Day 1.
“In the most perfect of games, he finds 20 clips of us doing something wrong and ripping us for those clips. He’s keeping us humble, keeping us locked in and focused on each day.”
Minnesota’s next test will come against San Antonio, which is mired in a 14-game losing streak. The Spurs’ last victory came Nov. 2 against the Phoenix Suns.
Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama is expected to return against the Timberwolves. The No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft missed San Antonio’s last game against the New Orleans Pelicans because of right hip tightness.
Wembanyama, 19, is averaging 19.3 points and 9.7 rebounds in his first 18 games. He is shooting 43.7 percent from the field but just 27.1 percent from beyond the arc.
“I don’t see any reason for me to miss any other game,” Wembanyama said. “Of course, I want to play every single game. The goal is to be available for my team whenever.”
Minnesota also hopes to welcome back its top player, although that is less certain. Anthony Edwards is listed as questionable with a right hip pointer.
The 22-year-old Edwards leads the Timberwolves with 26.2 points per game to go along with averages of 5.9 rebounds and 5.0 assists. He has missed the past two games after he injured his hip when he went up for a dunk and fell to the court on Nov. 28 against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Timberwolves also remain without top defender Jaden McDaniels because of a sprained ankle. McDaniels is expected to be out until next week at the earliest.
Rudy Gobert will try to stay hot for Minnesota. He scored 26 points on 10-for-12 shooting and pulled down 12 rebounds in the Timberwolves’ most recent win against the Charlotte Hornets.
“I think there’s just a level of trust that’s developed,” Finch said. “It’s just understanding the value of Rudy. He’s setting so many great screens out there, he creates so much great offense for his teammates.
“This is the way that we can repay him, is give him the ball when he’s open. He did a great job of making really good decisions when he caught it.”
This will be the second matchup of the season between the Spurs and Timberwolves. In the first contest, Minnesota held on for a 117-110 win on Nov. 10 in San Antonio.
–Field Level Media
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