Thursday, March 30, 2023
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NBA Preview: Charlotte Hornets (17-43) at Minnesota Timberwolves (31-30)

The Minnesota Timberwolves and Charlotte Hornets will meet in Minneapolis on Friday to resume regular-season competition after the All-Star break.

Before beginning their crucial four-game road trip on Sunday, the host Timberwolves will have a chance to play at home in Friday’s matchup. During the trip, Minnesota will play each NBA team from California, three of which are currently in position to qualify for the postseason.

The Timberwolves are well-positioned to advance to the play-in round after the break. They are eighth in the Western Conference, one half game behind sixth, but only one and a half games ahead of Utah, the Western Conference’s last team out of the play-in picture.

After moving D’Angelo Russell to the Los Angeles Lakers ahead of the deadline in a deal that brought veteran Mike Conley from the Jazz to the Timberwolves, Minnesota is prepared for this stretch while still adjusting to lineup changes.

Conley had nine points and 12 points in his first two games with Minnesota. In the second game, which was a win over Dallas, he also had nine assists. Conley, on the other hand, shot just 0-for-6 from the field in the Timberwolves’ final game before the break, and he didn’t score for over 33 minutes against Washington.

More roster changes are expected for Minnesota in the final six weeks of the regular season, including the possibility of Karl-Anthony Towns returning to the lineup. The Athletic reported on February 17 that Towns could return for the final 10 to 15 games of the season, despite being out since Nov. 30 with a calf injury.

In the interim, Minnesota’s main attraction is still All-Star Anthony Edwards. Edwards has participated in all 61 games this season and scores a team-best 24.9 points per game.

Edwards, a star in his third season, had scored 31 or more in three of his last four games, including 34 against Washington the day before.

Edwards scored 25 points in the Hornets’ previous meeting with Charlotte on Nov. 25, when the Hornets were without LaMelo Ball, a sensational player from the same 2020 draft class.

Ball won the Rookie of the Year award in 2020-21 over Edwards. He is currently leading Charlotte in points and assists per game with 23.3 and 8.4 respectively. He scored 30 points, had 15 assists, and grabbed six rebounds in a victory over the Atlanta Hawks and 28 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists in victories over the San Antonio Spurs for the Hornets before the break.

Coming out of the break, the Hornets have the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference and are 11 1/2 games out of the final play-in spot. However, Charlotte’s three-game winning streak will be extended with a victory in Minnesota, a milestone the Hornets have yet to reach this season.

For Charlotte, this is their fourth two-game winning streak of the season.

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