The Minnesota Timberwolves will try to snap a four-game losing streak when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night in Minneapolis.
Minnesota is coming off a 136-104 loss against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night. The Timberwolves also have lost to the Washington Wizards, Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks during their skid.
Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said the slump did not have one simple cause.
“We’ve got to have more guys play better,” Finch said. “There’s no margin for error for our team, no matter what you’re talking about — rotation, effort or defense or shooting. We just don’t have much margin for error. That’s why we’ve got to play basically full throttle and get back to guarding people. When we do that, we have a chance.”
As the Timberwolves look to regroup, the Cavaliers hope to start building a winning streak. Cleveland is looking for back-to-back victories after running away with a 115-92 win over the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night.
Granted, the Bulls were depleted by injuries and absences, but Cleveland put forth a stellar performance by shooting 55 percent (44 of 80) from the field and 46.4 percent (13 of 28) from beyond the arc.
Darius Garland led the way with 24 points on 9-for-16 shooting, and Jarrett Allen registered a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Garland’s progress has stood out to coach J.B. Bickerstaff. The dynamic 21-year-old guard from Vanderbilt is averaging a career-high 19.5 points per game on 47 percent shooting this season, and he is gaining some buzz as a possible All-Star selection.
“You keep looking at his total body of work and he’s been playing well,” Bickerstaff said. “He’s grown into a leadership role, makes his teammates better. So I think that’s the thing, it’s like don’t pay attention to those small pockets (of adversity) and continue to look at his total body of work. And he’s been impressive.”
Garland credited his teammates for his added success this season. Allen, Evan Mobley and Lauri Markkanen each scored in double figures in Cleveland’s most recent performance.
“When they are making shots, my life is totally easy,” Garland said. “I’d rather pass the ball than score, to be honest with you. So whenever they’re open, I’m giving it to them so they can make the play and shoot the ball.”
Karl-Anthony Towns figures to challenge Cleveland’s defense. The Timberwolves’ big man is averaging a team-high 24.2 points and 9.3 rebounds this season.
Anthony Edwards is next on the scoring list with 21.8 points per game. D’Angelo Russell, who sat out Wednesday because of an ankle injury, is third with 19.0 points per game.
After Garland, the Cavaliers’ second-best scorer is Allen at 17.1 points per game to go along with a team-high 11.3 rebounds. Collin Sexton averaged 16.0 points per game before undergoing season-ending knee surgery.
Minnesota is 7-8 at home this season. Cleveland is 8-5 on the road.
This is the first of two meetings between the Timberwolves and Cavaliers during the season. They are scheduled to meet in Cleveland on Feb. 28.