Friday, January 27, 2023

NBA Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves at Golden State Warriors

Stephen Curry gets an opportunity to follow up a 50-point performance for the 10th time in his career when the Golden State Warriors host the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night in San Francisco.

Curry became the oldest player in NBA history at age 33 years, 239 days to record a double-double on a 50-point night when the Warriors ran their winning streak to five games in a 127-113 home triumph over the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night.

The two-time NBA Most Valuable Player also found time for 10 assists in the win.

“Just a stunning performance,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr gushed afterward. “He was amazing. I want to say I’ve never seen anything like it, but I’ve been watching it for seven years, so I have seen something like it. Still, it’s incredible to watch.”

Part of Curry’s next challenge will be dealing with Timberwolves point guard D’Angelo Russell, who put on a nice show himself Monday, going for a season-best 30 points and seven assists in a 125-118 overtime road loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.

Russell played 33 games for the Warriors during the 2019-20 season after he was acquired in a sign-and-trade as part of the package received from the Brooklyn Nets when Kevin Durant left Golden State.

Russell and Curry started together the first four games that season. The Warriors opened 1-3, with Russell averaging 16.3 points and 6.0 assists, while Curry put up an average of 20.3 points and 6.5 assists.

But Curry suffered a broken left hand in the fourth game, and by the time he was healthy enough to return in March, Russell had been dealt to the Timberwolves in a swap that sent Andrew Wiggins and a first-round pick that turned into Jonathan Kuminga to Golden State.

Russell will return to San Francisco for the first time on Wednesday. The only other time he’s faced the Warriors since the trade occurred was in a 126-114 home win last April, a game in which he contributed seven points and eight assists off the bench.

Timberwolves coach Chris Finch was happy to get Russell back in the lineup Monday after he’d missed two straight one-sided home losses to the Los Angeles Clippers with a sprained right ankle.

“We need more playmaking, more shot-making,” Finch observed. “Got hurt in that Orlando game (last Monday), and before that, he had his best game of the season. He was starting to find his rhythm. I thought he was playing with a lot more zip.”

Russell and Curry have gone head-to-head seven times in their careers, with Curry holding the edge in wins (4-3), points (26.7-16.0) and assists (5.9-5.1).

The Timberwolves have lost five in a row. The Golden State game will tip off a run of three California visits in four nights, with a Los Angeles back-to-back against the Lakers and Clippers scheduled for Friday and Saturday.

Karl-Anthony Towns, who has recorded nine consecutive double-doubles against the Warriors, is coming off a 25-point, 13-rebound outing in the loss at Memphis.


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