The San Antonio Spurs look to defeat the host Minnesota Timberwolves for the 13th consecutive time when the teams square off on Wednesday. The Spurs continued their dominance of Minnesota with a season-opening 107-99 victory behind 25 points and 10 rebounds from power forward LaMarcus Aldridge.
The Timberwolves last defeated the Spurs on April 8, 2014 but are a much-improved team with All-Star Jimmy Butler joining young stars Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. Minnesota possesses an 8-5 record, which matches the franchise’s best start since the 2001-02, when the team led by Kevin Garnett opened with a 10-3 surge. Aldridge scored a season-best 32 points on Tuesday as San Antonio topped Dallas 97-91 for its fifth victory in six games. The triumph over the Mavericks was the 500th career regular-season road win for Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who ranks third all-time in that category behind Pat Riley (520) and Don Nelson (517).
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, FSN Southwest (San Antonio), FSN North (Minnesota)
ABOUT THE SPURS (9-5): Aldridge is thriving in the go-to scoring role with All-Star Kawhi Leonard sidelined and is averaging 22.5 points with 11 20-point performances. The five-time All-Star averaged 18 points or fewer in each of his first two seasons with San Antonio but is resembling the player he was in Portland, where he averaged 21 or more in each of his final five campaigns before departing as a free agent. “Everything is good. I am definitely more confident,” Aldridge said after the win over Dallas. “I’m playing my game more this year. Pop has definitely tweaked some things so I can be myself out there more, be more confident, and it’s working out for us.”
ABOUT THE TIMBERWOLVES (8-5): Another key component in Minnesota’s improvement are veteran additions Taj Gibson and Jamal Crawford. The 37-year-old Crawford (9.2 scoring average) supplies scoring punch off the bench while the 32-year-old Gibson (10.2 points, 7.6 rebounds) does the dirty work inside while providing top-notch defense. “He just has a workmanlike attitude every single day,” Crawford told reporters. “When he’s saying something, it comes from a safe place. It’s not with an agenda, it’s for the betterment of the team. I’ll go to war with him any day of the week.”
1. The Spurs have won their last six road meetings with the Timberwolves.
2. Towns recorded 24 points and 13 rebounds in Monday’s 109-98 win over Utah for his 10th double-double of the season.
3. There remains no firm timetable for the return of Leonard (quadriceps), who finished third in last season’s MVP voting and second the previous campaign.
PREDICTION: Timberwolves 104, Spurs 103