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Pistons vs. Timberwolves preview: Minnesota rights ship after slow start

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The Timberwolves have disappointed, but one December game may have saved their season.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Minnesota Timberwolves Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Are. You. Ready?

For the battle.....

.....of the fake-trade point guards!

Last month gave us the rumor that a possible Reggie Jackson for Ricky Rubio trade could be on the table. Needless to say, two weeks have gone by and it seems like the PG swap died somewhere in the Twittersphere.

Rubio would certainly be an upgrade on the defensive end, owns the superior court vision, has the tighter handle and a suave accent but none of that is enough to catapult Detroit into a higher tier of contending teams.

Game Vitals

When: February 3rd @ 7:30 p.m. EST
Where: Palace of Auburn Hills; Auburn Hills, MI
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit

Analysis

Since Dec. 13, Minnesota has been playing .500 ball. Does that matter? Well, kind of.

After a 7-18 start, the Timberwolves were playing bad hoops and despite the addition of head coach Tom Thibodeau, the Wolves were making the same mistakes - particularly late in games and defensively - that came to define their 2015-16 season. Things were suppose to different!

So what happened on Dec. 13? It was Thibodeau’s homecoming back to Chicago and Minnesota left the Windy City a winner.

The Timberwolf faithful point to that as the turning point of the season. Heading into tonight, Minny is only 2.5 games out of the final playoff spot in the West.

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We’ve talked about Thibodeau’s famed defensive scheme before so lets move on.

Using the Dec. 13 date as a starting point, an unlikely source of consistent play has come from Shabazz Muhammad with averages of over 11 points per game and an impressive 53 percent beyond the arc.

At 6-foot-6 and 225, Muhammad is strong and he uses that strength along with a south paw release to get his shots off:

Muhammad isn’t much of a shooter off the dribble but if you lose track or are slow to rotate in the half court, he’ll knock down the spot up:

If the Pistons perimeter defenders are reading this, make Muhammad go to his right hand as I’m not quite sure he realizes it’s there.

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Sticking with the Dec. 13 cutoff, Karl Anthony-Towns is averaging nearly four assists a game (along with 24 points and 13 rebounds). That assist average shows that he’s not only an able passer but a willing one, too.

Above, if KAT can consistently make that pass, it’s going to a long next 15 years for the remainder of the league.

Assuming Pistons’ bigs are reading this, do not fall for his the top-of-the-key pump fake (I won’t mention specific names).

Ugh.

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Projected Lineups

Minnesota

Ricky Rubio, Zach LaVine, Karl Anthony-Towns, Gorgui Dieng, Andrew Wiggins

Detroit

Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Andre Drummond, Jon Leuer, Marcus Morris

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Prediction

Pistons? At home? Is there a surer thing in all of sports?

Timberwolves 107, Pistons 113