NBA Basketball

Warriors look to continue domination of Timberwolves

In their quest for top seeding in the Western Conference playoffs, the Golden State Warriors get an opportunity to pick on one of their favorite rivals when they visit the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night.

Golden State (51-23) will be seeking a fourth straight win over Minnesota, which would complete its third season-series sweep in the past seven years.

The Warriors have a 28-6 record against the Timberwolves over that stretch, including 13-3 at Minnesota.

The same two teams met last Tuesday in Minnesota, with Golden State riding a 36-point effort from Stephen Curry to a 117-107 win.

The three Golden State wins over Minnesota this season have come by an average of 11.7 points.

Kevin Durant had just 17 points in the win, beginning a stretch of five games in which he has become more of a pass-first player.

He had nine assists in the win, then three games later had a season-high-tying 11 while taking just a season-low six shots.

Durant did a little of both in Wednesday's 118-103 win at Memphis, shooting just eight times -- and making all eight -- before going 4-for-5 down the stretch to rescue a Warriors team that had fallen behind by one point.

He finished with 28 points, shooting a career-best 12-for-13, to complement five assists.

Draymond Green gushed over Durant's ability to change gears in the middle of a game.

"It was amazing," he assured reporters. "He was picking and choosing his spots early on, facilitating, and then when we needed him the most, he just took over the game and got buckets for us. It was a great night from him, and we needed it."

The Warriors are healthy for their return visit to Minnesota, which isn't good news for the Timberwolves.

To make matters worse for the hosts, Golden State comes to town even better equipped to deal with Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns, who has terrorized the Warriors in the three earlier meetings to the tune of 23.3 points and 14.3 rebounds per game.

Those numbers were 26 and 21, respectively, in last week's meeting.

But that was against a Warriors team that was resting DeMarcus Cousins. Golden State gave Andrew Bogut the start at center that night.

Since Ryan Saunders has taken over as interim coach from Tom Thibodeau, Towns has gotten busier. He is now the end-game in the Minnesota offense -- either a shot, a turnover or a free throw -- on 30 percent of the team's possessions.

One reason the ploy has been successful, Saunders explained to reporters, is that Towns has become a better passer. He's had three or more assists in each of his last seven games, raising his season average to a career-best 3.3

"He's being more patient," Saunders observed. "We work on it in practice and shootarounds. When a team does trap from the baseline, here are your outlets. He's basically able like a quarterback to go through his progressions."

Towns had four assists in last week's loss to Golden State. He'd totaled just five in the first two meetings this season.

--Field Level Media

Updated March 28, 2019

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