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Preview: Hornets begin five-game home stand against Timberwolves

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Charlotte meets a sliding Minnesota team for the first time this season

Charlotte Hornets vs Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

What: Charlotte Hornets (12-14) at Minnesota Timberwolves (6-19)

When: 7:00 pm EST

Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, N.C.

How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass

For the first time this season, the Charlotte Hornets will take on the Minnesota Timberwolves and it could serve as an opportunity to correct Wednesday’s blowout loss at the hands of the Memphis Grizzlies.

The T-Wolves come into Charlotte losers of their last three games and eight of their last ten total contests. They are currently tied with the Detroit Pistons for the worst record in the NBA, though that be partially attributed to Karl-Anthony Towns missing 13 games with COVID-19 complications before returning on Wednesday.

He’s only played in five games, but Towns is still averaging 21.2 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and 2.2 blocks per game, though his 34.8 3-point percentage is the lowest since his rookie season on 4.6 attempts each night. The Hornets always struggle against elite big men and tonight will probably be no different, but theoretically it will be easier to adjust beyond that than usual against the second-worst team in net rating in the NBA.

Malik Beasley is making up a solid case for the Most Improved Player award after signing a four-year, $60M contract last offseason; he’s averaging 20.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists on 45/38.3/85.5 shooting splits and showing more reliable potency as a scorer.

First overall pick in the 2020 Draft Anthony Edwards is averaging 13.9 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game and has flashed elite finishing ability at the rim and pull-up shooting inside the arc, but an eFG percentage (42.7) in the eighth percentile among NBA players indicates that he isn’t efficient just yet.

Jarred Vanderbilt and Naz Reid have performed well within their roles this season; Reid posts 20.9 points and eight rebounds with 2.1 blocks and a 61.7 true shooting percent per 36 minutes, and Vanderbilt has been a rangy forward/big defender with a 2.5 steal percentage in the 98th percentile while also flashing a little bit of passing chops.

D’Angelo Russell (left leg soreness) and Jarret Culver (left ankle sprain) will both be out tonight for the T-Wolves.

There is one issue that will lead to the starters playing heavy minutes tonight: Caleb Martin and Cody Martin (health and safety protocols) will both be out. Devonte’ Graham (left groin strain) is questionable.

The Charlotte Observer’s Rick Bonnell said above it’s “unclear” how long the Martin twins will be out, but it might be multiple games if the team is making Jalen McDaniels fly and go through the testing protocols to be with the team again. McDaniels is not eligible to play tonight, however, per Nick Carboni of WCNC.

Thankfully, neither Caleb nor Cody appears to have tested positive, per Rod Boone. Without the Martin twins and Graham, the Hornets are down to nine active players: LaMelo Ball, Bismack Biyombo, Bridges, Gordon Hayward, Malik Monk, Nick Richards, Terry Rozier, and PJ Washington and Cody Zeller. Bridges, Monk and Biyombo is the likely bench rotation with Richards being the garbage time/injury insurance.

There’s a complete lack of depth on the wing beyond Hayward this evening, which could lead to some three-guard lineups with Monk/Rozier/Ball, or Bridges playing big minutes on the wing for the first time all season. Graham being ruled healthy pre-game would give Borrego some breathing room, but it’s not at all worth rushing him. We should know more closer to game time.

Update at 6:00 PM EST: Washington has also been ruled out due to health and safety protocols but Graham is available to play.