Programming note: Warriors-T’wolves coverage begins tonight at 7:00 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area with Warriors Pregame Live (Territory restrictions apply) Channel locations
The Warriors, who too often this season walked out of Oracle Arena mumbling to themselves after losing to an inferior team on their home court, can exact a measure of revenge on one of those teams Monday night.
The Timberwolves make their final appearance in Oakland this season. The last meeting, on Jan. 24, resulted in a 121-120 loss that left the Warriors bemoaning their defensive lethargy. It was painful, yet it could be absorbed.
Not so tonight, given the Warriors (49-31) status in the Western Conference race.
Another loss to the Timberwolves could be excruciating, exposing the Warriors to the possibility of dropping to the No. 7 seed. A win, on the other hand, would clinch the No. 6 seed.
"We know where we are," forward Draymond Green said after a thrilling 119-117 overtime loss at Portland on Sunday night. "We've still to go win one more to secure . . . but win two games and try to go into the playoffs rolling, not just stumbling."
The Warriors own pole position over the Mavericks and Grizzlies and Suns, but the race for seeding continues.
Dallas (49-32) clinched a berth and remains behind the Warriors but could move up with a win over the Grizzlies on Wednesday night. Memphis (48-32) could rise with wins over Phoenix and Dallas. The Suns (47-33) could get to No. 8 by beating the Grizzlies on Monday and then Sacramento on Wednesday while Dallas beats Memphis.
It's confusing, but the Warriors can simplify matters by winning Monday night and not having to worry about Wednesday in Denver.
"We want to lock ourselves into a number," coach Mark Jackson emphasized.
The Warriors played fairly well Sunday but it wasn't enough to beat the Trail Blazers on their home court. The Warriors made it close despite a four-point, four-rebound game from starting power forward David Lee.
Playing with consistent intensity was one reason the Warriors hung in there against Portland. And it likely will be good enough against Minnesota.
"We've got to keep the energy and that effort like we had (Sunday)," Stephen Curry said. "Just try to get our last home game, leave Oracle with a win and finish the regular season off. That's the mission (Monday night)."
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Curry vs. Ricky Rubio -- Pretty much every opposing point guard wants a piece of Curry, and Rubio is no different. Though he can't score like Curry or defend Curry, this matchup has very high entertainment potential.
David Lee vs. Kevin Love -- Both power forwards are recovering from injury but each is crucial to the success of his team. Lee typically plays well after a poor game, so that's a good sign for the Warriors. Love simply is a beast.
Andrew Bogut/Jermaine O'Neal vs. Gorgui Dieng -- The young big man is raw but he's figuring out ways to be productive. If Bogut can't go, the onus falls to the 18-year veteran, who might get help from the likes of Marreese Speights and maybe even Hilton Armstrong.
INJURY REPORT: For the Warriors, SF Andre Iguodala (right knee tendinitis) is day to day. C Andrew Bogut (ribs) is questionable. C Festus Ezeli (right knee surgery) still out indefinitely.
For the Timberwolves, C Nikola Pekovic (sore right ankle) is doubtful. SF Chase Budinger (sprained right ankle) and SF Shabazz Muhammad (sprained right MCL) are out.
LAST 10: Warriors 5-5, Timberwolves 5-5.
SERIES HISTORY: The teams split their first two meetings this season, each winning on the opponent's home floor. The Warriors have won or split the season series with Minnesota in each of the last eight seasons, including a 4-0 sweep last season, and have won 13 of the last 16 games overall.