Gameday: Jimmy Butler brings big test for Bogdan Bogdanovic

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USATSI

Gameday: Jimmy Butler brings big test for Bogdan Bogdanovic

The Sacramento Kings hit the road for the first of three games away from Golden 1 Center leading up to the All-Star break. They’ll begin the trip Sunday in frozen Minnesota against the high-flying Timberwolves.

After a busy trade deadline, the Kings hit the road short-handed. Newcomer Iman Shumpert is nursing a plantar fasciitis injury and Bruno Caboclo has yet to practice with the team. Two-way players JaKarr Sampson and Jack Cooley are with the team and ready to play.

The T-Wolves have lost two straight, but by a combined three points. They are one of the best up and coming teams in the league, buoyed by All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns and Jimmy Butler, as well as high-end talents in Andrew Wiggins and Jeff Teague.

LINE 

Timberwolves by 13

WHERE THEY STAND 

Kings: 17-37 fifth in the Pacific

T-Wolves: 34-24 first in the Northwest

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Bogdan Bogdanovic vs. Jimmy Butler -- Bogdanovic loves a good challenge and he’ll get one in All-Star Jimmy Butler. The Kings rookie guard is growing into his role as a starter alongside De’Aaron Fox and his numbers are steadily climbing across the board. In his first season with the T-Wolves, Butler is thriving, posting 22.6 points, 5.1 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game. He’s one of the best two-way players in the league. 

INJURY REPORT 

Kings: SF Iman Shumpert (plantar fasciitis) out, PF Skal Labissiere (shoulder strain) out until after the All-Star break, PG Frank Mason (plantar fascia tear right heel) out until after the All-Star break, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out for the season. 

T-Wolves:  C Justin Patton (foot) day-to-day.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

Finish Strong -- The All-Star break is just four days away. Sacramento needs to continue to grow as a team and not take any game lightly. They’ll face a tough stretch, but each game is a learning experience. 

Consistent Lineups -- Dave Joerger has started the same line four straight games. Fox and Bogdanovic are getting a chance to mesh as a starting backcourt. Justin Jackson is earning playing at the three and Willie Cauley-Stein and Zach Randolph are developing chemistry on the front line. The second unit is short-handed, but veterans Vince Carter, Garrett Temple and Kosta Koufos are doing a solid job holding down the fort with second-year man, Buddy Hield. 

T-Wolves First Unit -- Not only do the T-Wolves hit you with a stellar first group, they play them all heavy minutes. All five starters average 33 minutes or more, leaving very little time for the bench group. There is no time to take a break against a team like Minny. 

SERIES HISTORY 

Sacramento won the season-series 3-1 last season, but the Timberwolves lead 1-0 this year after running over the Kings for a 119-96 win on Dec. 14. Minnesota holds a slight lead in the all-time series 55-53.

Gameday: Draymond vs Towns at Oracle Arena

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USATSI

Gameday: Draymond vs Towns at Oracle Arena

OAKLAND -- In their effort to reassert dominance at home, the Warriors can expect a tough test Thursday night, when the Minnesota Timberwolves visit Oracle Arena.

Coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 6:30, with tipoff scheduled for 7:35.

The Warriors (38-10) have lost three of their last eight homes games, which is a dramatic drop for a team that over the last three seasons won 92.7 percent of its games at Oracle. As an experiment, the Warriors on Thursday altered their routine, going without a morning shootaround.

It should be to their advantage that Minnesota (31-19) is playing for the second time in two nights, having lost Wednesday in Portland. The Timberwolves under Tom Thibodeau also have been particularly vulnerable late in games, ranking 29th in fourth-quarter margin at minus-1.7. The Warriors in November had a 44-point third quarter against Minnesota.

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 11

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Draymond Green & Co. vs. Karl-Anthony Towns: Any conversation about the best under-25 big man in the league includes Towns. Selected this week for his first All-Star Game, the 22-year-old is 7-foot, with the agility and skills of a small forward. He’s averaging 19.9 points on 53.9-percent shooting (41.4 percent from deep), 12.1 rebounds and 1.52 blocks. The Warriors have been effective in the past using double teams, a strategy that is riskier with Minnesota’s improved offense. Though three or four different Warriors might take turns on him, Green surely will be in the mix.

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: G Klay Thompson (L glute contusion) is listed as probable. G Pat McCaw (mid-back strain) is listed as out. F Jordan Bell (L ankle inflammation) is listed as out. C Damian Jones is on assignment with the G-League Santa Cruz Warriors.

Timberwolves: G Jimmy Butler (R knee soreness) is listed as questionable.

LAST 10

Warriors: 8-2.

Timberwolves: 7-3.

GAME OFFICIALS

Marc Davis (crew chief), Matt Boland, Scott Twardoski

SERIES HISTORY

The Warriors won the first of three meetings this season, 125-101, on Nov. 8 at Oracle. They won three of four meetings last season, 11 of the last 13 and 24 of the last 29 overall.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

THE STARTING BLOCKS: The Warriors have been notoriously slow starters this season, and it’s most prevalent at home. Though they usually pull themselves together, late rallies aren’t always enough to get the victory. The decision to skip the morning shootaround is indicative of the coaching staff seeking answers.

THE TURNOVER GAME: The Warriors are prone to turnovers (15.3 per game, 28th in the league) and that tendency could get them in trouble against the Timberwolves, who are No. 2 at forcing turnovers (15.3) and No. 3 in converting them into points (18.7).

KD VS. WIGGINS: Veteran SF Kevin Durant, averaging 25.9 points on 51-percent shooting, may be the most complete scorer in the league. Andre Wiggins, at age 22, has been on an offensive tear lately, though, averaging 31.0 points on 57.6-percent shooting over the last three games. Though either is capable of going off, Durant is the vastly superior defender.

Steve Kerr's thoughts on T'Wolves? 'I've seen some really ugly uniforms'

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AP

Steve Kerr's thoughts on T'Wolves? 'I've seen some really ugly uniforms'

Headed into Wednesday's slate of games, the new and improved Minnesota Timberwolves (31-18) sit in third place in the Western Conference standings. 

Something else outside of their record first comes to mind for Steve Kerr though. 

"I've seen some really ugly uniforms," Kerr said at practice on Wednesday. "The lime green. The neon lime green. I like it as a secondary color... not a huge fan." 

The Warriors play the T'Wolves Thursday night at Oracle Arena at 7:30 p.m. PT. After joking around, Kerr turned to a more serious tone. 

"Team's good. The team's better than those uniforms," Kerr said. "They're tough and they're getting better every night."

Minnesota will be represented by two players at the All-Star Game this year -- shooting guard Jimmy Butler and center Karl-Anthony Towns. 

"Jimmy Butler's playing at a totally different level," Kerr says compared to when the Warriors played the Wolves in preseason.