OAKLAND -- Two of the hottest teams in the NBA collide Wednesday night, when the Warriors, without Kevin Durant, face the remodeled Minnesota Timberwolves at Oracle Arena.
Coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 6:30 p.m., with tipoff scheduled for 7:35.
Durant came away limping after taking a knee to his left thigh on the Warriors’ first offensive possession Monday against Miami. He played through it, but soreness kept him out of practice Tuesday and will sideline him Wednesday.
Andre Iguodala will start in place on Durant, head coach Steve Kerr announced two hours before tip-off.
The Warriors (8-3), who have won their last four games, faced the Timberwolves (7-3) twice during their preseason sojourn to China. This is the first of three meetings in the regular season.
Minnesota in the offseason brought in eight new faces, including three starters, in its quest to enter the playoffs for the first time in 14 seasons -- the longest active postseason drought in the NBA.
Warriors by 8.5
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Klay Thompson & Co. vs. Jimmy Butler: Butler is among the new acquisitions and Wolves quickly discovered his value when they were blown out in the two games he missed. They haven’t lost since the former Bulls All-Star returned on Oct. 27. Though Thompson will get the bulk of the defensive assignment, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala will take their turns.
Warriors: F Kevin Durant (L thigh contusion) is listed as out. C Damian Jones is on assignment with the G-League Santa Cruz Warriors.
Timberwolves: C Justin Patton (L foot surgery) is listed as out.
Ken Mauer (crew chief), Derrick Collins, Gediminas Petraitis.
The Warriors won three of four meetings last season and have won 17 of the last 20.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
TRACKING THE KAT: Wolves C Karl-Anthony Towns may be the best of the talented young big men to confront the Warriors of late. The 7-footer is averaging 20.4 points, 11.4 rebounds and 2.6 blocks over the past five games. He’s fabulous on the block but also capable of launching the 3. The Warriors could’ve used Durant’s length but will have to settle for whatever they get from Zaza Pachulia, JaVale McGee, Jordan Bell, a dash of David West and Green. This could be a low-minutes game for Pachulia. Best bet: get Towns in foul trouble.
ATTACK THE PAINT: Opponents are shooting 49.5 percent against the Wolves, making them dead last in field-goal percentage defense. They do a decent job defending the arc (35.1 percent, 11th in the league) but can be vulnerable against half-court sets and particularly in transition. Only two teams allow more points in the paint and only one allows more off fast breaks.
THE ROTATION FILES: This will be intriguing, as Warriors coach Steve Kerr continues to search for the right rotations. The Timberwolves are rife with cross-matching possibilities. Durant’s absence will hurt. Aside from presuming either Stephen Curry or Thompson will be on the floor at all times, it’ll be interesting to see how and when Kerr deploys his bench.