Sixers-T-Wolves 5 Things: Juicy Matchup Between 2 Prototypical Modern Bigs

The Sixers (2-9) finish off a back-to-back set with Thursday night's nationally televised game against the Minnesota Timberwolves (3-7) at the Target Center (8 p.m./TNT).

Let's take a closer look at the matchup:

1. Trying to double down
The Sixers will attempt to carry over some momentum on the court after holding off the Washington Wizards, 109-102, for their second win of the season.

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Even with Joel Embiid sitting out, the Sixers were able to hang on to a lead that ballooned to as large as 24 points in the victory.

“We’ve been, obviously, in a lot of tough games,” Jahlil Okafor said. “I think we did a better job today of staying composed, we didn’t turn the ball over, and we had some really key stops that we needed. It’s good to see all the hard work is paying off.”

We'll really see just how much the Sixers are reaping the benefits of their hard work if they can snap a 20-game road losing skid when they tip off against the T-Wolves.

2. The revolution will be (nationally) televised
Even with the Sixers and Timberwolves combining for just five wins to start the season, there are plenty of reasons to be intrigued by this matchup.

Both teams are full of young and impressive draft picks who are projected to take their respective teams to the next level. The Timberwolves (average age of 23.6 years) were supposed to be further along than the Sixers (average age 24.6) at this point, but it's not for a lack of talent.

Last season's Rookie of the Year, Karl-Anthony Towns, could be the prototype NBA center of the future. He's averaging 22.0 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.2 blocks per game.

Towns is joined by scorers Andrew Wiggins (26.6 ppg) and Zach Lavine (19.7 ppg) to form a potent trio.

The Sixers will get their own leading scorer and rebounder in Embiid back on the floor Thursday night. The rookie is putting up 18.0 points, 7.3 boards and 2.3 blocks per night.

And while the opinion on Okafor seems destined to always be mixed, he put in work against Towns and the T-Wolves as a rookie. Okafor, who was just cleared to play in back-to-back sets, averaged 17.5 points and 7.5 rebounds vs. Minnesota in last season's two meetings.

Just imagine how much juicier this clash would be if No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons and Nerlens Noel were healthy and No. 5 pick Kris Dunn wasn't struggling.

3. Look out from long range
With high-flyers Wiggins and Lavine on the wing and Towns down low, it would make sense to protect the paint against Minnesota.

However, the Timberwolves have actually done a lot of damage from long distance this season. They are shooting an NBA-best 41.9 percent from three-point range.

The T-Wolves have six players shooting at least 40 percent from beyond the arc. Wiggins (20 of 37, 54.1 percent) and Lavine (28 of 60, 46.7 percent) lead the charge from long range.

4. Injuries
Simmons (foot), Noel (knee) and Jerryd Bayless (wrist) are out for the Sixers.

Shabazz Muhammad (knee) and Brandon Rush (toe) are game-time decisions for the Timberwolves. Nikola Pekovic (ankle) is out.

5. This and that
• The Sixers have beaten the Timberwolves in three of the last four meetings.

• Towns averaged just 7.0 points and 4.5 rebounds against the Sixers last season.

• The Sixers shot a season-high 54.5 percent in their win over the Wizards on Wednesday.

• Something to watch: the Timberwolves' free throw promotion. If an opposing player steps to the free throw line in the fourth quarter for two shots and misses both, fans get free frozen yogurt. Clippers center DeAndre Jordan had fun denying Timberwolves supporters of the sweet treat last weekend.

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