The Timberwolves tonight in Sacramento play a Kings team in which they and four other teams are competing for the West's eighth and final playoff spot.
The Kings trail Denver by a game and the Wolves are three games behind, with the Kings, Potrland and Dallas between them and the Nuggets.
They're also playing a Kings team changed by last week's trade that sent star center DeMarcus Cousins to New Orleans and brought back No. 6 overall pick Buddy Hield and a protected first-round pick, among other pieces.
The Kings have started a long home-stand 1-1 since then while the Pelicans are 0-3 while trying to integrate Cousins with fellow big man Anthony Davis. They beat Denver 116-100 Thursday night and lost 99-85 to Charlotte on Saturday afternoon.
"But you know the players, it's not like you don't," Thibodeau said. "Buddy Hield, we've played against. Some of their young guys getting a chance to play, you studied them in college as well. There are no bad players in this league. You've got to be ready for everyone. They're going to play hard. They're good off the dribble. The strength of their club changes obviously when DeMarcus goes, but that gives other guys an opportunity to do some things."
That includes second-year reserve forward Willie Cauley-Stein, a Kentucky teammate of Karl Anthony Towns for a year. He had a 29-point, 10-rebound game against the Nuggets, then came back with two points and two rebounds against the Hornets.
Towns said he and Cauley-Stein have "talked a good amount" since last week's trade.
"I just real happy for him," Towns said. "He's getting an opportunity right now to play the game."
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