Paul Millsap leads the Hawks against the Timberwolves tonight in Atlanta.
Coming off of last night’s disappointing 94-90 loss to Memphis at home, the Wolves take on the Atlanta Hawks tonight in Atlanta in the second game of a back-to-back.
The Wolves had won five of six before falling to Memphis, but despite their stronger record as of late, at least three things still feel very off.
The first and most obvious is how the loss of center Nikola Pekovic has impacted the Wolves offense.
The Wolves play at Philly tonight. I’m sure everyone involved is happy to be outside of Minnesota where the temps are so cold that the Governor canceled school (and apparently Minneapolis has already done the same for tomorrow). The game is at 6:00 CST and can be seen on FSN and heard on 830 WCCO.
Let’s preview this one in INBOX format.
The Timberwolves take on the Washington Wizards tonight at 7 P.M. CST at Target Center. The game can be seen on NBATV or heard on WCCO 830.
The marquee matchup tonight is at the point guard position, where Ricky Rubio and John Wall will square off.
Rubio has been predictably enigmatic (OXYMORON!) this season. He does so many things well, but the unanswerable question is whether Ricky’s kryptonite–the jump shot–will forever banish him to second-tier status among NBA point guards and compromise his team’s chances to keep opposing defenses honest in half-court sets. Similar questions have been raised about Wall.
Two of the NBA’s best power forwards, LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love, square off tonight at Target Center (Photo credit: NBA.com)
The Wolves take on the Portland Trailblazers tonight in Minneapolis. Tip is at 7 P.M. CST. You can watch live on FSN or League Pass, or listen on WCCO 830.
The Blazers have the best record in the NBA at 22-4. They have the best road record in the NBA at 12-2. They’re on a five game winning streak, and they’ve won 9 of their last 10.
In short, the Wolves have their work cut out for them tonight.
Jordan Crawford’s got killer steez. (Photo credit to truthaboutit.net)
The Wolves are in Boston tonight to close a three-game road trip. The game will be on NBATV at 7:30 P.M EST.
The 12-12 Wolves will be going up against a surprisingly decent Celtics team, whose 11-14 record is probably better than a lot of Celtics fans would prefer, given the strength of the top end of the 2014 NBA Draft, which will likely feature uber-prospects Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, Jabari Parker, Marcus Smart, Dante Exum, Joel Embiid, and others.
New Celtics coach Brad Stevens is viewed by many as a coaching prodigy whose prowess on the sidelines underlies the Celtics (relative) success so far. There’s been a ton written on Stevens and the bang-up job he’s doing with a Celtics team largely bereft of blue-chip talent. Grantland’s Zach Lowe has a nice interview of Stevens here. (Lowe is always recommended reading, and this piece is no exception.)
The Celtics are a team on the rise.
Note to Rick Adelman: Don’t let Alexey Shved near this man tonight. (Wait, Alexey couldn’t get near him if he tried. Nevermind.)
The Wolves are at home for tonight’s tilt against the Cavaliers. The tip is at 7 P.M. CST. You can watch it on FSN (most of you) or League Pass (me).
The Wolves will try to undo some of the damage witnessed in their horrific first-three quarters performance on November 4, which presaged a Wolves run in the fourth quarter that fell a Kevin Love buzzerbeater away from a huge comeback win. (Eds. Note: Andy G and Patrick J attended the November 4 game in Cleveland. A photo diary of the festivities can be seen here.)
The starting lineups should look like this.
Several interesting matchups stand out.
Ricky Rubio vs. Kyrie Irving
Rubio-Irving is the marquee matchup. Ricky is a flashy point guard who’s leading the league in steals and is one of the best defensive point guards in the business. As Wolves watchers know too well, Ricky has his problems shooting the ball, and with scoring more generally. Irving is Rubio’s mirror opposite in many ways, excepting the flashiness part: Kyrie is arguably the best pure-shooting point guard in the League not named Stephen Curry, but he struggles mightily on defense.
Ironically, Mike Brown executed perhaps the best in-game strategy of any opposing coach this year to exploit Ricky’s shooting ineptitude, daring Rubio to take open shots and doubling down hard on Wolves post players, who struggled to get any interior offense going against the Cavs’ collapsed, outsized defensive trio of Anderson Verejao, Tristan Thompson (!), and Andrew Bynum, the last of whom has been moved into the starting lineup in place of Verejao.
The Wolves might consider executing a similar strategy by trying to bait Dion Waiters into taking long jumpers whilst shading Kevin Martin to help against Cleveland’s bigs.
I spilled a lot of virtual ink yesterday about the Wolves season to date. They went on to pummel the Lakers, defeating LAL by the most points in franchise history and for the first time in years. Three pointers by the Kevins, Outlet bombs to Brewer, pesky backcourt defense, and a Ricky Rubio triple double all factored into the win. Oh, and Nick Young’s shot selection.
Another big one tonight at the same arena, against a much better Clippers team.
Update (11:05 A.M. CST): It’s a cliche , but we’d be remiss not to honor Ricky’s triple-double (highlights here) by giving it the proper Ice Cube treatment (see 1:18) – Patrick J
It Was A Good Day (NSFW, depending where you W)