The Wolves (6-8) take on the Milwaukee Bucks (7-6) tonight at 7:00 PM CST at Target Center.
Milwaukee started 6-2, and leads the Central Division. But the Bucks are fading, having lost four of its last five game. Having gone 1-6 in their last 7, the Wolves are a half game out of the cellar.
(In case you didn’t know, the West is way better than the East.)
Injuries are again the key story.
The growing anticipation of tonight’s Spurs-Heat game, a primetime TNT tilt, came to a screeching halt an hour or so ago. Gregg Popovich, the “arrogant in an endearing sorta way” coach of the Spurs, decided to leave all of his best players home to rest. No Danny Green. No Tony Parker. No Manu Ginobili. No Tim Duncan. No chance for a win. No reason for fans to watch. Pop takes a sick satisfaction in sticking it to the league–in this case, the fans too–and it is no coincidence that he chose primetime to utilize a favorite strategy of his to preserve player health and minimize the fatigue of an aging team. I think most, or all, fans would agree that this is bad for the league. But what can be done to stop it? Nothing, exactly, but here’s an idea for a strong deterrent, pulled right from the game-wrap comments section (h/t Dave A):
Award quarter points for regular season games.
Twitter was going wild on the Timberwolves Injury Report front in the hours leading up to tonight’s game at Staples Center. First, the good news:
Such. Great. News. I can’t wait to see Minnesota’s most-entertaining athlete back on the floor at Target Center. Should only be another week or two.
Now, the bad (for tonight’s game anyway):
That hurts. Through 13 games, AK47 is the team’s MVP. Without him, taking on a title contender, on the road, on 0 days rest, is not a winning proposition. But as Chris Berman might say if he were segueing into a game in which an unexpected result occurred, “That’s why they play the games.”
To the action…
The Wolves, coming off a feel-good victory last night in Sacramento, take on the Clippers tonight at Staples. A few things:
It wasn’t easy. Despite building a 13-point lead late in the 3rd Quarter of Tuesday night’s game at Sacramento the Wolves found themselves in a dogfight in the closing minutes. With a minute to go, and holding just a 2-point lead, Andrei Kirilenko cracked the code of the annoying Kings zone defense, filling a seam, catching a pass and quickly flipping it over to Nikola Pekovic for an open layup. On the other end of the floor, AK47 swatted a crucial shot of DeMarcus Cousins. When he secured the loose-ball rebound himself, the game was in hand, with the five-game losing streak snapped. The Wolves controlled most of this game, and deserved the win. Since we’ve got another one tomorrow night (@ LA Clippers, 9:30 CST) I’m keeping it short, so we’re heading into the bullet format:
‘Reke rocks the party
A struggling Wolves squad limps into Sacramento tonight trying to break their five-game losing streak against the Kings. Can they do it?
A few weeks ago, this would’ve looked like a gimme. But not anymore.
The Wolves are in disarray. At 5-7, they’re already in the cellar of a solid Northwest Division, just behind the 6-8 Portland Trailblazers. But if the Wolves lose tonight and fall to 5-8, that gap is likely to wide further tomorrow, with Portland scheduled to take on the Winless Washington Wi’zards.They badly need a win.
Five losses in a row and Ricky Rubio cannot return fast enough. Kevin Love’s unexpectedly-quick recovery from hand fractures, and immediate production of NUMB#RS, is not translating into wins. Minnesota is 0-3 since Love’s return. The common theme of the last three losses is building an early lead that evaporates as the missed shots and blown pick-and-roll assignments pile up. Tonight, the Wolves’ apex came in the mid-2nd Quarter when Alexey Shved and the second unit caught fire and extended the lead to 11, at 35-24. There would be no “fire” after that, unless you mean Steph Curry bombing from 27 feet. The Wolves lead dwindled to 4 at the half and it was a struggle to keep heads above water after that. Things fell apart in a catastrophic 4th Quarter that the Warriors won 26-11. Minnesota was stuck on 79 points (beginning the stretch with a 5-point lead) from the 10:19 mark in the 4th all the way to 5:28. After Kevin Love [finally] broke the seal with a bucket, the Wolves again stuck on 81 points until a Pekovic free throw at the 2:40 mark. 3 points in 7:39. There is your game wrap.
The Wolves don’t play Sunday and they don’t play Monday, so it’s worth addressing some broader questions. Continue reading