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.
Kevin Love vs. LaMarcus Aldridge
The marquee matchup in tonight’s game in LaMarcus Aldridge versus Kevin Love.
LMA’s outstanding play this season and the Blazers’ stellar record thus far have rekindled discussions about who is the best power forward in the NBA. Aldridge is averaging 23.6 points and 11 rebounds per game. His PER is 23.86.
Love, whom most consider the best power forward in the League, is averaging 25 points and a league-leading 13.6 boards per game. Importantly, Love’s passing game has evolved, and he’s averaging a career-high 4 assists per game. Love’s PER is 27.19.
LMA is unstoppable in the post, taking and making turnaround jumpers at will. K-Love is a grinder in the post, often struggling to get clean looks (though not as much as in the past), but compensating by being among the League’s best at drawing fouls and extending the defense with his deep range.
Basically, Aldridge and Love are completely different players, and it’s difficult to say in any decisive way who’s better. What matters right now is that the Blazers are winning and the Wolves aren’t. And that probably has more to do with differences in each player’s teammates than with either player’s performance.
Damian Lillard is
turning into an elite point guard. He looks like Chauncey Billups did back when Billups was good. He’s tough, he’s competitive, and he makes daggers. He’s particularly great in the midrange–a lost art in the age of spaced floors and stretch fours–especially from the extended elbows, as his shot chart below shows.
If Lillard’s a very good/great shooting point guard, Ricky Rubio’s a terrible one. (Eds. Note: No news here, but the comparison is worth noting.)
Rubio is actually shooting slightly better than Lillard from the top of the key and the left elbow/wing area, but by comparison, the amount of red on Ricky’s shot chart looks like a pool of blood. Lillard will be another tough assignment for Ricky Rubio tonight, to say the least.
I don’t like writing about Wes Matthews because I don’t like Wes Matthews. He isn’t flashy. He isn’t cool. The aesthetics of his game don’t jive with what I enjoy watching.
Matthews is currently averaging 16.2 points per and has the ninth-best 3PFG% in the NBA, at 45.6%.
Worst of all, Matthews always seems to kill the Wolves. Last season, in four games against the Wolves–all Portland victories–Matthews torched the Wolves for 21.8 ppg while shooting 62% from the field and 65% from distance. His average +/- over the four games was +11.
Wolves defenders won’t be able to leave Matthews to help on Aldridge, or it’ll be another long night of this.
I just threw up in my mouth a bit, so that’s all for now.
Enjoy the tilt.