The Timberwolves opened up the season at home for the 13th-consecutive season and they certainly didn't disappoint...almost...but, no! In many ways it was a new beginning for a franchise that has had a tumultuous past decade, however trends of the past couple seasons still made appearances in this overtime thriller of a win.
Much like the Wolves of 2012-13, the 2013-14 Timberwolves blew a big double-digit lead in this one and let one of the NBA's inferior teams back into this game. The Wolves nearly threw it all away, but we got another vintage K-Love triple much like that 2011-12 game in L.A. vs. the Clippers.
Despite blowing a 17-point lead, the Wolves had the ball down by three with 12.4 seconds to play and Love caught the ball and found himself wide open (thanks to some excellent screens--primarily from big man Nikola Peković) and buried the bomb to knot it at 103 with 10.1 seconds to play.
Out of a timeout, the Magic got the ball to Arron Afflalo who let the clock run almost entirely out before turning for the fadeaway jumper that was too flat and bounced off the side of the rim. It was newcomer Corey Brewer who provided some excellent defense that forced the miss and thus overtime.
Kevin Martin & Nikola Peković each converted and-ones in overtime, Martin led with 7 points and Pek added 5 to help the Wolves outscore the Magic 17-12 in the extra quarter for the 5-point, 120-115 win.
There's very little question that this Timberwolves team is the best it has been in a VERY long time, but they still have plenty of work to do. The Wolves are playing to get back to the postseason and they were just pushed the edge by a team that's hoping to land a top pick in the 2014 Draft.
The Wolves have to find a way to maintain a lead once they've built it. There's no reason this offensive juggernaut can't hold a double digit lead that allows the stars to sit and spectate down the stretch.
Let's take a look at tonight's box score...
The Wolves hit just 32% from deep and 42% from the field, but it was their free throw advantage that helped propel them to this W. That's thanks in large part to adding Kevin Martin to the roster and having a healthy Kevin Love back. The two Kevins went 21-for-25 while the rest of the team went 7-for-9. Martin went a perfect 9-of-9 in the game and 3-for-3 in overtime. The Magic shot just 18 free throws to Minnesota's 34 and hit just 61.1% of them.
Surprisingly the Wolves were out-rebounded in this one by a +5 (those extra five coming on the defensive end). Despite that the Wolves held advantages in fast break points (+7), assists (+6) and committed just 19 fouls to Orlando's 29. The Wolves also turned the ball over just 15 times, despite playing a 53-minute game.
A lot of positives for this Wolves team, however the Wolves' overall team D needs to improve and they have to prove they won't be complacent with big leads.
FINAL NOTES: Adelman played just nine guys tonight and one of those wasn't Derrick Williams, a lot of the backup small forward minutes went to three-guard lineups (with some combination of J.J./Shved/Rubio/Martin). Brewer also played 40 minutes and Dante saw some time there as well. Will be interesting to see how that evolves throughout the season. I do like Brewer in the starting lineup, but it leaves J.J. Barea as the only big offensive threat off the bench. The Wolves' bench scored just 26 points and 21 of those came from J.J. (11) and Dante (10). They HAVE to get more production from Alexey Shved and could really use someone else off that bench to provide instant O.
The Timberwolves are back in action on Friday night. Same place (Target Center), same time (7pmCT), but against division-rivals, the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Minnesota Timberwolves begin the 2013-14 regular season on October 30th when they take on the Orlando Magic at the Target Center. Wednesday's game is the first game in a season of very big expectations. The Wolves are looking to end their decade-long playoff drought and it all begins vs. the Magic this week.
The Wolves will then have a day off and then they're division rivals: the Oklahoma City Thunder. For the last few years, these two teams have had incredible matchups highlighted by that double overtime loss in Oklahoma City two years ago in March.
Let's take a look at the Wolves' likely starting lineup (all stats are from the 2012-13 regular season) for these two games...
Rick Adelman hasn't yet decided on who to start at small forward. It sounds as though it's down to either Corey Brewer or Derrick Williams. However, in this week's games, it seems likely that Adelman will have to go with Brewer--especially in Friday's game vs. the Thunder (against Kevin Durant). It's obvious that Adelman prefers Brewer's energy off the bench, however when it's all said and done, Corey should still see 30+ minutes a night.
Rick Adelman has also said he'd like to use a 10-man rotation to begin the season, but he may have to go with 11 for the first couple weeks. That 10-man rotation likely includes the 5 listed above in addition to: J.J. Barea, Alexey Shved, Derrick Williams, Dante Cunningham and Ronny Turiaf. The 11th player could be: A.J. Price, Robbie Hummel or Gorgui Dieng.
Minnesota finished the preseason 4-3 with a finale loss to the Pistons in Detroit on last-second Josh Smith three-point buzzer-beater, last Thursday. Last season the Wolves finished last season 31-51.
Now with a (nearly) completely healthy roster the Wolves will look to end their nine-year playoff drought. Most experts/analysts have the Wolves finishing with anywhere from 41 to 52 wins this year, good enough for anywhere from the 5th seed to the 8th seed.
Oct. 30 vs. Orlando Magic
For the 13th-consecutive season, the Minnesota Timberwolves will open up the regular season at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Last year the opener was vs. the Orlando Magic, tonight it'll be the Orlando Magic, who they went 1-1 against in 2012-13.
Orlando is one of the team's going through the rebuilding process this season. Perhaps not as extreme as the Philadelphia 76ers or Phoenix Suns, but they aren't looking to compete for it all, just yet. Unlike the Sixers and (to a lesser extent) the Suns, the Magic have a lot of talented young players that should still allow them to 30 wins this season.
The biggest question for Orlando is how long their veterans will be on the roster. There's very little doubt that as we approach the Trade Deadline, you'll hear Jameer Nelson, Arron Afflalo and Hedo Turkoglu floated in many a trade rumor. Turkoglu has a large $11M+ contract and they haven't come to terms on a buyout so he's been asked to stay away from the team--much like the Raja Bell situation these past couple years in Utah (though there doesn't seem to be as much bad blood in this situation).
The Magic played on Tuesday night vs. the Indiana Pacers and dropped their regular season opener, 87-97 (in Indiana). The Pacers went on a 17-4 run to start the fourth quarter to put away Orlando for the win.
Let's take a look at Wednesday's likely starting lineup...
The Magic will begin the season mixing some veteran talent along with their young guns in their starting lineup. Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo should lead the team in scoring and they make for a pretty talented starting backcourt. I'd expect both to have a change of address by the end of the season.
I still don't understand why Jason Maxiell joined the Magic and even more that he's the starting power forward! Tobias Harris had a breakout season starting at the four for the Magic a year ago, now he's coming off the bench (though he is currently out with a sprained ankle).
The Magic will be without Harris (ankle) as well as guard Doron Lamb (sprained ankle) for this game.
The Wolves will have an upperhand, being that Wednesday's game is the second in a string of back-to-backs for Orlando, however the Wolves can't begin the game lethargic like they did vs. CSKA Moscow. There's no doubt that the Wolves may have one of the best offenses in the NBA. The Wolves could have two 20+ scorers (Martin & Love) on the roster in addition to the playmaking of Rubio and the 13-17 points a night they'll get from Peković.
The concern will be defense, however Rick Adelman should be able to turn the shortcomings of individual players (Martin, Love, Peković) and make the team collectively better.
The Wolves should have little trouble with the Magic. Minnesota has to exploit the Maxiell-Love matchup and Peković has to win the Nikola battle. I'll be interested to see if Afflalo can slow down the offensive firepower of K-Mart. I would be surprised if the Wolves don't win this one by double digits.
Let's take a look at Friday's matchup vs. division rivals: OKC Thunder...
Nov. 1 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
The Wolves went 4-12 in the Northwest division in 2012-13. Two of those wins came over the team that won the division: the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder should win the division again this season, but the big concern will be how they can get along until Russell Westbrook returns from his knee injury.
I read a report from Woj that said Westbrook could return within two weeks, that was as of Tuesday afternoon. Obviously he won't play in this one. Reggie Jackson will get the start in his place, let's take a look at the rest of the likely starters...
Reggie Jackson showed he's capable of running the point last year in the postseason when Westbrook went down against the Houston Rockets for the year. Jackson and Derek Fisher will run the point in his stead.
Without Russell, Durant should put up some pretty incredible numbers to begin the season. I wouldn't be surprised if he averaged 40 a night for the first few weeks of the season (he won't, but he COULD). The Thunder also need offensive help from second-year Jeremy Lamb as well as defensive big man Serge Ibaka.
I like the Wolves' odds in this one. If Corey Brewer can slow down Durant even a little bit, the Minnesota should have enough offensive firepower to overcome their rivals.
I know that the Wolves don't really have any rivals in the NBA, but I think this has quickly become one. I definitely consider them rivals. In the NFL the Packers and the Vikings are rivals, much because Lambeau & the Metrodome are a mere four hours apart. Milwaukee and Minneapolis are close themselves, but we all know that the Wolves and the Bucks are NOT rivals. With the battles these two teams have had these past few years, highlighted by that 2011-12 game in March in which Love scored 51, Westbrook & Durant each scored 40 apiece and the Wolves lost in double overtime.
The Thunder had a Top 10 team in assists, rebounds and defense (points allowed) and they ranked third in the NBA in offense (points per game).
The Wolves went 2-2 against the Thunder last year and for zero of those games did the Wolves have a completely healthy roster. The Wolves are without Chase Budinger, but the big names are back (Love, Rubio & Peković).
This will mark Kevin Martin's first game against his former team. The Thunder traded away James Harden a season ago to the Houston Rockets and in return received Toronto's first-round pick in the 2013 Draft (used to select center Steven Adams) as well as Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb. Martin played just one season with OKC as the team's sixth man. Now, K-Mart is back in a starters role and back with the coach and the offensive system that allowed him his most successful seasons. Should be a good matchup against two guys that used to go at each other in practice (Sefelosha & Kevin).
Both games will tip at 7pmCT, both from the Target Center! We'll have gameday recaps following both contests, enjoy the games!
Here's the recap from tonight's preseason finale in Detroit...
-Just checked into the game now, missed the first 9(ish) minutes of the first quarter. Wolves lead by 5, 16-11 with 3:15 to play in the first quarter.
-I see Nikola Pekovic is out with a quad contusion. Turiaf started and the starting small forward tonight was Dante Cunningham. Of all the players I thought might start at small forward these last two games, I didn't pick Hummel or Cunningham in any scenario. I like the idea of Dante as the starting three, mainly from a defensive standpoint. You are sacrificing having more scorers in that starting five by starting him, though. Dante is definitely a better perimeter defender at the small forward (compared to Derrick Williams).
-Ricky Rubio is apparently ON FIRE! Hope he keeps it up so I can see him hit some more threes.
-I like this Pistons squad, especially the potential of their starting frontcourt: Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. There only real weakness might be Drummond's low-post scoring and Smith's perimeter scoring.
-In the recent GM survey, the Pistons were listed as the team who they thought would be most improved this season. I think they still have a lot of question marks and with a lot of new faces, they need to gel together quickly.
-Bynum hits a shot at the buzzer to tie this one at 20 after one quarter.
-Rubio leads the Wolves after one with 10 points, including hitting 2-of-3 from deep.
-The Wolves start the second quarter with a Barea, Shved, Brewer, Williams, Dieng lineup.
-Alexey Shved gets the Wolves the first basket of the second quarter on a triple. He's definitely looking better from deep after a less than stellar 2012-13 campaign from deep.
-It's clear the Wolves haven't really cooled down from deep (from what I've seen). Barea nails another triple and on the next offensive possession, J.J. drives the lane for the scoop shot layup. Next offensive possession, Barea finds Brewer on the baseline for an alley-oop slam. It's clear that the second unit offense runs through J.J. and in this game it's working for the Wolves.
-In what I've seen, offensively from Gorgui Dieng...he's struggling. Missed a handful of mid-range jumpers (we know he has that range) as well as some misses in the paint. Of course, I don't think the Wolves are going to be asking him to do too much offensively when he plays.
-If you read my recap from yesterday's win over the Sixers, you'll know why I don't like the Pistons' rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. PICK A LAST NAME! Making me write that out every time!
-Dieng is getting some extended run with no Nikola Pekovic tonight. Seconds after I wrote that he got called for the foul and came out of the game in favor of tonight's starting five-man, Ronny Turiaf.
-A Josh Smith triple followed by an Andre Drummond bucket in the paint, gives the Pistons on a 32-40 lead and Detroit is on a 13-0 run.
-Wolves back with the starters out of a timeout following that 13-0 run. They go to work and trim the lead to 5, 38-42 with 3:30 to play in the half.
-Despite bringing the starters back in, the Wolves are still gettting out-hustled in this one. Need to turn up the intensity and get back on defense! A lot of easy transition hoops for the Pistons in that late part of this quarter.
-With no Nikola Pekovic in this one, the Pistons' big men (Monroe & Drummond) are getting to the rim and finishing quite easily. Wolves need to toughen up on the interior. They're also settling for far too many jumpers.
-Watching Caldwell-Pope match up with Kevin Martin it really makes me wonder what the team would look like if the Pistons had not taken KCP with the 8th overall pick. It was widely assumed that he'd go #9 to the Timberwolves. Of course, he went one earlier, the Wolves traded down for #14 & #21 and got Shabazz & Dieng. Makes me wonder if we had got KCP, would we have Martin? Brewer? Re-signed Budinger? Who knows, can't say I'm upset that the Wolves have Martin instead though! Incredibly talented offensively and fits perfectly in Adelman's O.
-Corey Brewer misses a three at the buzzer and the Wolves trail the Pistons 46-51 at the half.
-The Wolves are still being led in scoring by Ricky Rubio w/10pts on 4-7 FG, 2-3 3PT as well as 1reb, 1ast & 2stls in 15 minutes. Kevin Love has played 17 minutes and has 7pts, 7reb & 2ast.
-The Pistons are being led by the hustle and athleticism of Andre Drummond. He has 7pts, 12reb, 1ast & 1blk in 20 minutes. Willy Bynum has orchestrated the offense VERY well off the bench, in 11 minutes he has 9pts, 3reb & 5ast.
-The Wolves are shooting 37.5% from the field, 42.9% from deep and a perfect 10-for-10 at the line. The Pistons are shooting 48.7% from the field, 44.4% from deep, but just 9-for-16 from the line (56.2%).
-Wolves need to be more efficient on the offensive end and vary up the attack. Yes, there's no Nikola Pekovic tonight, but someone (LOVE!) needs to establish some low-post scoring in this one.
-Drummond grabs another board and is now up to 13 on the night! Showing K-Love how it's done? Love just with 7 on the night.
-Wolves do go with the same starting lineup that began the game: Rubio, Martin, Cunningham, Love & Turiaf.
-WOW! K-Mart with a drive and fadeaway over a LARGE Drummond paw as he's hacked. Gets the ball to go and nails the and-one for the three-point play.
-I definitely expected a lineup with defenders Cunningham, Turiaf and Rubio to be a bit better defensively, but they haven't been able to slow down the Pistons' offensive attack.
-Rubio definitely looking more confident in his shot. He airballed a three at the shot clock buzzer, but he stole the outlet pass from Drummond and came right down the court, jump stop, pop and buried it off the glass.
-Wolves haven't been good defensively, but their offense is keeping them in this one. Martin nails a triple on one possession, the next offensive possesion (following a defensive stop) K-Love hits from deep. Just a one-point game, 57-58. Next offensive possession for the Wolves, K-Love hits ANOTHER triple. Minny on a 9-0 run all triples, all from the Kevins! Wolves lead 60-58 and Mo Cheeks calls the timeout.
-I feel like this may be the story this season: the Wolves are going to be porous on D, but they'll have an incredibly lethal offensive attack--especially with Pek back in the lineup and Chase Budinger returning to lauch from deep.
-Rubio gets back in on the three-point action as he nails his third triple of the game! Now up to 15 points on the night! Did it and got hit on the arm on his release too (no foul call, but nailed it anyway).
-I don't expect Rubio to be a lethal three-point shooter, but if he shows he has that kind of range and when left alone will actually hit those shots, this team's offense becomes 100x more lethal.
-Mr. Love misses the three, Turiaf boards, Love cuts down the lane and Ronny finds him for the one-handed hammer over Greg Monroe! Looked real pretty.
-Kevin Love finally establishing himself in the paint (just as I said the Wolves needed) it's begun to open up a lot of things both for Love and his teammates.
-Kevin Martin with another one of those fadeaway floaters, gets it to go down and will go to the line for the and-one. This team will be infuriating when they're not on offensively (just because the D won't be very good), but when they're 'on', this may be the NBA team that's most fun to watch.
-Ricky Rubio looks shaken up on a play, walks up the court strangely. Next dead ball brings in J.J. as he heads to the bench. Looked like something to do with his neck or shoulder. Didn't get a good look at the play in real time, haven't seen a replay either.
-Kevin Love pumped faked three times in the post and got stripped by Kyle Singler, Singler fell out of bounds and as he did, Love booted him in the face (very accidental, not another Luis Scola situation). Love helped him up afterwards.
-The Wolves lead by 5 after three quarters, 75-70. Love had 12 in that quarter, Martin added 10 and Rubio another 5. Very high-powered offense for the Wolves who outscored Detroit 29-19 in the third.
-The Wolves begin the final quarter with Barea, Martin, Brewer, Williams and Dieng.
-Martin buries another, this one heavily contested, now up to 18 on the night.
-Will be interesting to see how Martin and Barea operate with one another in the backcourt.
-Derrick Williams takes a shot to the mid-section as he drops to the floor. Wolves call a timeout, but he seems to be all right. I didn't see it, so I don't know if it was indeed in the mid-section or if it was a bit lower...that's seemed to happen to Derrick a number of times in his few NBA seasons.
-Was just looking on Twitter and it sounds as though it was indeed a 'nutshot'.
-I also saw that the Sixers have waived Royce White, so I guess they just want him to 'shut up'. If you didn't read my recap last night, that makes no sense to you.
-The Pistons lead the Wolves by 3 with 8:25 to play. Will be interesting to see if Adelman goes back to Love & Rubio in the final 4-5 minutes to close this one out. Part of me says: No, don't risk injury. The other REALLY wants them back on the floor.
-This should be a much improved Pistons squad, especially when they get Brandon Jennings and Rodney Stuckey back from injury.
-Andre Drummond with the putback slam and is now up to 11pts & 19reb. Would've been less with Pekovic out there, but a heck of a game from a guy who will be in talks for Most Improved all year long. He picks up his 5th personal on Dieng with 6:26 to play and heads to the bench. Will likely see him out there again before this one is over.
-Kyle Singler has been knocked on his rear about six times tonight. At least one was a flop, but the others...the Wolves are just shoving him to the deck.
-Two Josh Smith free throws make it 83-86 Detroit with 5:30 to go.
-Pistons basically going with starters (Bynum in for Siva) against Minnesota's Barea, Shved, Brewer, Williams & Dieng. With 3 minutes to play it's clear this is the team that will close out the game and they're down by 2; 89-91.
-The Piston broadcasters continue to talk about how bad both these teams want to win this one. I know Adelman wants a win, but if he REALLY wanted a win he'd have his stars in and they've haven't been seen in this final quarter. Whereas the Pistons have gone mainly with their best players down the stretch.
-Barea shakes and bakes around Bynum who stumbles to the floor and J.J. nails the wide-open 20-footer.
-It's Greg Monroe shooting two free throws with 1:03 to play. The Pistons lead 94-95. Monroe misses them both. Adelman takes a timeout with 58.8 seconds to go, down 1.
-Who the hell is the guy on the Pistons with the beard and high ponytail?! Hahaha. If someone knows his name, you gotta let me know!
-Williams nails a long two to give the Wolves a 97-96 lead. With 45.7 seconds to go, Detroit takes a timeout.
-Brewer gets whistled for the foul and Josh Smith heads to the stripe for two. He goes 1 of 2 to tie it with just over 40 seconds to play. 96-all.
-Williams takes another long two, this one misses. KCP rebounds and is fouled by Barea as he tries to race downcourt. KCP steps to the line for two. He misses them both and it's still 96-all with 18 seconds to play. Adelman calls a timeout. The Pistons are 1-for-6 from the line here late in the fourth quarter.
-I would love to be Adelman's shadow for a day...it would be a heck of a learning experience. Such an incredible wealth of knowledge on the game. Let's see what he's drawn up for this final shot. Regardless of whether it's what he drew up I say this one ends with a J.J. Barea shot! YES IT DOES! Barea drives the rack and hits a lay in over Drummond. Wolves lead by 2; 98-96 with 3.6 seconds to play. Detroit Timeout.
-Josh Smith bounces in a triple at the buzzer to give the Pistons the W. The Palace goes wild and the broadcasters say, WHO SAYS THE PRESEASON DOESN'T MATTER?! Everyone, everyone says that... We'll win in the regular season and that's all that'll matter. It's great to see that Minnesota's second unit can hang with a solid starting unit like the one in Detroit. Went back-and-forth with them all night. This loss doesn't hurt one bit. Can't wait for the season opener vs. the Magic next week!
With no Nikola Pekovic the Wolves struggled a bit on the interior, luckily Love was able to establish himself a bit more in the paint, in that third quarter. The Wolves were narrowly edged in the rebounding battle 42-45, however Detroit's starting center Drummond did go off for a 20-rebound night.
The Wolves were definitely hitting threes in this one, however they did seem to settle for them a bit too much. I think with Pekovic returning that should improve as they'll look to balance the attack a bit more.
The Wolves did take care of business at the line and shot a respectable percentage from the field, but really it was not having a more balanced offensive attack that hurt them in this one. Clearly, they would've won if not for Smith's last second desperation three that somehow went in, but the Wolves didn't look quite as good as we know they can be.
That's all for preseason action, the real deal starts next Wednesday night at the Target Center when the Wolves will take on the Orlando Magic for the first game of the 2013-14 NBA regular season!
Here is tonight's recap, done like I have the last few. I apologize in advance for the final two quarters as it gets a little..."weird". ENJOY!
-Adelman is still trying to figure out his small forward rotations and most importantly, who will be the starter at that three-spot. Sunday in Boston it was Derrick Williams, tonight it will be rookie Robbie Hummel and tomorrow in Detroit, it's sounding as though it will be someone else, as well.
-Wolves are going with the regular four with Hummel: Rubio, Martin, Love & Pekovic.
-The Sixers are going with rookie Michael Carter-Williams, James Anderson, Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes.
Other Pre-Game Notes...
-This is Philadelphia's last preseason game of the fall and it will be Minnesota's second to last, as they travel to Detroit tomorrow night to take on the Pistons.
-The Wolves are in need of a starting small forward and (as @JerryZgoda noted on Twitter) they face two forwards that are available via trade: Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young. I'll be quite interested to see who makes the team and who starts at small forward vs. the Magic in a week in Minnesota's regular season opener.
-Just prior to tipoff they were showing close-up faces of each of the Sixers' starters and only one of them (Thad Young) looked happy to be there.
-Hummel is matching up with the Sixers' leading scorer in the preseason: Evan Turner. Hummel's first one-on-one vs. him (Turner on O), Hummel comes through with nice footwork and gets in his face for the missed 17-footer. About two minutes later, the same good D and another missed mid-range jumper for Turner.
-Rubio finding Love early in this one, Love with 5 of Minny's 7pts with just over 3 minutes gone in the first quarter. 15 seconds later, Love drains another triple to give him 8 on the night.
-James Anderson is the hot hand for the Sixers early, he's got 8 of their 12 (including two threes).
-Another good defensive play for Hummel as he draws the charge on Turner. If Hummel were to make the team, he'd be a solid role player for the Wolves. I don't know that he could really be a starter, there's no way he can guard the LeBrons, Durants or Carmelos...but who can...?
-The Sixers lead 14-10 with 6:30 to play in the quarter.
-Love still the only Wolf to make a field goal, the other two points of Minnesota's 10 came on a pair of Pekovic free throws. Gotta get Martin & Pekovic contributing more.
-A beautiful high-low feed from Pek to Love for the one-handed jam. You know that's what Adelman likes to see.
-Royce White checks in now. I hope Pek puts him on a poster.
-Kevin Martin nails a triple and that's the first non-Love field goal for Minnesota. Sixers lead 16-17, 4:30 to go in the quarter.
-There's another Kevin Love three and he's now got 14 first quarter points! Still 4 minutes to play! Rubio with the steal and finds Martin for the lay-in. The Wolves are on an 11-2 run that forces a Sixer timeout and gives Minny a two-point advantage.
-Wolves bring in Ronny Turiaf for Pek out of the timeout. Muhammad gets in a minute later as well, for Hummel. Adelman definitely wanting to get a good look at these small forward possibilities in this one. We'll see if he can mesh with Love & Rubio. Shabazz's first shot is an airball triple.
-Rubio has four first quarter steals! Clearing taking advantage of matching up with the rookie point guard.
-A game break near the end of the quarter sends Love & Rubio to the bench, Barea and Dante join the others in the final two minutes of the quarter.
-Royce White goes coast-to-coast for the jam...I still don't like him. My biggest qualm? Either shut up and play or shut up, go away and don't play. Either way, just shut up!
-The Wolves end the quarter with an Alexey Shved triple, Minnesota leads 30-26 after the first quarter. Minnesota also forced Philly into 8 turnovers.
-Wolves going with the subs to begin the second quarter (Barea, Shved, Muhammad, Cunningham and Turiaf).
-Wolves are raining triples, this time Barea (now 6 total as a team) in the first 14 minutes of this one.
-Michael Carter-Williams. Seems like a good kid, who will get a lot of run in Philly this season, but pick a last name already! Don't make me write Michael Carter-Williams or Carter-Williams every time!
-New head coach Brett Brown gets called for the technical foul after he ran out on to the court following a play in which he felt the Wolves should have been called out-of-bounds. Minnesota hits the technical free throw.
-WHOO! Barea going to work offensively in this one: hitting threes, driving the lane and hitting step back jumpers. It's Good J.J. tonight.
-Wolves lead 43-31 with 7:30 to go in the first half.
-Wolves battling for the offensive rebounds and after a second and third chance, Muhammad hits a putback.
-Ronny Turiaf already with 10 REBOUNDS in this one! He heads to the bench with 6:30 to go in the quarter and Pek returns. Turiaf had those 10 boards in just over 9 minutes of action.
-Barea hits another shot and he's now up to 15 points tonight! Wolves lead 50-35.
-Wolves go back to the starting unit (Shabazz instead of Martin) for the final six minutes of this one. Martin joins the other starters with 4:30 to play in the quarter.
-Another three, this one for Martin. Isn't it nice to watch a Wolves team that can actually hit threes? Yes, yes it is! On the ensuing possession, Kevin Love hits one.
-For those that remember the game in Philadelphia vs. the Sixers last year, it's clear that these Wolves love the Wells Fargo Center.
-Robbie Hummel has been decent on defense, but he can't hit a shot tonight. Has had plenty of open looks that haven't found bottom.
-Pekovic and Orton get tangled up in the paint. Orton hooked Pek's arm and Pek shoved him in the back. Refs call a foul and Orton will shoot two free throws.
-Rubio with yet another steal, this one on Darius Morris. Giving these young Sixers guards fits.
-Hummel finally gets a shot to find bottom as Rubio finds him for the jam.
-Timberwolves lead 64-50 after the first half.
-Kevin Love led the charge for the Wolves. He finishes the first half with 19pts on 7-15 FG, 4-6 3PT, 1-2 FT as well as 6 rebounds. Barea came off the bench and in 8 minutes has 15pts on 4-6 FG, 2-3 3PT, 5-6 FT and 1ast. Martin has 10 points and 2ast, he's shooting 3-6 FG, 2-4 3PT and 2-2 FT. Ronny Turiaf came off the bench and in 10 minutes has 2pts, 10reb and 1stl.
-The Sixers were led by their starting shooting guard. James Anderson has 13pts, 3reb, 1ast, 5-6 FG, 2-3 3PT in 14 minutes.
-The Wolves took the big lead with their three-point shooting. Minnesota shooting 9-of-16 from deep as a team (56.3%). The Sixers are just 3-of-10 (30%). The Wolves, however are shooting just 38% from the field (19-for-50), while Philly is shooting 18-for-45 (40%). The Sixers are also leading in blocks 0-7, fast break points 9-20 and points in the paint 16-30. The Wolves have been winning the turnover battle as they've forced 11 turnovers and only coughed it up 5 times themslves. Rubio had 5 first half steals to go along with 2pts, 5reb & 5ast.
-Adelman going with a different unit to start the third. Starters Kevin Martin and Robbie Hummel are joined by Turiaf, Cunningham and Barea.
-J.J. not cooling down at all as he knocks down a 20-footer to give him 17 on the night. That, however was sandwiched in between two bad defensive plays. The first where he quit on a play and gave Carter-Williams an easy transition dunk and the next an over-the-back call. Of course on the offensive end following that, he hits a floater to give him 19. I'll take this good, with those bads though.
-This second unit for the Wolves (that started this quarter) is having no problems vs. these Sixer starters. Philadelphia is going to be BAD this season!
-Ronny Turiaf getting under the skin of Carter-Williams. Slams over the rookie down low and then they get a little tangled up on a screen on the following offensive possession. He probably told him to chose a last name!
-I like Ronny Turiaf probably 1,000,000x better than Greg Stiemsma, give or take a 1,000,000.
-Robbie Hummel, who's supposed to be known for his shooting touch continues to struggle from the mid-range as he bricks another.
-Barea hits his 3rd triple and now has 22 on the night and that's the 12th Minnesota bomb.
-Gorgui Dieng enters the game for Ronny Turiaf, he joins Barea, Cunningham, Shved and Hummel. Looks like it's going to be be subs for the remainder of this one. Should see a lot of Bareea and his second unit guys as well as the fringe and deep reserve players.
-As I type that Derrick Williams checks in for the first time this night and A.J. Price enters (for JJ) as well. Dante Cunningham got ejected after a pair of technicals, letting Williams see some time tonight. Said something the refs didn't much appreciate.
-Gorgui Dieng has white shoes. Very white shoes. Just thought you'd like to know!
-These refs continue to chat at the scorers table in this one. Do they not realize that the Wolves are blowing out the Sixers, this is the preseason and no one cares!
-A brief sidebar: Philadelphia's Tony Wroten apparently also got ejected after a couple of technicals at some point midway through this third quarter.
-Oh, the meeting at the scorers table between refs was about another technical foul (on the Sixers).
-Now there's some confusion as it sounds as though Wroten was supposed to be ejected and not Cunningham, though Dante definitely went to the locker room. Again, it's preseason, so who really cares. Gives some of the young guys a bit more run, I suppose.
-Was watching some stout perimeter defense by a Wolves swingman in this one and I though, DANG, Muhammad is playing some pretty good D. Then I realized it wasn't #15, but #12: Othyus Jeffers. Suddenly made a lot of sense.
-Wolves end the third quarter with A.J. Price knocking down a buzzer beating three, TWolves lead the Sixers 96-78 aftter three. Despite not playing Rubio, Love or Rubio in that quarter (and Philly playing mostly starters) the Wolves still outscored the Sixers 32-28. Wolves have scored 30 points or more in every quarter.
-The Wolves start the final quarter with A.J. Price, Shabazz Muhammad, Othyus Jeffers, Derrick Williams & Gorgui Dieng.
-I'm keeping track of the quarter-by-quarter scorers for this game and I REALLY hope that Brett Brown doesn't clear his bench, cause I don't have much more room in this notebook. The Sixers do have a 20-man preseason roster! That's the concern! Again, just thought you might like to know.
-Watching this game, I think there's really only one Sixers player that I really like and that's forward Thaddeus Young. I really wish he was playing for a better team. I would definitely trade Derrick Wiliams to get him here. I know he began his NBA career almost exclusively as a small forward, I think he could fill that role for the Wolves. Definitely a better perimeter defender, compared to D-Will.
-Haven't seen any Corey Brewer this evening. Not sure what that's about, maybe Adelman knows he'll be a big part of the small forward rotation and wants to get a better look at the other guys in competition for minutes there. Give Brew a night off. Will probably see extended time for him tomorrow in Detroit.
-The Wells Fargo Center court has to be getting wet out there! Oh...why? Cause the Wolves are RAINING THREES! ...Do...do you get it? Okay, good. That one was another triple for A.J. Price.
-This unit (mentioned above) that the Wolves are going with are playing some pretty good defense. Not giving up anything easy and protecting the rim.
-Hollis Thompson knocks down a pair of free throws for the Sixers. He's a former Oklahoma City Thunder. Not sure how/why I know that. Also not sure if/why you'd care.
-HAHAHA! Gorgui Dieng gets rejected at one end by Spencer Hawes. Then, Dieng runs the length of the floor and rejects Hawes who thinks he has the easy lay in. I like Gorgui!
-Lorenzo Brown now into the game. He's certainly the one player I know won't make the final roster. I would add Chris Johnson to that list if not for the guaranteed money, but I don't think that will save him, either.
-This Sixers squad is going to be BAD. Like historically bad. Like Charlotte Bobcats two years ago bad. Like the Sixers team that won just 9 games in the 70's bad. Bad. And not when bad is good, but when bad is bad.
-Chris Johnson is also now in the game. I officially ran out of notebook space....so that's just great.
-I can't wait till the regular season, I don't enjoy watching these D-Leaguers jack up shots. Just as I type that, former Gopher Rodney Williams hammers through the dunk of the night. So...I stand corrected.
-I tell ya, Johnson really making his case...to be cut. A foul on one end, a terrible pass on the other, an airball from the mid-range. BLAH!
-Now my iPad is almost dead! This game needs to end right meow. 2:10 to go, Wolves lead 119-97.
-This Sixer crowd really wants Philadelphia to hit that 100-point mark, for whatever kind of Taco or Klondike bar they get. Let's hold 'em to 97! NO TACO FOR YOU!
-Orton hits a pair of free throws and it's now 123-99 with 1:20 to go.
-BLAH! The Sixers bury a three and it's Big Macs for ALL! The crowd was more pumped for Big Macs then they have been this entire game. I guess I would be too.
-That's all she wrote, the Wolves walk away with the 125-102 win, move to 4-2 on the preseason.
The Wolves got great production from J.J. Barea and Kevin Love, both of whom played limited minutes. Barea played just 17 minutes off the bench and dumped in 22 points. Love played just 16 minutes (all in the first half) and he nailed 4-of-6 from deep, scored 19 points and grabbed 6 rebounds.
There wasn't a single Philadelphia player who posted a positive +/- in this one. Rough night, one of what will be many for the Sixers this year.
The Wolves shot 46.3% from the field and 51.7% from deep. The Wolves nailed 15 of 27 from three, more than doubling Philadelphia's totals in the same number of attempts. The Wolves lost the battle in the paint (32-50) and on the break (14-30). Philly shot the ball 100 times in this one, but only connected on 35 of those. Rough, rough night for Philly.
That's all for now, the Wolves will be back in action tomorrow night for their preseason finale vs. the Pistons in Detroit. Thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
If you're a recurring reader/follower you've seen this form of recap: the in-game analysis. I write about the game as I watch...mainly updates on scores, stats and most importantly my in-game thoughts--checking in on key matchups, sharing thoughts about opposing players, etc. Enjoy!
-I was a bit off on the starting lineups for both teams. It's Williams instead of Brewer for the Wolves and Courtney Lee instead of Jordan Crawford and Gerald Wallace instead of Jeff Green for the Celtics.
-Williams starts the scoring for the Wolves with an and-one vs. Wallace.
-Love starts the game hot. 3-4 FG & 2-3 3PT.
-Minnesota's offense is HEATING up. Easy buckets, open looks...I can't remember the last time I've seen a Wolves offense come this easy. I think we'll see quite a bit of that this year.
-Boston rookie Kelly Olynyk enters the game with just over 6 minutes to go in the first quarter. This is someone I've been looking forward to seeing. He's matched up against Kevin Love, too.
-There's nothing that these Celtic big men can do against PEK. It was the same last season when they faced each other late in the season and Boston was without Kevin Garnett. He's making Jared Sullinger look weak out there.
-The Wolves have cooled a bit since the Celtics took that timeout. It's now 20-18 Wolves with 4:20 to play in the first quarter. Celtics on a run and getting out on the fast break for very easy buckets.
-Jared Sullinger has taken two threes in this first quarter and neither have been very close. May need to get back in the gym with that one. Sully reminds me a bit of Glen Davis, a big 250lb.+ big man who can throw his weight around...still getting it together, but should make some strides with these rebuilding Celtics this season.
-With 3:15 to play in the first quarter, Adelman still hasn't subbed anyone else in--giving this first unit a lot of run. Adelman did say he'd play Rubio & Love quite a bit tonight, will it approach 35+ minutes?
-Kevin Martin heating up from deep as he hits two on consecutive possessions. Has 11 in this quarter, Love with 9. This will undoubtedly be a Top 5 offensive team this season.
-Turiaf, Brewer and Shved hit the floor with Rubio & Love with just over 2 minutes to go in the first quarter. Gave that starting unit a solid 10 minutes together to start this one.
-Jeff Green flies to the rack for an easy lay in, there's no doubt he should average 20+ a game for these Young Celtics.
-Barea comes in for Rubio with 30 seconds to go in the quarter. Kevin Love plays the entire first quarter.
-The Wolves end the quarter up by 4, 31-27. Love with 11pts, 3reb, 2ast, 1stl; Martin adds 11pts, 1reb, 3ast. Gerald Wallace leads the Celts with 10pts, 1ast, 1stl.
-Wolves going with all subs to start the second quarter (Cunningham enters for Love).
-Ronny Turiaf with the massive swat on rookie Olynyk. Wolves take the ball down court and Shved drains the triple, excellent "D leading to O".
-WOW! The Wolves pummeling the Celtics on the offensive glass as they gather boards at least 5 times on one possession, ending with a Dante bunny shot.
-There's no question that Ronny Turiaf is one of my new favorite Wolves. Like Anthony Tolliver before him, you've got to love a guy who leaves it all on the court and plays with unlimited hustle and energy. Right now they've got a Brewer, Cunningham, Turiaf frontcourt, that's the epitome of hustle players.
-Wolves lead 41-32 with 8:15 to play in the half.
-That Dante mid-range jumper...OH YEAH!
-The Celtics are getting their buckets on the break. Wolves need to limit turnovers and get back quicker on defense. Wolves lead by 5, 45-40 with just under 6 minutes to play.
-The Celtics have their starters back on the floor now, Adelman brings back Love, Pek & Martin to join Brewer and Barea.
-It's clear that the focal parts of the offense will be Love & Martin. I wonder what kind of numbers Pekovic will average this season (16 points and 9 rebounds a year ago). I'm thinking 14 points and 8 rebounds.
-Adelman goes back to the full starting lineup (Rubio & Williams) to end this first half.
-The Celtics have been finding quite a few buckets on the break and on bunny shots in the paint, but they have had a few possessions where they've moved the ball very well, made the extra pass(es) and found the open man for an easy look.
-The Celtics start two physical big men (Brandon Bass and Jared Sullinger) however they are definitely undersized 6'8" and 6'9". Not a HUGE concern against Minnesota's 6'10" and 6'11", but they will definitely have some games where their undersized frontcourt will hurt them.
-Wolves winding down the quarter and Rubio converts a layup, then gets a steal (within 5 seconds of one another) to give the Wolves another possession.
-The Wolves end the first half with Love knocking down two free throws to put the Wolves up 57-51 after two quarters.
-Wolves end the first half shooting 40.5% from the field, 40% from deep and 85% from the line. The Wolves have gone to the line for 20 attempts as the Celtics racked up 14 first half fouls. The Celtics have 8 steals and 9 fast break points as a team.
-Kevin Love leads all scorers with 16pts, 3reb, 2ast, 1stl, 3-7 FG, 2-5 3PT, 8-9 FT in 17 min. Martin adds 11pts, 2reb, 3ast, 3-5 3PT and Rubio had 6pts, 3reb, 4ast, 1stl.
-The Celtics were led by Wallace: 12pts, 1reb, 2ast, 2stls; Bradley added 7pts, 3reb, 2ast, 3stls and Jeff Green came off the bench for 9pts, 3reb, 1ast, 1stl, 1blk.
-Wolves go with same starting unit, the Celtics start Jeff Green in place of Courtney Lee in the second half.
-Kevin Martin begins second half guarding Jeff Green. Obviously a mismatch in favor of Boston. Of course, with the Celtics essentially starting one guard (Bradley) and four forwards, there should be mismatches aplenty for Minnesota on O...haven't really taken advantage yet.
-Rubio just drained a three! Took it with time winding down on the shot clock and buried it!
-Vitor Faverani makes his first appearance for Boston in this second half after Sullinger picks up his fourth personal foul. See if he can find more success vs. PEK on the block.
-I think Rubio has shown improvement on his shooting and finishing ability. However, those thinking he should become Ray Allen overnight are just dumb. He's definitely improving though.
-The Wolves with a very good defensive possession. Nice transition D by Minnesota leads to three missed Boston shots and Minnesota ball following a foul call.
-Wallace hits two free throws to make it a five-point Wolves lead 69-64 with 6:30 to go in the third quarter.
-Rubio doing a lot more playmaking this quarter. We haven't seen a lot of his playmaking abilities through the preseason, but it's on full display here in the third quarter as he's driving the lane for lay ins and dump passes to wide open big men.
-Gerald Wallace has looked very good in this game. With 16pts with 5:40 to go in the third. If he's committed, he could revitalize his career in Boston this season...I think he's still got plenty of basketball left in him (productive basketball at that).
-That fadeaway floater that Martin throws up is a heck of a shot. It always seems to either find bottom or get him a foul call. Very effective. But that's Kevin Martin: very effective.
-Faverani looking good on the offensive end, a small sample size that I've seen him, but I think there's little doubt that he'll work his way into the rotation in Boston this season and could challenge Sullinger for that starting center spot. In nine minutes of action he's up to 8 points.
-WOW! Kevin Love with the fake in three-point land (Faverani bites) and drives the lane for the one-handed slam on Vitor. Welcome to the NBA rook.
-Speaking of rookies, Adelman hasn't played anyone outside his 10-man rotation of the starters and then Barea, Shved, Brewer, Cunningham and Turiaf. None of the non-guaranteed guys or rookies Shabazz & Dieng.
-After three quarters, the Wolves lead by 9; 81-72. Martin leads Wolves with 19, Love adds 18.
-Wolves start the final quarter with their second unit of Barea, Shved, Brewer, Cunningham and Turiaf. Celtics go with Lee, Crawford, Brooks, Olynyk & Faverani.
-There was rumored interest for the Wolves on draft night in Kelly Olynyk (apparently Flip tried to trade up (after trading down to #14 & #21) to draft him). Watching him tonight, I don't think he would have been a very good fit with this Wolves squad. Of course, it looks like Muhammad and Dieng aren't fitting into any plans early this season, either.
-Vitor Faverani jacked up a three on a possession and I don't understand what is with this big physical Boston bigs (Vitor & Sullinger) jacking up triples...and missing badly?! Maybe they do have that range...but not in this game tonight!
-A big concern for the Wolves heading into this game was coming out of the gates firing and keeping up the energy for 48 minutes after having eight days off between games. They've done that and have looked good through 39 minutes in this one.
-Watching J.J. Barea out there in this one. I think if he can be the sparkplug/energy guy off the bench that the Wolves will look to him for, he could be in the conversation for Sixth Man of the Year. Will be very interested to see his averages in another couple months.
-TWolves playing some sloppy defense in this final quarter. A lot of penetration allowed in the paint and then lazy fouls on the interior by the Wolves.
-The starters return to the court for the final five minutes in this one and they're looking to close this one out RIGHT NOW. On fire offensively and they lead by 20; 102-80 w/3:30 to play.
-With just a few minutes left to play, Adelman has played just 10 players. All of those guys will be in the rotation and it's likely he adds one or two more to that rotation throughout the year. Maybe one of the rookies (Bazz or Dieng), but it seems more likely that they make a trade or sign a free agent to help out on the wing off the bench. Of course, when Chase finally returns (November or December sometime) he'll work his way into extended minutes.
-As I finished writing that, Adelman emptied his bench and we get an appearance from CHRIS JOHNSON!? First preseason game he's played. Also joining him: Robbie Hummel, A.J. Price, Shabazz Muhammad and Othyus Jeffers...so make that 15 players taking the court tonight.
-A lot of fouls called in these final couple minutes. these last two minutes are taking FOREVER. Chris Johnson not impressing out there with consecutive fouls, one on a defensive possession and another on the ensuing offensive possession...oh...what's that another foul...fancy that. Boston back to the line for a couple more and this last minute make take another 20 minutes... Hahaha...another foul call and the clock stops again! Gotta love this high-octane NBA action Montreal!
-And that's (finally) the game. The Wolves win 104-89 and move to 3-2 in the preseason.
Let's take a look at tonight's box score...
The Wolves could NOT rely on the three-point shot at all last season. Tonight, they leaned a bit more heavily on it and it paid off. Kevin Martin led the charge as he buried half of Minnesota's makes from deep and finished 5-of-8 from deep for a team that went 10-for-25. That meant less points in the paint (38 to Boston's 50), but for tonight, it worked. That's going to be the great thing about this Wolves squad, when things aren't working on offense, they have a lot of guys who can score in a lot of different ways. The Wolves owned the boards and won the battle by a +14. They did struggle taking care of the basketball, something they did very well in their first couple preseason games. That carelessness with the ball led to those fast break points for the Celtics as well as their advantage in paint scoring.
The Wolves play again on Wednesday night vs. the 76ers in Philadelphia. Check out the weekly preview in the post before this one to get ready for that one! Until then, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
The Minnesota Timberwolves play three games this week...
Sunday, Oct. 20 vs. Boston Celtics in Montreal, 5pmCT
Wednesday, Oct. 23 @Philadelphia 76ers, 6pmCT
Thursday, Oct. 24 @Detroit Pistons, 6:30pmCT
Let's take a look at the likely starting lineup for Adelman's Timberwolves...
Kevin Martin is expected to return to the starting lineup after missing the last two games and all but six minutes of the game prior to those. He was out while he nursed a sore achilles, but returned to practice on Tuesday and was at about 90% healthy.
The Wolves will also be without Chase Budinger as he continues to rehab from his meniscus surgery. He's not expected back until sometime in late-November or December.
Rick will likely play his starters around 30 minutes tonight and give some significant minutes to the guys he'll be playing a lot off the bench; getting his rotation down. Then, I'd expect the starters to play a bit more on Wednesday vs. the Sixers in Philadelphia and then give them 20-30 minutes on Thursday vs. the Pistons before they get to their season opener on October 30th.
Apparently, the starters have been building some great chemistry and have been talking trash to the second unit in practices. It's sounding as though the whole team is close, much like they were last season and quite different from just a few short years ago.
The Timberwolves have been bad at home in their two preseason games at the Target Center and getting the first unit on track and energized early will help these Wolves. Granted, they don't play another preseason game at the Target Center this season, they need to come out of the gates firing. Spark plug Corey Brewer should be able to help with that and the Wolves just need to continue to look for high-percentage shots...eventually they'll find bottom.
Let's take a look at the Wolves' first matchup this week: the Celtics on Sunday in Montreal...
Oct. 20 vs. Boston Celtics
The Timberwolves will travel to Canada for a second time this preseason (the first to take on the Raptors in Toronto), but this time to take on the...Boston Celtics? Minnesota & Boston will meet in Montreal for this exhibition game.
The Celtics are a rebuilding team that lost all three of their Big Three these past two seasons: Ray Allen to Miami last summer and KG & Pierce to Brooklyn this summer. All that remains is now franchise cornerstone: Rajon Rondo. Rondo, however is still recovering from ACL surgery and will miss the first part of the season. The Celtics are most certainly in rebuild mode, as much as Boston fans don't like to admit it (and continue to cling to the fact that they'll still be a 7th or 8th seed in the East...but I don't see it happening).
The Celtics made the trade to send KG & Pierce out of town, but they also 'traded' away their head coach (Doc Rivers) to the L.A. Clippers. With that, they chose Brad Stevens to take over in Bean Town. Let's take a look at his likely starting lineup in this one...
Without Rondo, the Celts are going with Avery Bradley at point guard, once Rondo returns from his ACL injury, Bradley will likely shift to that shooting guard position. For right now, the Celtics are going with Jordan Crawford at the two-guard. However there are also two other two-guards on the roster that should make this a competition for the starting minutes in the backcourt with Avery. The other two candidates: Courtney Lee & MarShon Brooks.
The Celtics will be relying on Jeff Green to be their main offensive weapon this season. He'll be their starting small forward and likely be looked upon to dump in 20+ nightly. He's definitely got all the tools to do so and I expect a lot of success for Mr. Green this season. I still like to think what a Westbrook, Harden, Durant, Green, Ibaka Oklahoma City Thunder would look like (with no never mind given to salary cap...of course).
It's sounding as though the Celtics will go with the undersized Jared Sullinger at center to start the season. That could change on down the road as rookies Kelly Olynyk and Vitor Faverani and former Net Kris Humphries will battle for time at the five. I imagine that Peković will have a big game in this one against Boston's undersized big men.
This is Boston's seventh preseason game and through their first six, they've only been victorious once. That one win came against the Knicks on Oct. 12 vs. the New York Knicks. They've dropped contests vs. the Raptors (twice), Knicks, Sixers and the Nets.
I'm looking forward to this game to see Boston's rookies take the floor: Kelly Olynyk, Vitor Faverani and Phil Pressey. Olynyk was actually a player the Wolves were looking to move up (after trading down to #14 & #21) via trade to draft him. From everything I've heard he did well in Summer League, but ultimately I'm glad he's not on the team (the frontcourt is pretty crowded in Minny). Faverani is someone they signed from overseas and Phil Pressey went undrafted this summer.
I really want to see the Wolves start hot and stay hot in this one!
Oct. 23 @Philadelphia 76ers
The Timberwolves have been linked to the Sixers these past couple days as rumors are flying that the Wolves are in search of another wing player and are considering Evan Turner as an option (via trade).
However (as of Friday evening) Turner is still a Sixer and he'll be Philly's starting small forward in this one. I think Turner is a decent player, who has yet to live up to his #2 overall selection...much like Minnesota's Derrick Williams. A swap of those two players would have the Wolves giving up a bit more, but it would put both players in better situations/environments.
The Sixers are in full tank mode this season and I feel bad for players like Spencer Hawes, Jason Richardson, Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner who could be contributing on playoff-bound teams that will be stuck with this franchise that are looking to land that #1 overall pick and with it the next LeBron James: Andrew Wiggins.
The Sixers have two rookies on the team that were lottery picks this summer. They traded Jrue Holiday to the Pelicans for their first-round pick in 2014 and their sixth overall selection: Nerlens Noel. In addition to that, the Sixers used their pick to nab a new point guard in Michael Carter-Williams. Philadelphia also has a new head coach. Doug Collins called it quits this summer and the Sixers also tapped into the Spurs' staff, by naming Brett Brown their new head coach (the Hawks also hired a Spurs assistant as their new head coach: Mike Budenholzer).
Let's take a look at Brown's likely starting lineup in this one...
With Nerlens Noel rehabbing from ACL surgery, Spencer Hawes and Thaddeus Young are Philly's starting big men. James Anderson gets the nod at shooting guard with veteran Jason Richardson still looking to come back from his season-ending injury a year ago.
There's very little doubt that the Sixers are going to be terrible this season. That's the way they were built this offseason by their general manager. However, with two potential lottery picks in the upcoming loaded 2014 NBA Draft, the turnaround could be quick. Making teams like the Timberwolves (on a ten-year playoff drought), Kings and Bobcats look foolish.
Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young will be relied upon to provide a lot of the offense this season, however it remains to be seen how long they'll be around. There really doesn't seem to be an 'untouchable' player on this roster (however it's unlikely they'd move one of their two rookies). Everyone on this roster can be had for a price and they most appealing price for Philly would seemingly be draft picks and young, cheap, undervalued talent.
I'm predicting a big game from Kevin Martin in this one, as he's matched up against former bench warmer James Anderson. The best matchup of the night, however, will be Young and Kevin Love. Thaddeus is a very versatile forward who can do a little bit of everything. He's Philadelphia's best overall player and their highest paid player. He's someone I wouldn't trade unless I could net a big return. He'd be a nice piece as a starting small forward or power forward on this up and coming Philadelphia squad. One thing is for certain, the Sixers team that begins the year will look a lot different from the one that ends the year.
If the Wolves lose this one, it'll only be because Adelman played the starters limited minutes and wanted to get his second unit and deep reserve guys more playing time.
Oct. 24 @Detroit Pistons
The Timberwolves will end the 2013 Preseason vs. the Pistons at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Detroit, Michigan.
The Pistons are one team that made some big changes this offseason. They pulled off a sign-and-trade with the Milwaukee Bucks for Brandon Jennings. They also made a big splash in free agency when they signed one of the top available players: Josh Smith.
The Pistons, like the Wolves, could finally return to the playoffs after an extended drought. This is a team I'm looking forward to watch. They have a great starting lineup. I'm in the minority of people that think Josh Smith at small forward will be just fine. They have a lot of talent in their starting lineup, it's all going to be about putting it all together.
Brandon Jennings is out with wisdom tooth discomfort and Will Bynum is expected to get the start at point guard. Shooting guard Rodney Stuckey broke his thumb (slamming it in a car door) and he won't be available in this one, but the Pistons hope he'll be back before the start of the regular season. In his place second-year swingman Kyle Singler will start alongside Bynum in the backcourt.
I like the starting frontcourt with Monroe and Drummond down low. I'm especially excited to watch Drummond and Peković go at it in the paint. Drummond is definitely a physical specimen and he couples that with something that Pek lacks (athleticism). I hope Andre stays healthy this season, because I think he's going to be a pretty great player in this League.
The Pistons also have a new head coach. Gone is Lawrence Frank and in his stead comes former Oklahoma City Thunder assistant Maurice Cheeks.
With this being Minnesota's final preseason game, Adelman will only be playing his rotation guys and he isn't going to play anyone extended minutes and risk injury.
Adelman said that they won't cut anyone before Sunday's game vs. the Celtics in Montreal. However, it's likely they cut down the roster before Wednesday's game. That means guys like Lorenzo Brown, Robbie Hummel and Chris Johnson are the most likely candidates to make early exits. Also remember that Saunders has been looking at acquiring another wing player either via trade or free agency. Names like Josh Howard, Rip Hamilton and Evan Turner have been floated.
That's all for now, thanks for reading HOWL, enjoy this week's games and look for the recap following each contest. GO WOLVES!
The Timberwolves fell to .500 in preseason action after tonight's 97-104 loss to the Toronto Raptors. Both of Minnesota's preseason losses have come at the Target Center, on their home court.
The good news is that the Wolves will have a full week before they have to play again. Minnesota's next preseason game will be on Sunday (Oct. 20) vs. the Boston Celtics.
The Wolves got off to another slow start, making just one field goal in their first nine tries. It was a similar start that doomed the Wolves when they dropped their first preseason game to the CSKA Moscow and the same kind of slow start that nearly took down the Wolves in Sioux Falls vs. the Bucks.
The Wolves were without Kevin Martin for the second consecutive game as he continues to sit for "precautionary reasons" with a sore right achilles. Other players who didn't see action tonight included Chase Budinger (knee) and Chris Johnson, Robbie Hummel, Lorenzo Brown & Gogui Dieng (all DNP-Coach's Decision).
I worked a 14-hour shift on Saturday and was unable to see the game, so this will be more about what the box score tells us--than a quarter-by-quarter analysis or in-depth look.
It's clear that the Timberwolves need to find some cohesion among their starters. It doesn't help that Martin isn't playing and that was VERY evident in this one. Minnesota's starting backcourt of Ricky Rubio & Alexey Shved went 0-for-11 from the field, 0-for-2 from deep and 6-of-10 from the line. Not very efficient work from Minnesota's guards.
In 28 minutes of action, Kevin Love dropped 28 points, while also grabbing 11 rebounds, dishing 2 assists and registering 2 steals. If Minnesota wants to finally end their decade-long playoff drought, they'll need these kinds of performances from Kevin Love, nightly. In addition to that, others need to step up!
Kevin Love had a third of Minnesota's total rebounds and no other player on the team had half as many as he finished with. He's the NBA's best rebounder, but Love's partner in the post (Peković) needs to do more than just 2 boards.
It's hard to analyze a game like this because, first off I didn't watch it and secondly, because of that it's unclear what kind of rotations were used. Was Adelman going with the guys he'll look to during the season, or was this another game of trying to feel out who has the "chops" and the talent to contribute at the next level.
Minnesota forced 26 turnovers for 22 points, however the big difference in this one was efficiency. The Wolves finished just 28-of-77 from the field, 6-of-20 from deep and 35-of-50 from behind the free-throw line. That's 36.4%, 30% & 70%! The Raptors countered with 50%, 47.4% & 73.5%.
The Wolves also lost the rebounding battle (33-44) as well as the battle in the paint (36-38). The biggest difference beyond Minnesota losing the battle on the boards or their poor field goal percentage was free throws. Minnesota lost this game at the line. The Wolves shot 35-of-50, while the Raptors shot 25-of-34. That's 9 missed free throws for Toronto and 15 missed free throws for the Wolves. In a 7-point loss, leaving 15 points at the line hurts!
The Wolves have the week off, then they'll face the Celtics in Montreal on October 20th.
The Timberwolves had a slow start to this one as it mirrored their first preseason game vs. CSKA Moscow on Monday night. The Bucks were able to jump out to an early 12-0 lead before Pekovic hit a pair of free throws to end the run.
They finally picked things up and by the end of the first quarter, it was just a four-point game (25-29). Rick Adelman pulled the majority of his starters (namely Rubio & Love) early and got early looks at guys like Gorgui Dieng, Shabazz Muhammad and Othyus Jeffers. Jeffers was especially impressive first quarter as he went off for 6 points while also hitting the glass and playing lockdown perimeter defense.
Kevin Martin did NOT play tonight due to that sore achilles. In his place, Alexey Shved got the nod as the starting two-guard. Shved played pretty well, but throughout the game, he was especially effective when he was paired with J.J. Barea in the backcourt. That J.J.-Shved backcourt is something I really like, because it gives Shved the chance to be a bit more of a playmaker and it also gives the sparkplug J.J. a chance to be more of a shooting guard--and take some of the ball handling duties away from him.
Luke Ridnour got some run in the first quarter. He checked in with just over a minute to go in the first and it was very strange seeing him in a Bucks uniform (again) and seeing him matched up against J.J. Barea. Was a strange/cool moment.
In the second quarter, the Wolves picked it up a bit and outscored the Bucks 21-17 to knot it up at 46-all after two quarters. Robbie Hummel led the Wolves in scoring in the second quarter with 5 and John Henson led all scorers with 6. Henson had a very nice game, I was certainly impressed with him and was quite intrigued by the pairing of him and Sanders in the frontcourt. I don't know if those will be Larry Drew's starters to start the regular season (or if he'll go with Ersan Ilyasova at power forward--who was out for this one with an ankle sprain). A Henson-Sanders duo is athletically intriguing, but they give up a lot in the physicality 'category'. That was something that Pek made very clear tonight as he just pushed them around in the paint all night.
Ricky Rubio & Kevin Love didn't play after coming out midway through the first quarter. The only starter that played early in the second quarter was Nikola Pekovic, while Adelman continued to give some of the young guys, the rookies and those on un-guaranteed deals a longer look. In the second, Jeffers and Hummel (in particular) saw extended minutes. In addition to those young guys, Rick mixed in some of his veterans ie: Dante, Brewer, Pekovic & JJ.
After two quarters the Wolves were shooting just 39.5% from the field (17-43) and 14.3% from deep (1-7). The Wolves also had 10 turnovers in the first half, which is one less than they had total in both of their first two preseason games (11 apiece). The Bucks shot 51.4% from the field (19-37) and a lot of those buckets came on the fast break, with 14. The shot-blocking presence of Sanders & Henson was felt too, as the Bucks finished the first two quarters with 7 blocks.
The Timberwolves opened the third quarter with Barea, Shved, Brewer, Cunningham & Pekovic. The third quarter is when the Wolves got HOT from deep. They shot a perfect 6-of-6 from deep in that third quarter. After going just 1-of-7 from deep in the first half, they were 7-of-13 (53.8%) after three quarters.
Love & Rubio didn't get back on the floor in the third (or fourth), but we did see quite a bit of (the other three starters) Pekovic, Brewer & Shved.
After three, the Wolves held a four-point lead 75-71 as we went into the fourth quarter. It was clear that we wouldn't see too much of the starters in the final quarter. The same was for the Bucks as both head coaches were looking to get a good look at their deep rotation players.
Some things I saw that I really liked throughout this one...
1.) Shabazz driving to the rack and snagging rebounds on both ends.
2.) Dieng altering and blocking shots (some very emphatic returns), as well as some good rebounding.
3.) J.J. Barea as the sparkplug as well as that Barea-Shved backcourt duo.
4.) Othyus Jeffers' aggressiveness: layups/dunks, rebounds and perimeter D.
5.) Pek dominating weaker defenders in the paint.
6.) Minnesota's third quarter three-point shooting.
7.) The all-out play from the young players on the squad. In particular the two first-round rookies (Shabazz & Dieng) as well as Othyus Jeffers.
The Wolves rode their young guns down the stretch and they were a bit better than Milwaukee's as they were able to escape with a 99-89 win. The Wolves were led by Lorenzo Brown in the fourth, where he scored all six of his points, A.J. Price added 5 of his 10 and Gorgui Dieng, Othyus Jeffers and Robbie Hummel all added 4 apiece.
The Wolves now move to 2-1 in the preseason. Let's take a look at tonight's box score...
The Timberwolves shot just 39.5% from the field and 69.7% from the line. The Bucks shot well from the field (47.4%), but also struggled from the line. The Bucks struggled controlling the ball (24 turnovers) and committed almost twice as many fouls as the Wolves (with 33). It was fairly close with the rebounding numbers, however the Wolves did much better on the offensive boards. After the first half, the Wolves already had 11 of their 17 offensive boards (and those numbers would have been higher had Love & Pek played more).
All four blocks for the Wolves came from rookie Gorgui Dieng and 4 of Milwaukee's 7 blocks came from their rookie Giannis.
It was clear that Adelman rode his young guns down the stretch, Minnesota finished with 65 bench points. With those younger players getting more time, who didn't see as much time? Love & Rubio both played just 11 minutes, Shved played 17 and Chris Johnson, Derrick Wiliams and Ronny Turiaf all did not play (coach's decision). This is the third-straight game that Johnson hasn't played and the chances of him being on the opening day roster just shrunk considerably (after not playing in three-straight games).
That's all for now, the Wolves will be back in action on Saturday night when they take on the Raptors again, this time at the Target Center.
The Wolves are in Sioux Falls this evening for a bout with their neighbors in the Eastern Conference: the Milwaukee Bucks.
The biggest storyline heading into this game (from a Minnesota perspective) is facing former Timberwolves guard Luke Ridnour. Ridnour was shipped to Milwaukee this offseason in a three-team deal that netted the Wolves Kevin Martin.
During Luke's time in Minnesota he was a consummate professional and did anything asked of him, mainly playing off the ball as the team's starting shooting guard. That meant that night in and night out he was facing the likes of Kobe Bryant, James Harden, Manu Ginobili, Dwyane Wade and a number of other, much bigger and stronger shooting guards.
Ridnour is now back in Milwaukee where he played from 2008-2010, as a mentor for a young Brandon Jennings (who now plays in Detroit).
Ridnour is heading back to Milwaukee, but it's a completely different team from the one he was a part of just a few years ago. Gone is Scott Skiles, Brandon Jennings and Andrew Bogut. However, there is A LOT of NBA talent on this roster. I'm actually a pretty big fan of their starting lineup: Brandon Knight, O.J. Mayo, Caron Butler, Ersan Ilyasova and Larry Sanders (or LARRY SANDERS! as he's known on Twitter).
O.J. Mayo was third on my list of shooting guards I was hoping the Wolves would sign this summer. The first was Kevin Martin and the second was J.J. Redick. I think Martin is great now, but I worry about him being paid big money until he's 34-years-old.
Tonight is the second game of a back-to-back set for the Wolves so it will be interesting to see how much the starters play (after they all averaged 22-26 minutes last night) and if this will give some of the guys we haven't seen much of (or at all) increased playing time. Through two games, we have yet to see Chris Johnson take the floor. We've also only seen 6 minutes apiece from both Shabazz Muhammad and Robbie Hummel (all in the first game), Gorgui Dieng has played 12 minutes (all last night), Lorenzo Brown has played 17 minutes (all last night), A.J. Price has played 19 minutes (all in the first game) and Othyus Jeffers has played a combined 24 minutes (20 in the first game and another 4 last night). Both J.J. Barea & Dante Cunningham played 22 minutes last night after missing the first game, I'd expect them to see about the same tonight.
The last big note is the status of shooting guard Kevin Martin. Martin played only 6 minutes last night before returning to the bench, where he'd stay for the remainder of the night. We found out late in the second half that he had a sore achilles tendon and was sitting out as a "precautionary" measure, stating after the game, that he simply wants to be 100% healthy to begin the regular season.
If Martin is unable (or decides not) to play, expect Alexey Shved to get the start at shooting guard and (hopefully) we'll see more minutes for rookies Shabazz Muhammad & Robbie Hummel.
That's all for now, this one will tip at 7pmCT, Enjoy the game!
The Timberwolves got their first "NBA test" this evening when they took down the Raptors on their home court in Toronto.
The Wolves fell to CSKA Moscow on Monday night, but they bounced back tonight with a good win over a pretty good Eastern Conference team.
The Timberwolves took an early lead through the first quarter (28-22), thanks in large part to their play from Kevin Love (7pts) & Nikola Peković (9pts). Kevin Martin only played the first six minutes in this one, but then sat for the remainder of the night. We found out late in the second half that Martin had a sore achilles tendon and him sitting, was simply "precautionary".
That meant more time for Alexey Shved. Shved played 21 minutes tonight and finished with 10pts, 3reb, 4ast, 1stl & 1blk. It didn't (surprisingly) mean more time for Shabazz Muhammad, as he didn't see the court at all.
The Wolves were outscored 27-37 in the second quarter as the Raps took a 55-59 lead into halftime. At the half, DeRozan already had 13 of his 17 points and Gay added 9 of his total 11. Also big during the Raptor run was three-straight made threes from newcomer Steve Novak (Novak scored all nine of his points in that second quarter).
Both teams were doing quite well offensively through the first half. Both squads were over 50% from the field and the Raptors were shooting 62.5% from deep (5-of-8). Both teams buckled down defensively in the second half. Adelman said after the game that he loved the defensive effort from the Wolves in the final two quarters.
I watched all of the first half, but after that my internet wasn't working right and I only caught bits and pieces of the second half. However, what I did see was better defense from both squads and unlike in the first quarter, the Wolves were rotating better and staying in front of their man. In the first quarter, a lot of Toronto's offensive possessions ended in the Wolves committing blocking fouls on drives to the lane.
We got a chance to see Gorgui Dieng and Lorenzo Brown in this game, a game after they both didn't play at all. Other players who didn't see the court tonight: Chase Budinger (knee), Shabazz Muhammad (coach's decision), Robbie Hummel (coach's decision), A.J. Price (coach's decision) and Chris Johnson (coach's decision). Johnson didn't play at all on Monday either, but with the Wolves playing tomorrow night in Sioux Falls vs. the Bucks, it's likely that he plays then.
Let's take a look at some of tonight's top performers...
Minnesota's "Big Three" put together some great performances and did so in limited playing time. It definitely makes you optimistic when you see these guys playing well. Ricky Rubio was especially fun to watch as we finally got a chance to see him show of his jumper. He hit a few 15-17 footers as the defense sagged off him and didn't respect him. He also (especially in the first half) had a number of VERY good pump fakes. It brought me back to last season when Andrei Kirilenko would make his defender look absolutely silly with his pump fake. Perhaps Rubio had AK give him a couple of pointers before he left town.
I was a bit surprised that Love & Peković had such an easy time working in the paint in that first quarter, mainly because Toronto's new assistant coach is Minnesota's old assistant coach (Bill Bayno). With Bayno working A LOT with Peković the past few seasons, I thought he would have a few more pointers to give Valanciunas on stopping Pek, but Nikola went off for 9 points in the first quarter and just bullied Toronto's bigs (Johnson, Hansbrough & Valanciunas).
Toronto's wings (DeRozan & Gay) had things come a little to easy for them in this one. Corey Brewer did a good job on Gay when they were on the floor together, but when Williams entered this the game and had to check Rudy, it was ugly. There were a handful of possessions that Williams showed a glimmer, that perhaps he could be an effective defensive small forward, but on the whole, it was more bad than good. Martin did okay defensively during the few minutes he was on the floor, but he certainly was a lockdown defender and Alexey Shved came in and continued the struggle. Perimeter defense is something that Minnesota's wing players need a lot of work on.
The Wolves continued to take good care of the ball. For the second game in a row they turned it over only 11 times. The Wolves picked up their three-point shooting in the second half (thanks in large part to their second-string backcourt of Barea & Shved). At halftime the Raptors were shooting 52.6% from the field (20-of-38). In the second half they shot just 32.4% (12-of-37). The Timberwolves didn't find as many easy shots in the second half either, but it was holding Toronto to such a low percentage that sealed the W in this one.
Adelman said after the game that he was VERY impressed with rookies Lorenzo Brown and Gorgui Dieng. He said after Monday's game that he was quite impressed with Robbie Hummel and A.J. Price. As far as the battle for the 15th spot goes, it's still very much up in the air. With Johnson not seeing the court at all through these first two contests, the likelihood of him being on the roster come opening day is getting slimmer and slimmer.
The Wolves are back tomorrow night vs. the Buck in Sioux Falls. That one tips at 7pmCT!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!