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!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!