UPDATE (11/11 @7:40pmCT): The Minnesota Timberwolves Public Relations account has announced that Chase Budinger has suffered a lateral meniscus tear that will require surgery. Also adding that guard J.J. Barea (mid-foot sprain) will not join the team in Dallas for tomorrow's game. If Roy doesn't play, the Timberwolves will have just ten healthy players. Expect Shved & Cunningham to see some time at small forward. Stay tuned for another update on Brandon Roy.
The Timberwolves are having more success early this season (when compared to 2011-12), however one thing has managed to remain consistent. The Timberwolves players can't seem to stay healthy.
Minnesota is without Kevin Love (broken hand) and Ricky Rubio (rehabbing from reconstructive knee surgery). Neither have played yet in the 2012-13 season. J.J. Barea has missed the past two games with a mid-foot sprain he suffered in the win over the Orlando Magic last week. He'll be reevaluated and could play in this one. Brandon Roy missed the second half of the win over the Pacers on Friday as well as the loss in Chicago on Saturday due to a sore right knee. He's questionable for Monday's game. And now, Chase Budinger. Bud was shoved to the floor midway through the fourth quarter (by Marco Belinelli) in that loss to the Bulls. He twisted his knee as he went down, Chase had X-rays and everything came back negative, he's scheduled to have an MRI sometime on Sunday in Dallas. If it's just a sprained knee he could be a out a week or two, if it's a torn ACL or MCL...Chase'll be done for the season. We'll provide an update with the status' of Brandon Roy, J.J. Barea and Chase Budinger before Monday night's game.
The Dallas Mavericks have had some trouble keeping their stars healthy, early this season, too. The Mavs are currently without their starting forwards: Shawn Marion and Dirk Nowitzki. Marion is out with a sprained MCL, no word on his timetable to return. Dirk is also out while he continues to rehab from his arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. Like Kevin Love, Dirk should return sometime early-mid December.
Despite all these injuries, for both of these Western Conference squads, the Timberwolves are 4-2 on the year and 1-2 on the road (with a win over Brooklyn and the losses vs. Toronto & Chicago). The Dallas Mavericks are 4-3 this season and remain undefeated at home, 3-0.
Both teams are coming off Saturday night losses on the road...
The Minnesota Timberwolves lost one in Chicago, 80-87. It was a back-and-forth affair all night long, however the Bulls' physical play and swarming defense in the second half--along with a barrage of threes via Marco Belinelli in the fourth quarter. Pek finished with 18pts, 8reb; Dante added 14pts, 4reb, 1ast,1 blk off the bench and Andrei Kirilenko continues his stellar all-around play, he'd finish with 11pts, 12reb, 7ast, 2stls, 1blk in a season-high 42 minutes.
The Dallas Mavericks are coming off an overtime loss at the hands of the Charlotte Bobcats, 97-101. The Bobcats snapped a sixteen game losing streak to the Mavericks with that win on Saturday. The Mavs were up by seven in the fourth quarter, but an 8-0 run (thanks in large part to Ramon Sessions) by the Bobcats gave Charlotte the one-point lead with 2:30 to play. With just 26.6 to play (in the fourth) the Mavs were up by four. Brendan Haywood would throw down a dunk on his former team and get fouled, Haywood missed the free throw, but rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist grabbed the offensive rebound and Ramon Sessions drove in for an easy bucket and tied it at 91 with 2.8 seconds to play. Vince Carter would miss a three at the buzzer, sending the game to overtime. The Bobcats outscored the Mavericks 10-6 in overtime, for the W. O.J. Mayo finished with 22pts, 1reb, 2ast, 1stl; Vince Carter came off the bench and had 19pts, 5reb, 2ast, 3stls, 1blk and cashed in 5-of-8 from deep and Darren Collison contributed 14pts, 3reb and 6 ast.
The Minnesota Timberwolves were able to best the Dallas Mavericks in 2011-12. The Wolves won two of the three meetings. A 99-82 win on January 1st in Minnesota (Kevin Love had 25pts, 17reb in that one), another 105-90 win on January 25th in Dallas (Love had 31pts, 11reb in that one) and finally that 97-104 loss on February 10th in Minnesota (Nowtizki scored 33pts in that one). The bad news for both teams? They're without their superstars that led to those wins.
The Minnesota Timberwolves currently have the 5th best defense in the NBA, allowing just 89.5 a game. However, they'll have their work cut out for them as they go up against the 2nd-best offense in the NBA, as the Mavericks are averaging 104.7 points a game. Alternatively, the Timberwolves have one of the lower-scoring offenses in the NBA (23rd in the NBA) averaging 91.8 a game, while the Mavericks have one of the weaker defenses (25th overall) allowing 100.4 points a night. We'll see if it'll be a defensive stopping night by Minnesota or a high-scoring affair for Dallas.
Let's take a look at the projected starting lineups for each squad...
Ridnour (10.5ppg, 3.2rpg, 3apg, 1.5spg)
Roy (5.8ppg, 2.8rpg, 4.6apg)
Shved (7.2ppg, 3.2rpg, 4apg)
AK (11.2ppg, 7.7rpg, 4.2apg, 1.7spg, 2bpg)
Williams (9.3ppg, 5rpg, 0.3spg)
Pekovic (14.5ppg, 6rpg, 1.2bpg)
Collison (14.1ppg, 2.6rpg, 7.1apg, 1.1spg)
Mayo (21.9ppg, 3.7rpg, 3apg)
Crowder (7.7ppg, 2.7rpg, 1apg)
Brand (6.8ppg, 6.2rpg, 1.3spg, 1.3bpg)
Wright (11.4ppg, 5.3rpg, 1apg, 1.3bpg)
Kaman (14.8ppg, 6.2rpg, 1.6apg)
I guarantee that Andrei Kirilenko will be matched up with O.J. Mayo tonight, especially with the Mavs starting rookie Jae Crowder (somebody a guy like Roy or Shved would be able to guard). As far as the center matchup, Brandan Wright has been starting at center along with Elton Brand in that frontcourt, however I wouldn't be surprised if Rick Carlisle decides to start the big man Chris Kaman in this one--to match up with Nikola Pekovic. I certainly hope he keeps Wright in to match up with Pek, but I highly doubt that.
For the TWolves to grab their 5th win this season, a few things need to happen...
- Contain the Mavs' starting frontcourt, you can't allow Darren or O.J. to get close to those 14.1 & 21.9 points per game averages if you want to win. AK47 and Ridnour will have their hands full with these young guns.
- Minnesota has the advantage in the paint. Nikola Pekovic needs to continue to roll and take it to Brandan Wright, Elton Brand, Chris Kaman, Troy Murphy...whoever they throw at him (likely Kaman).
- Continue to move the ball and play unselfish basketball. The Wolves have plenty of scorers on this roster and they need to continue to 'share the sugar'. Hopefully J.J. Barea will be able to return and take it to his former team.