UPDATE: As noted below, both Ricky Rubio & J.J. Barea are nursing some minor injuries. It appears as though they didn't travel with the team Tuesday night and won't be playing in the presesaon finale tomorrow in Milwaukee. They aren't serious injuries and it seems its merely a precaution to be sure they're ready for the Wolves' first regular season game: Dec. 26th vs. Oklahoma City Thunder. Neither player has practiced with the team the past two days.
The Timberwolves will be travelling to Milwaukee on Wednesday to face the Bucks in the second preseason game of two this offseason, before the Wolves officially, kick off their season vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder on Dec. 26th. The Wolves' first preseason game came on Saturday night at the Target Center, where the young T-Pups were able to hand a loss to one of their 'rivals". Granted, it's only a preseason game, but a 117-96 win over a solid team like Milwaukee (that may very well be contending for a playoff seed in the East), is impressive--even if it doesn't "mean anything".
Of course, watching Saturday's game there are still a lot of questions left to be answered for this year's Wolves. However, after just eight days of practice, the way they played was certainly impressive. The Bucks of course, were without Stephen Jackson (who, will likely be their leading scorer this season), I finally found out why as well! It appears there is some sort of problem with his contract, it appears he wants an extension from the Bucks, that they're a little hesitant to give the 33-year-old an extension. His current contract is for 2-years and a total just under $20M. Ultimately, I won't say he won't be playing on Wednesday, however for now, I'm assuming he isn't. As such, Mike Dunleavy will likely again take his place in the starting lineup (may not be a terrible thing), but we'll talk about that later.
Before we take a look at the projected starters for the game, let me just say, that there's almost a 100% chance that I'll be wrong, I mean come on, I thought Nikola Pekovic & Ricky Rubio would be starting. Nikola played just four minutes the whole game! What I put up here really doesn't matter, because it's merely a preseason game & head coach Rick Adelman is still looking at starting lineups. He did say last week, that he wasn't completely sure the Wolves would have a set starting lineup for the season, so it could change every day, we'll just have to wait and see. Also, Adelman has said following practice on Monday that Anthony Randolph & Nikola Pekovic (who both played four minutes in Saturday's game) would get more time in Wednesday's game.
Projected Starting Lineups
INJURIES for MIN
The Timberwolves currently have Martell Webster on the injured reserve. Webster is recovering from surgery on his back for a herniated disc. The surgery was in late-September and he's currently listed as: out indefinitely. Guards Ricky Rubio & J.J. Barea sat out practice on Monday. Rubio is nursing a sprained ankle, that he suffered in Saturday's game. Barea is nursing a thigh injury. Both guards may or may not play on Wednesday, both are minor injuries, but I think we'll see them Wednesday.
KEY PLAYERS for MIN
-Kevin Love: Obviously still the Wolves' best player. He knocked down threes and pulled down rebounds in Saturday's game. While he was on the court he looked slightly more mobile and more active on defense.
-Michael Beasley: Beasley looked good in Saturday's game, but as always he takes a lot of shots, but doesn't score a lot of points. If he's knocking down shots he's a huge asset for Minnesota, like most players, his D is less than stellar.
-Derrick Williams: Fortunately for Michael Beasley, Derrick Williams is struggling to defend small forwards. He looked good in his debut with 14 points. He's athletic & versatile, hopefully he'll work on becoming quicker and more mobile on both ends of the floor.
-Ricky Rubio: Ricky looked good in his debut. In just under 25 minutes he had 6pts, 6rebs & 7ast. He could've had double-digits in assists had his teammates converted a few more attempts. Imagine what his numbers could look like with starter minutes...
KEY PLAYERS for MIL
-Brandon Jennings: Jennings didn't have a very good game, but he's definitely one of the Bucks' top players. Jennings needs to be better on the offensive end on a nightly basis if the Bucks want to win.
-Andrew Bogut: Scott Skiles said after the game Saturday that he tried to get Bogut involved in the offense, however that was clearly wasn't successful. He's a good defender, but the Bucks need him to be more of a scorer. Look for him to get going early.
-Stephen Jackson or Mike Dunleavy: Whoever starts will be a key player for the Bucks. Even if S-Jax starts and Dunleavy comes off the bench, they're both key cogs in the Bucks' offense. Dunleavy was the certainly the best player for the Bucks on Saturday (see gameday recap from Dec. 17th). I hope to see Stephen Jackson on Wednesday, see how well the TWolves can defend a top-5 shooting guard in the NBA.
PROJECTED FINAL OUTCOME
That's all for now, tip-off is set for 7pmCT from the Bradley Center in Milwaukee Wisconsin. A full-gameday recap can be found on this site following the final horn. Thanks for reading and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!