The Minnesota Timberwolves last played on Tuesday night versus the Milwaukee Bucks. Playing at the Bradley Center, the Wolves looked awful on both ends of the floor while they racked up 25 turnovers on the night! The result was a 95-98 loss. You can find a full gameday recap of that game under the Gameday section of this blog, in a prior post.
The Timberwolves have now started this new season 0-2, also falling to the Thunder on Monday. The game against Oklahoma City was much more impressive. They lost by just four points, but matched up well with the Thunder--staying in it till the end--with a chance to win it in the final minutes (a full gameday recap of that game can also be found in the Gameday section on this site).
After going an undefeated 2-0 in the preseason (vs. Milwaukee), the Timberwolves have started the regular season 0-2 and this next game will be against a contender that could easily waltz into the Target Center and embarrass Minnesota. Alternatively, the Heat could underestimate the Wolves and get caught off guard for their first loss of the season. Either way, I'm excited and will be watching, this one!
The Timberwolves will be facing a Miami Heat team that is 3-0 on the season--which includes to tough road wins that came back-to-back. The first versus the Celtics and the second: a win vs. the Bobcats in which the Bobcats had the lead with just a few seconds to go. Gerald Henderson hit a three with 12 seconds remaining to put the 'Cats up by one. With 2.9 on the clock, Dwayne Wade hit a bank-shot jumper over Gerald Henderson that lifted the Heat to a 96-95 victory. D.J. Augustin's three-point shot off the inbounds didn't fall and D.J. White's putback at the buzzer rolled out, sealing a Heat victory and keeping them undefeated.
Let's compare the stat leaders for these two teams (even though the Wolves have played two games--and Miami has played three)...
Kevin Love has carried the Wolves in their first two games. His consistency is what sets him apart from the Wolves' other top scorer: Michael Beasley. If Beasley could consistently score 20ppg, the Wolves would have one at least one game thus far. As per usual, Love is dominating on the boards. As of Dec. 28th (before that nights game) Kevin Love is leading the NBA (once again) in rebounds per game. Ricky Rubio is leading the Wolves in both steals and assists--with more minutes a game or even starter minutes, those numbers would increase--no doubt. Surprisingly, the Wolves' Darko Milicic isn't leading the team in blocks per game. Often times last season--he'd have games of two or three blocks a game. His minutes have been reduced, but he has yet to register a single block this season!
LeBron James is playing very well this season. Averaging 32.7ppg. The Timberwolves allowed Kevin Durant to go off for 33pts in their first game. I'd consider Durant a superior scorer, however, I don't doubt LeBron will have a big game versus the likes of Michael Beasley, Wesley Johnson & Derrick Williams! I wouldn't worry about the Timberwolves getting beaten on the boards. With Love, Beasley, Williams, Tolliver, Milicic & Johnson crashing the glass, the likes of James, Wade, Bosh, Anthony & Haslem aren't too worrisome.
Let's take a look at the projected starting lineups for the game...
I don't see the Wolves changing their starting lineup yet. Ricky Rubio won't be TWolves' starting point guard--just yet. Much like Minnesota, Miami may be looking at a point guard change very soon--as well. Norris Cole has performed very well for the Heat thus far this season. Like Rubio & Ridnour, Cole is challenging Chalmers for that starting gig. The biggest challenge for the Wolves will be defending LeBron & Wade. Johnson will likely see a lot of time against Wade, while Beasley will do his best to challenge James. Expect Wade & James (much like Westbrook & Durant on Monday vs. OKC) to have very 'big' games!
The Timberwolves are expected to be without backup center Nikola Pekovic once again. He suffered a groin injury on Dec. 21st--a preseason game vs. Milwaukee. He practiced on Thursday, but Adelman says he won't be ready for the game on Friday. J.J. Barea could potentially miss the game as well as he suffered a hamstring injury during the Dec. 27th game vs. Milwaukee. He's listed as day-to-day, according to Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune: Barea's hamstring is strained and not torn and he's questionable for the game. Lastly, Malcolm Lee has been out as well with a knee injury. He's having it looked at again by doctors early on Friday. He had surgery in March to repair his MCL, but it's unsure if it's related. He's doubtful for the game.
On a sidenote, I looked into tickets for the game. For $160 you can get lower level tickets that are usually $35-$45 vs. teams like Indiana, Charlotte & Portland. I won't be going, but there will likely be a nice crowd at the Target Center. According to the Timberwolves' Twitter page, there are roughly 1500 tickets remaining!
PROJECTED FINAL OUTCOME: Timberwolves 88, Heat 99
--I think the Timberwolves will be more disciplined--controlling the basketball and limiting turnovers. Rick Adelman will be back and will actually make adjustments when things aren't working on the court (like Terry Porter didn't when he filled in). More ball control, but I still feel the Wolves offense will struggle against Miami's D, and with LeBron & Wade running the break, the TWolves will get hammered in fast break points!
That's all for now, tipoff is set for 7pmCT (Friday) at the Target Center. You can find a full gameday recap for the game, on this site, following the final horn. Thanks for reading and, as always, GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!