It's finally here! The 2012-13 NBA season opener for the Minnesota Timberwolves has come. The Wolves begin a season filled with A LOT of hope and promise, despite the injuries to Kevin Love & Ricky Rubio.
It all begins on Friday night vs. the Sacramento Kings at the Target Center.
Many have Minnesota winning anywhere from 43-56 games. My guess: 47 (mark it down). 47-35.
While that would (likely) put Minnesota into the playoffs, their season-opening opponent: the Kings, will likely be on the other end of the Conference.
That being said, these Kings do show promise.
I watched a few quarters of the Kings season-opener vs. the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night, resulting in a 93-87 Sacramento loss. With just 41.2 seconds to play Tyreke Evans got a bucket to cut the lead to 86-83. The Kings then intentionally fouled Luol Deng who could only hit 1 of 2 free-throws. However, the Kings couldn't get the ball in-bounds following the free-throws, resulting in a five-second violation. Bulls ball, they get it in-bounds to Richard Hamilton, Kings intentionally foul him, Rip hits both free-throws to make it 89-83 and Chicago hung on from there.
The Kings certainly had their opportunities, but they buried themselves with all their turnovers. By game's end Sacramento turned the ball over 21 times, leading to 25 Chicago points.
Both the Timberwolves and the Kings have fallen on 'tough times' these past six-seven years. The Kings have endured six-straight losing seasons and have fallen far from the heyday of Bibby, Peja, Webber & Divac. The TWolves are even worse off, no having a winning season in the past seven years! The last time the Wolves finished above .500? 44-38 in 2004-05. With this TWolves squad, they have a VERY good chance of snapping that streak. For the Kings--they're certainly talented, but I'd give them another season or two.
In the loss to the Bulls, Tyreke Evans finished with 21pts, 8reb, 3ast, 1blk, 8-13 FG in 39 min. DeMarcus Cousins added 14pts, 7reb, 1ast, 3stls, 2blks, 7-14 FG in 25 min. (but also adding 7tos & 4fls). And Marcus Thornton finished with 15pts, 4reb, 2ast, 1stl, 5-15 FG in 32 minutes off the bench.
Let's take a look at the projected starting lineups for each team...
The statistics listed are the preseason stats for each squad. Luke Ridnour, Brandon Roy and Nikola Pekovic have missed a game or two in the preseason or missed a practice leading up to this season opener, however Adelman says they'll all be able to go.
That Kings lineup is what they used vs. the Bulls in their season-opener vs. the Bulls. In that game, the Kings went with a 10-man rotation. Here it is broken down by minutes: 1.) Tyreke Evans (39); 2.) Marcus Thornton (32); 3.) Jason Thompson (28); T-4.) DeMarcus Cousins & Isaiah Thomas (25); 6.) Aaron Brooks (23); 7.) Thomas Robinson (22); 8.) James Johnson (21); 9.) Chuck Hayes (18); 10.) Francisco Garcia (8).
DeMarcus Cousins will be a superstar in this League someday, IF he can figure out how to stay on the floor for more than 25-30 minutes a night (how to play without fouling). I watched the Bulls loss on Wednesday as well as two of the Kings' preseason games (both vs. the Lakers) and he has a VERY interesting skillset. A 6'11" big man that can play passing lanes better than any center in the League. He also needs to learn how to play against certain opponents: if he's facing a smaller big in the post, he needs to use his body and back down the opponent for an easy bucket; if he's facing someone like Nikola Pekovic, he should probably look for more perimeter shots.
DeMarcus Cousins vs. Nikola Pekovic will certainly be my matchup of the night! Adelman said on Thursday after practice, when asked if he likes the Pek-DMC matchup: "I like the way Pek matches up against anybody." I can't wait to see these two brutes battle in the paint!
I've got the TWolves in this one: 97-89.
That's all for now, tipoff for this one is set for 7pmCT, Friday night at the Target Center, there will be a full gameday recap on this site following the final horn (as well as player/career highs & stat leaders). Until then, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!