The Minnesota Timberwolves are hoping to end this nasty losing streak before the end of the season. With only five games remaining, it'll be no easy task. There last five games will come against Indiana (3rd seed in East), Memphis (5th seed in West), Detroit (22-38), Golden State (22-37) and finally Denver (7th seed in West). Obviously the best chance at a W, would be either vs. the Pistons or the Warriors.
Nonetheless, there's no doubt that the TWolves remain competitive, regardless of what their record says or the bodies piling up on the injury report.
With Minnesota out of the playoffs, the Pacers are looking at this game as a GREAT chance to further lock up their 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference and secure home court advantage for the first round of the playoffs, if they do, they'll have home court advantage in the playoffs for the first time since 2004.
Indiana has been on a bit of a hot streak, they've won their last 4 games and have gone 8-2 in their last 10. They also have a season record of 38-22 as well as 20-8 at home. The TWolves have been struggling mightily to win games, dropping their last 9 straight games. They're 25-36 on the year, 12-19 on the road and have gone 1-9 in their last 10 games.
Kevin Love (concussion), Luke Ridnour (ankle) and Darko Milicic (supposed hamstring) all did not travel with the team to Indiana yesterday. Love will miss his third straight game with a mild concussion and neck sprain, after taking an inadvertent elbow to the temple from Nuggets center JaVale McGee. Ridnour will miss his 7th straight game since going down with an ankle sprain vs. the Kings. And Darko Milicic will miss his 15 straight game and his 19th of 20 games with what the TWolves are listing as a hamstring injury...supposedly. Wayne Ellington has missed the past three games with back spasms, but he's expected to be able to play.
"We need some other players to step up," center Nikola Pekovic said. There's no doubt in Ridnour's & Love's absence, the TWolves have got solid play from J.J. Barea, Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph.
"We're just out there trying to be scrappy," Beasley said. "Kevin might not be here for the rest of the season. That's 26 points, sometimes 40 points and 20 boards. Everybody has to step up and we're trying to finish this season with a bang."
Darren Collison is currently out for the Pacers. He's missed the last four games with a strained groin and is questionable for tonight's game.
In the last meeting (the only other this season), on Feb. 1st the TWolves lost 109-99. Minnesota will be seeking just the 5th win in 22 visits to Indiana.
Danny Granger has been on a tear in April and is averaging 22.8ppg and over the past three meetings in Indiana, he's averaging 26.3ppg vs. Minnesota.
Indiana's last game was a 105-99 win over the Milwaukee Bucks. Roy Hibbert had 23pts & 14reb, Granger added 21pts & 7reb, Hill had 13pts and George, West, Hansbrough & Barbosa each added 10pts apiece. The Pacers were unable to hit a field goal in the final four minutes of the game, but they hit free throws, pounded the glass and got stops on D to grab the W.
Let's get a look at each team's last five games...
Indiana ranks 16th in the NBA in points per game with 97.0. They're the 6th-best NBA rebounding team at 43.5 a game. They boast the 9th-best defense in the NBA, as well, allowing 94.0 a game. They're the worst team in assists, dead-last in the NBA (30th) at 18.3 a game.
Let's get a look at tonight's probable starting lineups...
J.J. Barea vs. George Hill (9.3ppg, 3.0rpg, 2.6apg)
Martell Webster vs. Paul George (11.8ppg, 5.5rpg, 1.6spg)
Wesley Johnson vs. Danny Granger (18.7ppg, 4.8rpg, 1.1spg)
Derrick Williams vs. David West (12.0ppg, 6.4rpg, 0.8spg)
Nikola Pekovic vs. Roy Hibbert (13.0ppg, 8.9rpg, 2.0bpg)
If Darren Collison (10.8ppg, 4.9apg, 0.9spg) is able to play, I'd expect him to be back in the staring lineup.
Tipoff is set for 6pmCT time tonight from the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indiana, enjoy the game!
That's all for now, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!