Before I moved forward with the preview, I'd like to point out (if you haven't noticed already) that we've changed the name of this site. We're now known as HOWL! Previously dubbed WeeblyWolves, it just didn't make sense to anyone (or me). Hope you enjoy the new name, but our same coverage all year round!
Wednesday night, the Minnesota Timberwolves will be hosting the Detroit Pistons, in their 14th game this season, the NBA season is almost a fifth of the way over. At this point, the Wolves stand at 5-8 on the year. As of today (1/17), the Wolves are 5th in the Northwest Division and 11th in the Western Conference.
The Detroit Pistons are currently 3-11 on the year and their new coach (Lawrence Frank) doesn't seem to be getting through to his new team. In their previous game, the Pistons lost by eight points to the Golden State Warriors; 99-91. Greg Monroe had a great game as there was simply no one who could match up with him in the post. Nikola Pekovic & Darko Milicic will have their hands full with Monroe who's actually playing much better under Frank. Detroit has looked for Monroe to be more of a scorer in the post. Opposed to last season where Kuester only asked him to defend and grab rebounds.
The TWolves are coming off a 99-86 win over the Sacramento Kings on Monday. A full gameday recap of that one can be found in the previous post of this section. However, it was Kevin Love (33pts, 11rebs) and Luke Ridnour (25pts, 9ast) leading the way for a Minnesota victory. I've been extremely impressed with Luke Ridnour. I don't know why or how he's playing so well lately, but it's just a lot of fun to watch. I think after retaining the starting job all last season, he doesn't want to be just a veteran backup and mentor and he's proving it with incredible scoring outbursts on surprising efficiency (leading MIN in FG% with 52%). Having Luke move to the two-guard in the starting lineup also helps him as he's being set up beautifully by the Wolves' rookie phenom Ricky Rubio.
The Pistons have changed their starting lineups a few times this season. In that game vs. Golden State they started rookie point guard Brandon Knight, sharpshooter Ben Gordon, lengthy veteran defender Tayshaun Prince, versatile big man Jonas Jerebko & improved big man Greg Monroe. They've decided to move Gordon from the sixth man spot to the starting lineup and have moved Rodney Stuckey to the bench as their new sixth man. That's a pretty solid sixth man (he played 27min. vs. GSW and had 14pts, 6ast).
For Minnesota, they'll be getting reserve guard J.J. Barea back into the rotation as he hasn't played since the Chicago game (where he sprained his ankle) that'll be great for the Wolves, especially since their two healthy point guards these past few games are both starting (which means a lot of minutes and two tired bodies). Michael Beasley & Malcolm Lee are still out and didn't practice yesterday. Martell Webster & Brad Miller did participate in practice, but neither will play today.
For Detroit, Charlie Villanueva won't be playing as he's day-to-day with an ankle injury and didn't make the trip. Willy Bynum missed the game vs. Houston, with an ankle injury as well, but I haven't heard anything on him, so I'm not positive if he'll be playing. Damien Wilkins also missed the Houston game for a 'family matter'. Like Bynum, I'm unsure if he'll be playing tonight.
It appears the Wolves will have just 11 healthy players tonight (up one from the past two games). The biggest concern for me is the reserve big men stepping up. These past few games, Anthony Tolliver & Anthony Randolph haven't been playing very well (at least on the offensive end). When the Wolves have just 10-11 healthy players, they're going to need output and scoring from the guys they've depended on less in the past. 2-4 point games from the "Anthonys" isn't enough. Big man Darko Milicic is playing less, but his defense seems to be picking up a bit as of late--he had 3 blocks in limited minutes vs. Sacramento and is leading Minnesota with 0.9bpg. Nikola Pekovic has also been a good punch off the bench, now that Adelman is giving him some minutes. Coach says Pek will get plenty of minutes vs. teams who have a big presence in the paint as he thought he did a really good job vs. Sacramento and their bruiser: DeMarcus Cousins.
The matchup I'm most looking forward to is the battle at the point. Two rookie point guards, with very different approaches to the game and their position. This will be the third time I've watched Brandon Knight play. In the two games I watched, I only caught a quarter or so of both games, so it'll be fun to see how Knight fits into this Detroit team in a full 48.
That's all I've got for now. Thanks for reading, I'll be updating the injuries page shortly as well as adding some quotes from the past few days to our Quotes section so look for both of those within the next few hours. Lastly, this is the first post under our new name: HOWL! Hope you enjoy the new name and our continued coverage of your Minnesota Timberwolves. GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!