In the last matchup vs. these two teams, the Spurs were without their best player: Manu Ginobli. Now, Minnesota has lost one of their best players--Ricky Rubio. Since that last win over the Spurs for Minnesota, the Spurs have gone 17-6 and moved to 2nd place in the Western Conference standings.
Minnesota is currently 23-24 on the year, 11-12 on the road and 5-5 in their last ten games. The Spurs are 29-14 on the year, 17-4 at home and 6-4 in their last ten games. Clearly San Antonio's 'struggles' come on the road. Minnesota's records (overall, road, home) are right around .500, so by simply records alone, Minnesota would have a 50% chance of winning this one. I would say vs. the Spurs on their home court and how solid they've been the past month--that's really not the case.
San Antonio's last game came against the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday (3/17). Despite 17pts from starters Tim Duncan & Danny Green as well as 15 from Tiago Splitter & 13pts & 11ast from Tony Parker, Dirk Nowitzki went to work and propelled his Mavericks with 27pts for a big W. Spurs dropped that one 99-106.
A loss for the Spurs tonight would be the first time since the end of January that they've lost two-straight games. The end of January they lost two in a row vs. the.......TWolves & Mavericks! Interesting enough!
Minnesota is trying to win three in a row over the Spurs for the first time since the 1996-97 when Minnesota swept the season series.
Let's take a look at who'll be available for each team tonight....
-Nikola Pekovic (sore ankles): Pekovic will not be playing tonight vs. the Spurs. He flew back to the Twin Cities to get treatment on his ankles. He'll miss tonight's game as well as Friday's vs. the Thunder.
-Michael Beasley (sprained big toe): Despite re-aggravating that toe sprain, basically every game out, Beas will still play tonight.
-Matt Bonner (back spasms): Bonner will not play tonight due to back spasms. That's one less big body for San Antonio and one great three-point shooter Minnesota won't have to worry/deal with.
-Kevin Love: Mr. Love is a fixture on this list. There's no doubting his talents, his numbers are other-worldly and perhaps even more insane: routine! TWolves have won 6 of last 7 games when Love reaches 30+ point mark.
-Luke Ridnour: Luke's playmaking and shot-making have become very important for a Rubio-less TWolves team. A double-double in points & assists for Luke is HUGE for Minnesota.
-Tony Parker: The youngest of their "Big Three" has carried the Spurs this season. When Manu went down Tony stepped up. When Tim has an off-night Parker stepped up.
-Manu Ginobli: Manu is probably their best overall player (when healthy). In my opinion he's a top 3 shooting guard in this League (behind Kobe & D-Wade). Solid on both ends, I'm not sure if he'll be starting or coming off the bench, tonight--either way, though--he's dangerous!
Kevin Love vs. Tim Duncan: I realize Kevin Love won't be matched up with Tim Duncan. The way San Antonio's lineup is set up DeJuan Blair is listed as the center and Duncan is the power forward. Darko Milicic will likely start with Pekovic out and because of his defense, length and shot-blocking he'll likely matchup with Timmy, while Love takes Blair. However, I'm still looking at this as: a future Hall-of-Famer, one of the greatest power forwards ever vs. the Best Young Power Forward, likely annual All-Star and MVP candidate. It's old vs. new. It's not really going to be the matchup, but it's still fun to talk about.
The likely starting lineup matchups will be: Ridnour--Parker, Webster--Ginboli or Kawhi Leonard, Johnson--Danny Green or Kawhi Leonard, Love--Duncan, Milicic--DeJuan Blair.
FINAL NOTES: Ricky Rubio will have surgery on his knee today in Vail Colorado. The full story on that can be found here: Rubio to Have Surgery on Torn ACL (3/21).......The San Antonio Spurs traded Richard Jefferson at the deadline for Stephen Jackson. He made his debut vs. the Mavs and will likely continue to come off the bench behind Kawhi Leonard in the starting lineup.......Via AccuScore, the Spurs are a 72%-28% favorite in this one.....Boris Diaw agreed to a buyout with the Charlotte Bobcats and the Spurs are considered one of the frontrunners to sign him. It makes sense as San Antonio could use another big man and of course him & Parker are buddies--both being French and playing for the national team together (obviously doesn't pertain to tonight's matchup, though)......
PROJECTED FINAL OUTCOME: Spurs 97, Minnesota 89
TIPOFF: Tonight's game tips from the AT&T Center at 7:30pmCT.
Thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!