UPDATE: A quick couple notes on Oklahoma City's opener on Christmas day. They faced the Orlando Magic in OKC this Christmas evening, which resulted in a 97-89 Thunder win. Kevin Durant led the charge with 30pts on 11-of-19 shooting, 5rebs & 6ast. Other key performers for the Thunder included 19pts, 6rebs and 3ast for James Harden off the bench in 32 minutes. Russell Westbrook added 14pts, 7rebs & 6ast on 6-of-17 shooting. The key to their win? OKC was able to hold Dwight Howard to just 11pts on the night--he did however pull down 15rebs (note: Kevin Love will blow up on the boards tomorrow night!). The Thunder led throughout the whole night, by the end of the third they were up 18. An easy win for the Thunder against a squad that seems very distracted by their superstar wanting OUT! Enjoy the rest of your Christmas! Get pumped for tomorrow's TWolves opener at the Target Center! GO WOLVES!
The day after Christmas marks the Timberwolves' first regular season matchup of a shortened 66-game season.
The Wolves' preseason went VERY well. They beat the Bucks twice in two exhibition games. Check out both of those gameday recaps under the 'Gameday' section of this site.
The Wolves will look to build off an undefeated preseason going into a really rough first week with five games in eight days!
The first of which is versus the Oklahoma City Thunder--a team that most analysts have not only taking the Western Conference Championship--but also the NBA Championship. Lofty expectations for a young team, but they're definitely good enough.
Let's take a look at the lineups for each team...
PG: Luke Ridnour, Ricky Rubio, J.J. Barea, Malcolm Lee
SG: Wesley Johnson, Wayne Ellington
SF: Michael Beasley
PF: Kevin Love, Derrick Williams, Anthony Randolph, Anthony Tolliver
C: Darko Milicic
PG: Russell Westbrook, Eric Maynor, Reggie Jackson, Royal Ivey
SG: James Harden, Thabo Sefelosha, Daequan Cook
SF: Kevin Durant, Lazar Hayward, Ryan Reid
PF: Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison
C: Kendrick Perkins, Nazr Mohammed, Cole Aldrich
Obviously, you see the former TWolf: Lazar Hayward. A trade sent Lazar to the Thunder for two second-round picks as well as guard Robert Vaden (who MIN waived immediately). Hopefully he sees some time this season as the main backup to Kevin Durant.
Also noted, we put James Harden as the Thunder's starting shooting guard. Last season Thabo was their starter, however I feel that he should be their starter. That being said, it's likely he won't, they like having him come off the bench as a sixth man scoring punch!
There are a lot of great matchups in this game...
You've got Ricky Rubio against Russell Westbrook (Ricky won't start, but he'll finish AND see plenty of minutes. A playmaking guard who won't look to shoot against a point guard who maybe takes TOO MANY shots. It should be a good matchup on both ends of the floor.
Michael Beasley against Kevin Durant, we'll see if Beas can slow down my pick for this years scoring champ & MVP, let's face it, Kevin Durant is going to be unstoppable this season. If the Wolves want to win this game--Adelman needs to find someone/way to stop--or rather slow down Durant!
Kevin Love against Serge Ibaka, two young forwards, we'll see if Ibaka's defense is good enough to shut down Kevin offensively and on the boards! Serge is a great defender, but he'll have his hands full with K-Love, who will likely still go off for 20+ points and pull-down 15+ rebounds.
I'm excited to see more of a lot of different things in this first game this season. We'll get to see more of that Ricky Rubio--J.J. Barea backcout. A frontcourt that features Beasley/Williams/Love.
There are also a lot of questions that I'm curious to see answered this game. For instance: how much will Anthony Randolph get to play? How will he perform? Sure, Luke Ridnour will start, but how much will he play now that Ricky Rubio & J.J. Barea are back? Malcolm Lee performed very well that second preseason game, but like Luke, how much time will he see? Can Wesley Johnson be an effective starting shooting guard in this League? A lot of questions, that are, without a doubt going to take longer than just one game vs. the Thunder to answer.
An interesting sidenote; this game will feature two players who have slimmed down substantially this offseason. Minnesota's Kevin Love dropped 20-25lbs. and is a much more mobile player with more stamina. OKC's Kendrick Perkins also took the extended offseason to shed some pounds and looks great, no longer is a 6-10 boulder, he looks like Kevin Durant if he was muscular, now! Who knows, we may even get to see these guys matched up against one another, as Perkins is someone Love could definitely match up against in the post in that B/DW/L frontcourt!
A few small predictions for you going into this game...
1.) Kevin Love will have a 20-15 game as long as his "jammed" ankle lets him play the whole game.
2.) Ricky Rubio will have double-digits in assists.
3.) Michael Beasley will score 15+ points, but he'll also let Kevin Durant go off for 25+!
4.) Serge Ibaka will record 3+ blocks.
5.) Darko Milcic will record 2+ blocks.
6.) Derrick Williams will have at least one highlight reel dunk in this game.
7.) Wesley Johnson will play less than 15 minutes.
8.) Russell Westbrook will score under 13 points.
9.) The Wolves will hit at least 10 three-pointers.
10.) Lastly, Minnesota will boast a +8 (or more) rebounds.
PROJECTED FINAL OUTCOME: Minnesota 93, Oklahoma City 104
That's all for now, if you haven't already, check out our preseason analysis' for each position under the News & Rumors section of this site. Tipoff is set for 7pmCT from the Target Center, you'll be able to find a full gameday recap on this site following the final horn! Thanks for reading, have a Happy Holidays & GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!