Tonight the Minnesota Timberwolves will be facing the Portland Trailblazers, in their first of three meetings this season. With a win tonight, the Trailblazers will extend their winning streak over Minnesota to an astounding 17 games! The TWolves have also lost 11 straight games at the Rose Garden--the last time Minnesota won in Portland was December 7, 2005!
With a loss tonight the Minnesota Timberwolves will move to 9th place in the Western Conference and drop Portland to 10th. The Blazers have lost 8 of their last 12 games--including their last 2. With a loss tonight the Blazers will also fall below .500 for the first time this entire season!
The Timberwolves are currently 18-19 on the season and 8-9 on the road. The Blazers are 18-18 currently and have been much better at home this season: 13-6. Both teams are looking to snap two game losing streaks.
The Timberwolves are coming off a loss to the Phoenix Suns. The game was kept close through the first half, but since it was the final game of a back-to-back-to-back game set the TWolves clearly looked fatigued and the Suns' hot shooting carried them to a W over Minnesota. Here's a full gameday recap of that one.
The Trailblazers played on Thursday night vs. the Miami Heat, the outcome, was a 107-93 loss for the Blazers. LeBron James & Dwyane Wade carried the Heat as they combined for 71pts, 13rebs, 16ast, 8stls & 2blks. The Blazers jumped out to an early 14-6 lead, but the Heat quickly got things going and took the lead, anytime the Blazers got close again LBJ & Wade would go on a run. One key was after the Heat allowed Aldridge to score 12pts in the first quarter, they held him to just 8pts over the final three quarters. LA finished with 20pts, 6rebs, 4ast & 1stl; Crawford (who now starts at point guard) had 18pts & 4ast; and Batum (who starts at SG) had 17pts, 5rebs, 2ast, 3stls & 2blks.
Accuscore has the Portland Trailblazers as the favorite: 68-32. Portland by 6.0 and an over/under of 194.5. Also, I was browsing through some stats on Accuscore and they have the Timberwolves winning 32 games this season, with a 28.1% chance of making the playoffs.
Portland is currently averaging the 5th best offense in the NBA with 98.2ppg. They also allow have the 11th best defense in the NBA (based on points allowed) with 93.8. However, over their last 4 games they're allowing 102.8 points to opponents (games vs. LAL, SAS, DEN & MIA), they've won 1 of those 4 games (a 137-97 win over San Antonio).
The Trailblazers' current starting lineup includes...
Obviously if the Wolves start their usual lineup of two point guards there will be matchup problems-galore! Crawford is 6-5, Batum 6-8 & Wallace 6-7. If 6-2 Ridnour has to match up against the versatile swingman Batum, Batum could have a big game!
If you remember this summer, the Wolves were seriously considering signing guard Jamal Crawford, instead they signed guard J.J. Barea, who has played just 20 of the Wolves' 37 games this season as he's dealt with a number of different injuries. Don't expect him to play tonight either, though. J.J. is currently nursing a strained right calf. I definitely think the Wolves should've signed Crawford this offseason (he could've easily been the team's starting shooting guard and been the shooter Minnesota desperately needs/needed this season). Crawford is averaging 14.5ppg, 4apg, 2rpg while J.J. is averaging 10ppg, 3.2apg, 2.4rpg. Crawford has also found his way into the starting lineup as the Blazers' starting point guard, while J.J. has come off the bench and has had 'sporadic' performances...at best!
J.J. Barea is likely out for Minnesota tonight, being the only injured Timberwolf. For the Blazers, they may be without third string center Kurt Thomas as he's got a concussion and didn't play Thursday vs. Miami. It's not a big loss for the Blazers as they recently resigned Joel Pryzbilla to back up Camby at center.
Your matchup of the night? Aldridge vs. Love. Love is looking to turn things around as he's averaging just 29.9% shooting from the field, 17ppg & 11rpg. Love's looking to climb out of that slump and return to form--and there's no doubt that if the Timberwolves want to contend for a playoff spot they'll need him to play like he did earlier in the first half of the season. Fatigue and injuries have slowed him down recently. He was sick vs. the Lakers on Wednesday & the night before he suffered a some bruised ribs after an elbow from behind courtesy of Randy Foye. Aldridge is also the top player for his team. He averages a team-high 22.1ppg as well as 8.2rpg & 1.0spg.
The Timberwolves & Trailblazers will meet again Wednesday (3/7) in Minnesota and finally in Portland (4/1).
These are two teams that are just barely out of a playoff spot, so this is an important win for either team! 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!