If the Timberwolves come in thinking they've got the easy win again, the Washington Wizards COULD snag their first victory of the regular season. The Wizards are 0-7 in this young season and could very well have already chalked this season up as another dismal year in the nation's capital. The Wolves are 2-5 this year with wins over Dallas & San Antonio. Since those two wins the Wolves have tallied two losses at the hands of Memphis & most recently Cleveland.
The Cleveland game was certainly one where they came in thinking they already chalked up the win, but the upstart Cavs led by Antawn Jamison & Kyrie Irving. Another? The loss to Memphis who was without Zach Randolph. Rick Adelman has told them that they haven't won anything yet, they can't come in thinking they've already won the championship. Unfortunately the Wizards are a prime candidate for another team the Wolves'll underestimate! You win two games against championship-caliber teams and suddenly you think you're the best team in the League? Hopefully the past two losses have been a wake up call for Minnesota!
Sunday's game @Washington marks the beginning of the Wolves' first (of two) back-to-back-to-back game(s) set this season, with games coming on Monday @Toronto & Tuesday vs. Chicago. All three games, it'll be important for the bench to be plenty productive!
Kevin Love will contribute as he always does, however it's up to the likes of Rubio, Ridnour, Tolliver, Johnson etc. to step up and contribute. The Wolves will likely be without key players: Beasley & Barea. With those two key players out, it will bump Anthony Randolph & Nikola Pekovic into the 9th & 10th slots in Adelman's rotation. Beasley has that mid-foot sprain he suffered vs. CLE and Barea is still nursing a strained hamstring.
Let's take a look at each team's projected starting lineup...
Mark it down, Sunday's game will be Ricky Rubio's first NBA start this season. Yes, I realize I said that once before, BUT with Michael Beasley almost certainly out, the Timberwolves could go with a two-point guard set versus Wall & Young. This'll also give Wesley Johnson a chance to play in his natural position, we'll see if he can be any more productive with a few games to work with. My opinion? I wouldn't count on much more consistent production from Wes. The main concerns for Minnesota vs. Washington? John Wall & Nick Young on the offensive end, both are averaging just over 15ppg and are the focal points of this offense. McGee will control the paint for Washington, blocking shots & grabbing rebounds.
My key matchup for this game is the battle of two young point guards: Ricky Rubio & John Wall. Wall has struggled early this season shooting just 36% from the field in his second season in the League. Ricky Rubio has got off to a hot start in his rookie campaign. He's getting plenty of minutes off the bench (playing every minute of every fourth quarter of every game this season). He's quickly gained the trust of his teammates and his coach and this game will be his first NBA start. He's incredibly unselfish (maybe even too unselfish, at times), a MUCH better shooter than initially thought and just an all-around 'joy' to watch! (A quick note: there is a small chance the Wolves decide to start Wayne Ellington at the shooting guard and keeping Ridnour as the starting point...honestly, I don't know)
Needless to say, I'm hesitant to get too excited for this one. I'm just concerned about the Wolves' output. Meaning, I'm curious if they're going to show up to play or that they won't show up and assume they've already won. If it's the latter, I may go crazy! As long as there's effort, I'll be happy. As long as the Wolves give 100%, I'll be happy...even if that means they give the Wiz their first win this season!
That's all for now, tipoff is set for 12pmCT Sunday (1/7). A full gameday recap can be found on this site following the final horn. Enjoy the game & GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!