The struggling Minnesota Timberwolves head to Cleveland to face the surging Cavaliers in a Monday night matchup. The Minnesota Timberwolves are 2-15 in their last seven games, while the Cavs are 6-3 in their last nine.
These two teams met once before this season, which resulted in an easy 91-73 win for the Wolves. Those two teams that met on December 7th look QUITE different now. The Wolves were led by Kevin Love in that game as he finished the night with 36pts & 13reb. The Cavs were also playing without Kyrie Irving who was still nursing his broken finger. Cleveland started Jeremy Pargo at point guard in that game and he's not even on the team any longer.
The Wolves started Malcolm Lee, Andrei Kirilenko & Kevin Love in that game and neither will play in this one. Josh Howard came off the bench and he's also no longer with the team.
The Cavs were part of a trade that sent Jon Leuer to the Grizzlies, while receiving some key second unit players, including Marreese Speights, Josh Selby and former Wolf Wayne Ellington (along with a first round pick).
The Timberwolves are struggling mightily the past month and a half. The Wolves have lost four-straight overall and eight-straight road games. During their eight game skid, the Wolves have lost by an average of 13.3 points.
These two teams have reversed roles this season. The Cavaliers were a team that had a terrible start to the season (mainly because they were without Kyrie Irving), whereas the Wolves were terrific to start the year. Now, with Irving back in the mix and playing at a high level the Cavs are playing pretty good basketball, while the Wolves have been absolutely putrid.
The Cavaliers are 6-3 in their last 9 games and that's thanks in large part to their all-star. Kyrie Irving is averaging 26.9ppg on 52.4% FG during this stretch and he'll be representing the East in the 2013 All-Star game this coming weekend in Houston. The Cavs began the season 3-12 at home, but have since gone 6-2.
The Wolves are 3-1 vs. the Cavaliers in their last four meetings.
The Wolves are again down to just nine healthy players. Kevin Love and Chase Budinger are nearing returns, but it's likely to be mid-March at the earliest. Brandon Roy continues to try and work his way back to the court, but it's about as likely that he plays for the Wolves this season, that the Wolves make the playoffs. Malcolm Lee is out for the year after a knee and hip surgeries. Andrei Kirilenko is dealing with a strained quad and isn't expected back until after the All-Star break. J.J. Barea is dealing with another mid-foot sprain and while he was in uniform last night, he didn't get off the bench. He remains questionable for this one.
The Cavaliers are without their big man Anderson Varejo. Varejo underwent season-ending knee surgery roughly a month ago. He also had a blood clot in his leg that actually could've killed him. Anderson says himself, that's he's lucky to be alive. Varejo was averaging just over 14pts & 14 rebs a game for the Cavs and probably would've made the all-star team.
Let's take a look at the probable starting lineups...
Despite the Cavaliers' recent hot play and the TWolves woeful ways, this is without a doubt a winnable game. The key will be containing Kyrie Irving and exploiting the Wolves' advantage with Pek in the paint.
Ricky Rubio has been terrific lately. He had another great scoring game last night--17pts on 6-11 shooting, but the Grizz did an excellent job at taking away his playmaking skills (Ricky finished with just 4 assists). Ricky will have his hands full on both ends with Irving.
That's all for now, this one tips at 7pmCT, enjoy the game thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!