The Minnesota Timberwolves play their first back-to-back games of the season. They're coming off of a 109-100 win over the Knicks in New York. That snapped a four-game losing streak to the Knicks.
Tonight the Wolves are in Cleveland to end this two-game road trip vs. the Cavaliers. The Cavs are a team with a lot of potential and talent. They let go of head coach Byron Scott this summer and brought back Mike Brown, the same Mike Brown who was fired after seven games with the Lakers a season ago. Brown has exchanged Kobe, Gasol & Howard for Irving, Varejo and Bynum.
The Cavaliers have started the season 1-2. They won their home opener, but then went on a two-game road trip, each of which ended with a loss. The most recent coming on Saturday night vs. the Pacers in Indiana. They lost that one 74-89 as Paul George and Lance Stephenson combined for 43 points. Stephenson scored 10 of 14 points in a 14-4 run midway through the fourth quarter that closed the door on the Cavs for the W. The Cavs were led by 17 from Dion Waiters, 15 for Irving and 14 for Varejo.
The Cavaliers not only made a coaching change, but they also brought in some new players. The Cavaliers have four rookies on the team: Anthony Bennett, Sergey Karasev, Carrick Felix and Matthew Delladova. They also signed reserve guard Jarrett Jack away from Golden State, forward Earl Clark from the L.A. Lakers and Andrew Bynum away from Philadelphia.
Andrew Bynum did not play at all a season ago, but with the Cavaliers this year he played the first two games of the regular season before sitting out the loss to the Pacers on Saturday. With a couple days rest since his last game, it seems likely that he'll play in this one, though as of early Monday morning--I haven't heard anything. Rookie Carrick Felix however is "out indefinitely" with a groin injury.
The injury-plagued Timberwolves are without Chase Budinger (knee) and Ronny Turiaf (elbow), but through the first three games they haven't lost any of their key players (Love, Rubio, Martin, Pek, etc).
Let's take a look at the likely starting lineups for this one...
I'm really looking forward to the Kyrie Irving--Ricky Rubio matchup at point guard. Irving is undoubtedly a Top 5 point guard in this League and Ricky Rubio is an incredible playmaker with some very underrated defense. I'm really looking forward to this showdown.
I also have Dion Waiters & Anderson Varejo on my fantasy team (along with Kevin Love & Corey Brewer). Hoping for some big games from them, but not too big...
The Cavaliers are averaging just 85.3 points per game. Not all that surprising considering their only real offensive weapons are in the backcourt: Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Jarrett Jack. Anderson Varejo is still working back to 100% from his season-ending injury last year. He was averaging over 14 points & 14 rebounds before his season ended early and he clearly isn't back to that form, quite yet. The Cavaliers have to young power forwards on the roster in Thompson & Bennett that, like most young players are known for their inconsistent play.
The Timberwolves need to come out strong in this one as they've done in their first three games, averaging over 37 points per game in the first quarter! However, there still needs to be effort throughout in this one, on both ends of the floor. Part of Minnesota's lapses after quarter number one seem to be the play from the bench. They need to get guys like J.J. Barea, Alexey Shved and Derrick Williams going. J.J. in particular is averaging just 9.3 points per game through the first three games and they could use a bit more production (points or assists) for him when he comes on the floor to run the second unit or even when he shares the backcourt with Rubio.
This one tips at 6pmCT, enjoy the game, we'll have the full gameday recap following the final horn. Thanks for reading & GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!