The 5-2 Timberwolves are looking for a win over the Clippers tonight and with it they'll have won six of their first eight games which would be the best start for Minnesota in the past 12 years--the previous best being the 9-1 start in 2001-02.
They'll be going against a Clippers team that they've lost five-straight games to, with the last win coming on March 5, 2012. That wasn't the game where Love hit the last second three for the win (that one came on January 20th). The Wolves still had Darko Milicic & Michael Beasley on the roster and they both (surprisingly) were keys in that win, but the Wolves were still led by Kevin Love who had 39pts & 17reb. The Wolves won that one 95-94.
The Clippers had lost two-straight games--both of them in Florida (vs. Orlando and Miami) before winning their most recent game vs. the Rockets in Houston, 107-94. Chris Paul has been good this season, but he's struggled finding his shot in the past two games. Over that time he's totaled 25 points on 8-for-24 shooting. Despite that Chris Paul has a double-double in all seven games this season.
The Timberwolves' hot start can be attributed to Kevin Love, Kevin Martin and Corey Brewer. They've been absolutely terrific, the Wolves need the other guys to step up. Ricky Rubio did so last night with his second career triple-double. However, it's really no secret that Minnesota's bench has been awful and Nikola Peković has struggled early in the season. I'm not too concerned about Pek, I know he'll turn things around and start shooting higher percentages and finishing off those easy looks, however the bench is more concerning. The Wolves will get a boost from Chase Budinger and Ronny Turiaf when they return from injury, but the concern is right now. The Wolves need J.J. Barea to step up. I've said it a number of times and it still holds true. He hasn't been the offensive weapon that the Wolves need off the bench.
The Wolves will be without Budinger (knee) and Turiaf (elbow). Derrick Williams sat out Friday's game vs. the Mavericks with back spasms and before last night's game vs. the Lakers, he said that he wasn't quite 100%, but he'd be ready to go...but the Wolves didn't need him, they were able to sit him and he played just 3 minutes at the end of the night.
The Clippers are without their third-string point guard Maalik Wayns. He underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee, he's listed as 'out indefinitely'. Swingman Matt Barnes missed the Clips' most recent game with a calf strain and he's questionable for tonight's game.
Let's take a look at the probable starters for this one...
Los Angeles Clippers
The Timberwolves will need to look to exploit their mismatches at the wings and get Kevin Martin and Corey Brewer going early. It should be a good battle in the paint against two of the NBA's premier power forwards. I'd love for Nikola Peković to get going, but I don't know that it will be tonight vs. the Clippers and DeAndre Jordan--one of the NBA's better frontcourt defenders.
Like the Timberwolves, the Clippers have a lot of offensive firepower and it may come down to which team will be able get the stops.
Tipoff is a late 9:30pmCT start from STAPLES Center, enjoy the game and expect a gameday recap sometime Tuesday afternoon. Thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!