After another incredibly disappointing effort vs. the Lakers on Friday night, the Timberwolves desperately need this win--especially against a team that has handed them two narrow defeats already this season.
This is the third meeting of four this season. The Clippers took that first meeting at the STAPLES Center on November 11th, 107-109. That was the game where Kevin Martin missed the game-tying jump shot and then Pek missed a tip-in and then Love missed a tip-in as the buzzer sounded. The second loss came at the Target Center just nine days later (11/20). The Clippers escaped with another narrow, 102-98 victory. The Wolves need a win tonight if they don't want to lose the season series. The last meeting of the season between these two teams will come on March 31st at the Target Center.
Since the last time these teams met, the Clippers have lost just five games whereas our Timberwolves have dropped eight games. The Clippers are 19-9 on the year, 11-2 at home, 13-3 vs. the Western Conference and winners of four-straight. The Timberwolves are below .500 once again at 13-14, 5-10 on the road, 6-9 vs. the Western Conference and 5-5 in their last ten games.
The Wolves played on Friday vs. the Lakers and had yesterday off. The Clippers played against the Denver Nuggets last night in L.A. The result was a 112-91 win for LAC. The Wolves will definitely have the 'fresher legs' and we could see a big offensive first quarter from the Wolves as a result. That will be all for naught if the Wolves don't execute throughout the game. They're most definitely not playing to win right now--they're playing not to lose and the result has been a lot of losses against teams that have no business beating the Timberwolves (most recently the Celtics & Lakers).
Ricky Rubio was battling an illness in that game vs. the Lakers, but it sounds as though he's doing better and will be good to go for this one. Chase Budinger (knee) and Ronny Turiaf (elbow) are still out, thought it sounds as though their returns are on the horizon, if not after Christmas, then sometime early in the new year.
The Clippers will be without three of their guards. Maalik Wayns is still recovering from surgery on his torn meniscus. Reggie Bullock is dealing with an ankle injury that will keep him out until sometime in early 2014. Lastly, starting shooting guard J.J. Redick had a wrist injury in a game vs. the Kings (I believe it was in Derrick Williams' Kings debut--because I remember watching the game). In his place, sixth man Jamal Crawford has been starting at shooting guard for the Clips. Reserve swingman Matt Barnes had missed the previous 16 games after undergoing surgery to repair a torn retina in his eye. He returned last night against the Nuggets sporting some protective goggles and contributed 13 points off the bench.
If the Wolves put forth the kind of effort that they have vs. the Celtics & Lakers this week, the Wolves are going to get blown out! All I want for Christmas from the Minnesota Timberwolves is effort on both ends of the floor! Just effort...that's all!
Tonight's game is a late 8:30 tip, enjoy the game, Happy Holidays and GO WOLVES!