The Minnesota Timberwolves are playing yet another back-to-back. Tonight is the second of two games as they'll take on the Grizzlies in Memphis at the FedEx Forum. The Wolves are coming off a two-point win over the New Orleans Hornets last night at Target Center.
Tonight, Minnesota will be seeking consecutive wins for the first time since Dec. 7-15th when they won four-straight.
The likelihood of stringing back-to-back wins together and a win over the Grizzlies will certainly be an uphill battle. The Grizz are currently riding a 7-game home winning streak and even more impressive, 9-straight overall vs. the Minnesota Timberwolves. In fact, the Wolves haven't beaten the Grizzlies since February 6, 2010 and they haven't beaten them in Memphis since January 6, 2009.
During Memphis' 7-game home winning streak, they're holding opponents to just 44.6% FG. During Memphis' 9-game winning streak over Minnesota, they're allowing the TWolves just 86.8 points per game on 40.5% FG.
Not only have they held the Wolves to low scoring nights, but 1 of their last 33 opponents at FedEx Forum have scored over 100 points!
The Wolves are feeling good after that narrow victory over the Hornets on Sunday. The return of Kirilenko & Pekovic boosted them to a win. Pek grabbed a key offensive rebound in the final 20 seconds and hit two free throws, while Kirilenko came up with a big block on Eric Gordon, came up with the rebound and then was fouled with just 5 seconds to play. He then went 1 of 2 at the line and the Wolves got one more defensive stop on a Roger Mason three-pointer for the slim victory.
Both Kirilenko & Pekovic said they would be playing today in Memphis, but we'll obviously know for sure in a few hours. The Wolves continue to play on without Kevin Love (hand), Brandon Roy (knees) and Malcolm Lee (knee/hip). Chase Budinger (knee) is very close to a return to the court. Chase won't play tonight, but it's sounding as though he could debut later this week. The Wolves play tonight (Monday) and then don't play again until Thursday in Sacramento and then again, Friday in Phoenix. It's sounding very likely that he'll return during one of those two games!
The Grizzlies have had a few minor injuries these past couple weeks. Darrell Arthur is likely out for this one as he continues to recover from a neck/back injury. He's said he won't rush back and didn't play at all last week. It's unknown if he'll be sitting this one out or not. Tony Wroten was battling some migraine headaches and didn't play in Memphis last game (on Saturday), he's likely to play. Both Ed Davis & Austin Daye were battling some illnesses this weekend, but both still played on Saturday night, I'd expect them to be available to go tonight as well.
Let's take a look at tonight's probable starting lineups...
The big concern will be the big guys in the paint. Zach Randolph & Marc Gasol are now (with Rudy Gay gone) the undeniable centerpieces to this Grizzlies team. With Gay gone it also makes the Grizzlies much more of a halfcourt offense. They'll set up and run plays to get their bigs easy buckets. The matchup I'm most concerned about is Derrick Williams & Zach Randolph. Randolph is a very talented offensive big man that's a 20-10 threat every time he steps out on the court. Williams has to find a way to slow him down and try to match his physicality level. Get low when he starts to back you down and then get ready for him to turn and let loose with a fadeaway jumper.
I'm also looking forward to the Prince-Kirilenko & the Pekovic-Gasol matchups. All four players are very talented NBA players and simply put, it should be some good basketball to watch.
Tipoff is set for 7pmCT from Memphis, enjoy the game, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!