The Minnesota Timberwolves are 2-0 and are currently tied for first in the Western Conference standings! The Wolves are also the only team in the Northwest division without a loss (both Denver & Utah are 0-2 and the Thunder and Blazers are 1-1).
The Wolves are coming off a big win over the division rival Oklahoma City Thunder & Kevin Durant and tonight they'll be looking to carry that success over vs. the New York Knicks & Carmelo Anthony.
It was some VERY good defense from swingman Corey Brewer that held Kevin Durant to 11 points on 11 shots in 27 minutes. Durant also had as many made field goals (4) as turnovers (4). Brewer will be called upon again tonight against another premier small forward: 2012-13 NBA scoring champion Carmelo Anthony.
Carmelo led the Knicks and the entire NBA in scoring a season ago, putting up 28.7 points per game, edging OKC's Durant by 0.6 for the scoring title. Through two games this season, he's averaging 20.5 points. I'm not expecting another incredible defensive effort from Corey. That is, I'm not expecting Carmelo to score <11 points. That being said, I don't doubt that Brew is going to make things VERY difficult for Melo.
Through their first two game the Knicks are 1-1. They began the season with a 90-83 win over the Bucks on Oct. 30th, but followed it up with an 81-82 loss to Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls. Tyson Chandler went 1-for-2 at the line with 10.8 seconds to go and the 2011 NBA MVP (Rose) hit a floater with 5.7 seconds to play. Melo missed a long jumper at the buzzer and the Knicks lost.
The Knicks will be without J.R. Smith in this one, he'll be serving game 3 of his 5-game suspension in this one. Amar'e Stoudemire missed the season opener vs. the Bucks and played only 11 minutes off the bench in the loss to the Bulls.
Let's take a look at the likely starting lineups in this one...
Knicks head coach Mike Woodson has gone with two different starting lineups to begin the season, the one listed above and the other: Felton, Pablo Prigioni, Shumpert, Anthony & Chandler. Woodson seems to be infatuated with Bargnani and with the Wolves' bigs, he'll likely start Andrea. Bargnani provides another big body to go up against Love & Pek and Bargnani's three-point shooting will draw Love (one of the NBA's best rebounders) away from the basket on defense. Having Shumpert back at the shooting guard and matching up against a great offensive player in Kevin Martin, should be another reason that Woodson turns to this lineup as opposed to his three-guard lineup.
The Wolves will be without Chase Budinger who continues to rehab from his lateral meniscus (removal) surgery. He's currently in Pensacola, Florida rehabbing, but should return to Minnesota sometime in the next week or two as it sounds as though he's still a few weeks away from getting back to practice/playing. The Wolves will also be without backup center Ronny Turiaf. Ronny spilled to the floor in yesterday's win over the Thunder. He was going up for a rebound and OKC's Collison collided with him in mid-air, sending Turiaf to the floor landing hard on his right arm. He was helped to his feet and after a brief stint on the bench, he retreated to the locker room and did not return. Turiaf underwent an MRI on Saturday afternoon and we found out that he fractured the radial head of his right elbow. He'll be in a sling for a couple weeks and hope is that it won't require surgery, he'll be re-evaluated in a week, but he WILL still travel with the team.
The Knicks shot 50.7% from the field (36-of-71) in their win over the Bucks, but only 36% (31-of-86) in the loss to the Bulls. Anthony went 7-for-16 in the win and 8-for-24 in the loss. It's clear the Knicks go as Melo goes (especially without J.R. Smith to help carry some of the scoring load). If Brewer can make things difficult for Anthony, the Wolves have a very good chance of winning. The Wolves have looked very good on offense through two games, excluding blowing a lead and nearly losing vs. the Magic on opening night. The Wolves did an excellent job of building a big lead over the Thunder and then maintaining it for the easy W.
This one will tip at 6:30pmCT from Madison Square Garden, enjoy the game!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!