The Minnesota Timberwolves have been floundering lately. After a solid 5-2 start to the season, the Wolves have gone 4-9 over their last 13 games. Minnesota has also dropped 7 of their last 9 games and 6 of their last 7 on the road. Their play on the defensive end is a BIG reason for their problems.
That being said, it was some terrible offense in their most recent outing that doomed them. The Wolves shot a franchise-worst 29.3% from the field vs. the Heat on Saturday and lost 82-103.
In five of Minnesota's last six games where they've gone 1-5, they've allowed their opponents to shoot 50% or better. The Heat shot 55.1% on Saturday. In Minnesota's lone win during this six-game span, the Mavericks shot 48.9% (still far too high). In Minnesota's last six games they're allowing opponents to score 108.2 points on 52.2% from the field.
While the Timberwolves have been struggling, the Pistons have been on a hot streak. Detroit is coming off a loss to the Heat of their own--despite defeating them a few days earlier in Miami. The Pistons have won 4 of their last 5 outings. Over those last five games the Pistons are limiting opponents to 42.6% shooting with a +11.2 rebounding advantage.
The Wolves are 9-11 on the year, 3-7 on the road and 3-7 in their last ten games. They currently have the 4th best offense (104.7pts), 6th best rebounding squad (45.4), 2nd in steals (9.5); but 30th in blocks (3.3), 27th in FG% (42.3%), 26th in 3PT% (32.3%) and 24th in points allowed (101.9).
The Pistons are 10-11 on the season, 5-6 at home and 6-4 in their last ten games. They currently have the 8th-best rebounding squad (44.4), 1st in steals (9.8), 13th in points allowed (99.3) and 11th in blocks (5.0); but are 22nd in assists (20.1), 30th in FT% (67.7%) and 27th in 3PT% (32%).
The Timberwolves have won the last six meetings vs. the Pistons.
Let's take a look at tonight's probable starting lineups...
PG: Ricky Rubio (8.4pts, 4.6reb, 8.4ast, 3stls); SG: Kevin Martin (22.9pts, 3.8reb, 2.2ast, 1.3stls); SF: Corey Brewer (14pts, 2.7reb, 1.9stls); PF: Kevin Love (23.7pts, 13.6reb, 4.1ast, 0.8stls); C: Nikola Peković (15.7pts, 8.9reb, 1ast)
PG: Brandon Jennings (17pts, 3.3reb, 8.1ast, 1.6stls); SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (7.3pts, 2.1reb, 0.9stls); SF: Josh Smith (13.9pts, 6.8reb, 3.4ast, 1.6stls, 1.5blks); PF: Greg Monroe (14.2pts, 9reb, 2.2ast, 1.3stls); C: Andre Drummond (13.5pts, 13reb, 1.9stls, 1.4blks)
Andre Drummond is having a terrific season and proving that he is undoubtedly the franchise cornerstone in the Motor City! It will be a great battle with Andre & Pek in the paint. Nikola has been playing quite well lately averaging 20.5 points & 10.3 rebounds in his last four outings. He did finish with 18 points & 12 rebounds in that loss to Miami, but he shot just 7-for-18 from the field (39%).
The return of Kevin Love will most certainly help, too. Kevin missed the most recent outing after the passing of his maternal grandmother. He practiced on Monday and will be back in the lineup tonight in Detroit. Love missed the three most recent matchups with Detroit in the regular season, but in the previous three games the NBA's best rebounder (13.6) is averaging 18.3 vs. the Pistons.
The NBA's frontcourt will have their hands full with Detroit's big three of Smith, Monroe & Drummond. Three very athletic and very physical players. Add to that the solid play of late from former-Buck Brandon Jennings and it's pretty clear why the Pistons have found success in the month of December (4-1).
Minnesota's big men have to remain physical in the paint, keep Monroe & Drummond more out towards the mid-range and deny those alley-oop attempts to Dre. Brewer will likely begin the game matched up against Smith (though Mbah a Moute will see time vs. him as well) and you want to give him those three-point & mid-range shots he inexplicably loves.
The Wolves will be without Chase Budinger (knee) & Ronny Turiaf (elbow)--both continue to make progress towards that pre-Christmas timetable return. The Pistons will be without: Chauncey Billups (knee)--he practiced on Friday, is close to a return, but it won't be tonight; Will Bynum (hamstring)--who has no timetable for a return; and Rodney Stuckey (knee) who may play, but didn't on Sunday vs. Miami.
Tipoff is set for 6:30pmCST from the Palace of Auburn Hills in Detroit. That's all for now, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!