In what should be their second meeting of the season, the Timberwolves will travel to San Antonio to take on the defending Western Conference champs on Friday night. These two teams were supposed to play last Wednesday in Mexico City, but a faulty generator caused the arena to fill with smoke and the game to be cancelled.
So, the 11-11 Timberwolves will take on the 17-4 Spurs in tonight's action. The Wolves are 4-7 on the road, 4-7 vs. the Western Conference, winners of two-straight and 4-6 in their last ten games. The Spurs are 8-2 at home, 8-3 vs. the West, winners of two-straight and 7-3 in their last ten games.
The Timberwolves struggled early in their last outing as they allowed the Sixers to score 39 first quarter points and take a commanding 19-point lead after twelve minutes. Fortunately the Wolves battled back over the final three quarters and thanks to a key contribution from Robbie Hummel (who scored 10 points in the final quarter) the Wolves were able to avoid the big mistake of allowing one of the NBA's worst defenses to beat them.
If the Wolves want a win tonight, it's going to take a MUCH better effort on both ends of the floor. The Spurs are one of the NBA's premier defensive teams allowing just over 92 points a game. If the Wolves get down by a lot in the early stages of this game, I wouldn't bank on a big second half rally for the win. Not against Popovich, Parker, Duncan & the Spurs.
The Wolves will be without Chase Budinger (knee) and Ronny Turiaf (elbow). Updates on both of them can be found on our Injury Report. The Spurs may be without their starting center Tiago Splitter. Splitter stay in San Antonio while the Spurs played their last two games away from home. He's currently dealing with a calf injury and is questionable for tonight's game.
The Spurs had won 16-straight home games over the Timberwolves before that streak was snapped last April (17th) when the Wolves handed the Spurs a 108-95 loss. The Wolves also won the previous meeting (at the Target Center), which means they'll be going for their first three-game winning streak over San Antonio since they won all four meetings back in the 1996-97 season.
The Spurs have been very good this season, but they've struggled recently at home dropping two of their last three games--with a win over Atlanta and losses to the Pacers and the Rockets. They have won their last two games (both on the road) over Toronto and Milwaukee. They absolutely embarrassed the Bucks in their last outing handing them a 109-77 loss.
Let's take a look at tonight's probable starting lineups...
PG: Ricky Rubio (9.2pts, 4.5reb, 8.4ast, 2.9stls); SG: Kevin Martin (21.9pts, 3.5reb, 2.1ast, 1.4stls); SF: Corey Brewer (13.7pts, 2.6reb, 1.7stls); PF: Kevin Love (23.9pts, 13.8reb, 4.2ast, 0.8stls); C: Nikola Peković (16pts, 8.8reb, 1ast)
San Antonio Spurs
PG: Tony Parker (17.6pts, 2.5reb, 6ast); SG: Danny Green (7.9pts, 3.2reb, 1.2stls); SF: Kawhi Leonard (11.4pts, 6.1reb, 1.9stls); PF: Tim Duncan (13.4pts, 8.3reb, 2.8ast, 1.7blks); C: Tiago Splitter (8.4pts, 6.6reb, 1.1ast)
Tonight features an epic battle at the power forward position. The NBA's best power forward against a future Hall-of-Famer! Kevin Love is one of the NBA's very best and yet he still has yet to reach the postseason. Something Tim Duncan has done many times en-route to four championship rings. Love is one of the best, but Duncan is one of the greatest of all-time! Timmy has 770 career double-doubles under his belt, Love has 211. I'm sure we'd all like Kevin Love to have the kind of career Duncan has. That means numerous trips to the postseason, championship rings, individual awards and playing for one team his entire career.
The Wolves need to stay engaged on defense. San Antonio is the NBA's very best in assists, which means they have terrific ball movement. If the Wolves want to win they have to put in the work on defense, because they second you slack--they'll find the open man for any easy bucket.
If the Wolves want any chance of winning tonight, they're going to need A LOT more from Kevin Martin. K-Mart finished with a season-low 5 points on Wednesday vs. the Sixers to go along with 2 assists, 1 steal, 2 fouls, 1-for-9 from the field, 0-for-3 from deep and 3-for-4 at the line in 28 minutes. There's no way he can produce another dud like that tonight if the Wolves want to win this game against one of the NBA's best.
That's all for now, this one is set to tip at 7:30pmCST, enjoy the game and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!