The Minnesota Timberwolves are playing in their season finale tonight! Writing this, I can't believe I've written 81 previews & 81 recaps this season! Last season I did all 66 and the season before I did probably 40-50 recaps & previews. So, like Luke Ridnour playing in all 82 games, we're bringing you all 82 Gamedays! Did you read them all? I don't blame you! :)
The Wolves will be looking for their 31st win of the season against a San Antonio Spurs squad that's made headlines the past few days.
Like Gregg Popovich usually does, he's rested his aging stars down the stretch and it has ultimately cost the Spurs the #1 seed in the Western Conference. Tony Parker has missed 12 of the last 21 games, while Kawhi Leonard has missed three games in April with a sore knee.
That's not the only headlines the Spurs are making. On Friday, the Spurs waived Stephen Jackson. The Spurs front office decided that Jackson's bad attitude was going to be more detrimental heading into the postseason. Some of Jackson's teammates were reportedly upset, but it was ultimately a decision by the top brass in San Antonio.
More headlines? Sure, why not! On Tuesday, the Spurs signed former scoring champion Tracy McGrady. McGrady has had a storied career, but he's struggled to find work the past few years. Two seasons ago, he played for the Pistons on a minimum deal and last season he played for the Hawks on a minimum deal. He couldn't find an NBA job this year and played in China, averaging over 25 points a game.
Soon after the Spurs signed T-Mac the jokes about him never getting out of the first round started up. McGrady is the only scoring champion to never advance out of the first round in the NBA playoffs. If the Spurs were to lose to the Warriors or the Rockets in the first round...Tracy may never hear the end of it.
The 30-51 Timberwolves are just 10-30 on the road, 16-35 vs. the Western Conference and 4-6 in their last ten games. The 58-23 Spurs are 35-5 at home, 33-18 vs. the Western Conference and 4-6 in their last ten games.
The Spurs are locked into the second seed in the West after giving up a lot of ground to the Thunder these last few weeks. The Spurs have lost 6 of their last 9 games. Before this slump, the Spurs had lost just 6 of their previous 33 games!
With Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard & Tim Duncan missing time, it has been hard for San Antonio. Add to that, Manu Ginobli missing the last nine games with a strained hamstring as well as 22 games total this season to injury. Pop says everyone will play tonight. I'm not sure about Ginobli (hamstring) or Tracy McGrady (recently signed). I've heard conflicting reports about whether or not T-Mac will play in this one--my guess is that he won't.
Must be tough to go through so many injuries to so many key players. I can't imagine what that would be like...oh wait...I can! Kevin Love (hand/knee), Brandon Roy (knees) and Malcolm Lee (knee/hip) will all miss the season finale. Nikola Pekovic (calf) did make the trip, but that doesn't mean he will play. He's still listed as questionable for this one.
The last time these two teams met the Wolves won at home (while the Spurs rested their stars) and Ricky Rubio registered his first NBA career triple double with 21pts, 13reb & 12ast. The Wolves are 1-2 vs. the Spurs this season and will look to even the series tonight. Unfortunately the Wolves have lost 16-straight to the Spurs in San Antonio dating back to January 14, 2004.
Let's take a look at tonight's probable starting lineups...
Obviously, if Nikola Pekovic (16.3P, 8.8R, 0.8B) is able to play, he'll be in the starting lineup. Pop says everyone will play, but I really have no idea what the starting lineup will look like. We could see Cory Joseph at point guard or Matt Bonner at power forward...I'm just not sure.
If the Wolves turn in another performance like they did on Monday vs. the Jazz, you can chalk up the 52nd loss of the season. Adelman said after Monday's game that he was surprised at the team's effort and that they ultimately just kind of 'cashed in'--something this team really hasn't done this season. I attended the season finale last season when the Wolves played the Nuggets at the Target Center. That was a completely different team, but that was a team that was ready to get home to their couches to watch the NBA playoffs. With Ricky Rubio leading the charge as well as guys like Dante Cunningham & Andrei Kirilenko (two players that always seem to have A LOT of effort/energy) pitching in. I don't expect the Wolves to 'roll over and die' in this one.
Tipoff is set for 7pmCT from San Antonio, we'll have the final Gameday recap following the final horn, thank you as always for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!