The 2-0 Minnesota Timberwolves will play their home opener Monday night at the Target Center vs. the 1-2 Portland Trailblazers.
The Trailblazers that Minnesota has struggled against in tough matchups the past couple seasons is not the Blazer squad we'll see tonight. The Blazers are a completely different squad with just one holdover starter from a season ago. Three of their starters left via free agency: Wesley Matthews (Dallas), LaMarcus Aldridge (San Antonio), and Robin Lopez (New York); while one was traded to the Charlotte Hornets, Nicolas Batum, in exchange for Gerald Henderson and Noah Vonleh.
The Blazers will likely go with a starting lineup of Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Al-Faroq Aminu, Meyers Leonard, and Mason Plumlee. The Wolves will likely counter with the lineup they've used the past two games: Ricky Rubio, Andrew Wiggins, Tayshaun Prince, Kevin Garnett, and Karl-Anthony Towns.
The individual matchups to watch will certainly come from the backcourt. The Wolves need to limit Damian Lillard if they want to win this game and they'll task Ricky Rubio with keeping him in check. Rubio is a great defender which should make for a compelling matchup. Andrew Wiggins will likely be guarded by Al-Faroq Aminu for the majority of the night. Aminu is one of Portland's best and most versatile defenders, and it is highly unlikely that they'll task C.J. McCollum with guarding the much bigger Wiggins.
The Wolves are 18-8 in home openers. They've won their last 3 as well as 17 of the previous 20 home openers. The Wolves will also be seeking their second 3-0 start in three seasons.
The Wolves will be wearing the commemorative patches on their uniforms starting tonight, honoring Flip Saunders. This is in addition to shooting shirts they are wearing for the month of November.
If the Wolves want to snag another victory and remain undefeated, they could use another big game from their rookie phenom Karl-Anthony Towns. Towns is coming off a 28-point, 14-rebound, 4-block outing in Minnesota's 95-78 win in Denver on Friday; preceded by a 14-point, 12-rebound night at Staples Center in a 112-111 victory last Wednesday. Towns is the first teenage rookie to debut with back-to-back double-doubles. That being said he has yet to matchup with a good defensive center, and tonight is another game against a mediocre interior defender: Plumlee (& Chris Kaman off the bench).
Tipoff is set for 7pmCT from the Target Center in what will be an emotional home opener for these Minnesota Timberwolves. Enjoy the game and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!