The Minnesota Timberwolves begin a season-high six-game homestand on Wednesday night when they face the Los Angeles Clippers at the Target Center.
The Wolves will be getting a MUCH NEEDED boost on Wednesday night, as well. They'll have a trio returning. Nikola Pekovic and Alexey Shved have missed the last five games and will be playing in their first game since going down with injuries in the Jan. 17th game vs. the...Clippers! The Wolves have also been without their head coach Rick Adelman for the past eleven games. During that time, under acting head coach Terry Porter, the Wolves went 2-9.
While the Wolves begin a season-long homestand, the Clippers are going on a season-high road trip, tonight's game at the Target Center is the first of eight total games. The Clippers have struggled on the road lately and hopefully that will continue tonight as they look to avoid a fourth straight road loss.
Without their star point guard (Chris Paul) the Clippers have had stretches of games both good and bad. Blake Griffin has stepped up in Paul's absence and luckily the Clippers are armed with one of the NBA's best 'benches'. In seven starts without CP3, Eric Bledsoe is averaging 11.9ppg, 5.6rpg and 4agp.
This will be the third meeting of these two teams this season, with the Clippers taking the first two, LAC has also won four of the last five games at the Target Center.
Not only do the Wolves get back Adelman, Shved & Pekovic; they also resigned Mickael Gelabale and Chris Johnson to their second 10-day contracts of the season on Tuesday afternoon. Adelman talked about how surprisingly great they've been and he's particularly excited about getting Chris Johnson and Nikola Pekovic on the floor at the same time! I'm VERY excited to see that, myself!
The Wolves will continue to be without their quartet of injured players: Kevin Love (hand), Chase Budinger (knee), Brandon Roy (knees) and Malcolm Lee (knee/hip).
The Clippers will likely be without three of their players: Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups and Trey Thompkins. Thompkins is 'out indefinitely' with a bone bruise in his knee; Billups has been out for the majority of the season with a foot problem, though he did start participating in some contact drills, in practice yesterday; Chris Paul is listed as day-to-day with a knee injury and while he could potentially play, it sounds more than likely he'll miss this one.
The Clippers' last game was against the Portland Trailblazers on Sunday, January 27th. Coming into the game, the Clippers were riding a four-game losing streak. It was a fairly close game until the third quarter, when the Blazers were held to just 12 points, which doomed POR as the Clippers rolled to a 96-83W. Blake Griffin finished with 23pts, 5reb, 9ast, 2stls and Eric Bledsoe added 10pts, 5reb, 5ast, 1blk. The Clippers are now 1-4 in their last five games.
Let's take a look at tonight's probable starting lineups in this one...
Rick Adelman talked after yesterday's practice about whether or not he would start Ridnour or Alexey Shved in the backcourt with Rubio. Ultimately it sounded as though he'd keep Luke in the starting lineup for the time being.
I can't tell you how excited I am to have Nikola Pekovic back in the starting lineup, moving Greg Stiemsma to the bench and HOPEFULLY behind Chris Johnson on the depth chart.
With Shved & Pek back, it bolsters a pretty impressive second unit: J.J. Barea, Alexey Shved, Mickael Gelabale, Dante Cunningham and Chris Johnson.
If the Wolves want a win in this one their going to have to contain to of the Clippers' key players in this one: Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford. I have a feeling that we'll see a lot of Dante Cunningham tonight, using Dante's defense to try and limit his effectiveness on O.
For the first time since Pek & Shved went down with injuries, I'm optimistic about the Minnesota Timberwolves. Tipoff is set for 7pmCT, enjoy the game, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!