The Minnesota Timberwolves continue their stretch of five games in seven days tonight vs. Kevin Garnett and the Brooklyn Nets.
The Nets made some major moves this offseason highlighted by the trade that sent Paul Pierce, Jason Terry & Kevin Garnett to town. The Nets also signed versatile swingman Andrei Kirilenko as well as fellow free agents Shaun Livingston & Alan Anderson. Brooklyn also selected big man Mason Plumlee in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft. The biggest move of the offseason may have been their selection of a new head coach. The Nets selected Jason Kidd as their new head coach. That came less than two weeks after Kidd announced his retirement from the NBA.
Kidd & these Nets haven't lived up to expectations, but they haven't hit the panic button, quite yet. The Brooklyn front office says that Kidd isn't in danger of being fired--they've invested in him and this team and they aren't going to make any rash decisions.
A big part of Brooklyn's struggles this season have been injuries. Minnesota won't be sympathetic in the least after a disastrous and injury-plagued 2012-13 campaign.
The Nets will be without Deron Williams. He re-injured his left ankle in the second quarter of Brooklyn's 95-91 loss in Charlotte on Wednesday. The injury had forced him to miss the previous two games with this injury, as well. Brook Lopez is dealing with a sore ankle and will miss his fourth-straight game, Lopez is his leading scorer at 20.5 points per game and Brooklyn's interior presence on both ends of the floor has suffered as a result of his absence. Jason Terry is dealing with a bruised left knee and will be held out of this game as a precaution. Former Wolf Andrei Kirilenko has missed more games than he's played this season as he deals with the back spasms that kept him out for long stretches last season with Minnesota. Kirilenko has been out for the last seven games now.
The Wolves will continue to be without Chase Budinger (knee) and Ronny Turiaf (elbow). It sounds as though Turiaf may return in early December and Chase's return date sounds like early-2014. Shabazz Muhammad hasn't suited up the past four games due to an ankle injury, but even if he does...he won't play anyway.
Andrei Kirilenko left the Wolves this summer after one season and he also left over $10million on the table. Rumors were that after he opted out of that $10million player option, that Flip Saunders made him an offer that would have paid him roughly $7million annually over three years. AK reportedly turned that down to sign a two-year deal with the Nets worth roughly $3million annually (the second year being a player option). Kirilenko said after he signed the deal in Brooklyn, it was for a chance to play for a winning team--as it was a tough season in Minnesota, not winning and playing for no reason. I was a BIG fan of Kirilenko during his season here, I REALLY enjoyed watching him play and it really was too bad that the Wolves didn't have a healthy team to put on the floor with him Rubio & Pek, because I think they could have been quite good. However I definitely lost some respect for AK after reading that and I can't help to think that with Brooklyn as one of the East's worst teams and Minnesota having their best season in a long while...perhaps that's karma for ya! In reality, I do wish him the best and I hope this Brooklyn squad can turn things around...just not tonight!
The Wolves are 7-6 this season, 5-2 at home, 4-2 vs. the Eastern Conference and losers of their two outings. The Nets are 3-8 vs. the Nets, 1-6 on the road, 2-3 vs. the Western Conference, losers of their last three outings and six of their last seven!
The Wolves are coming off another disappointing loss to the Clippers on Wednesday night. Kevin Love finished with just 10 points on 2-of-14 shooting along with 12 rebounds and 8 assists. It was undoubtedly Love's worst offensive outing of the season and he definitely looked frustrated. Kevin Martin was coming off his worst game of the year the night before, but put up 28 points vs. the Clippers in addition to a season-high 10 rebounds for his first double-double since 2009 (and the 9th of his NBA career). Martin is averaging just over 23 points per game this season, but in his last three meetings vs. the Nets he's scored a TOTAL of 23 points.
For the only time this season Kevin Garnett will take the floor at his old stomping grounds--the Target Center in Minneapolis--the place he still refers to as his second home. He had nothing but praise for this Wolves team before tonight's game. I'm definitely looking forward to the Timberwolves' greatest player taking the court against his former squad.
Let's take a look at tonight's probable starting lineup...
Without two of their starters, the Nets will be relying heavily on Johnson, Pierce & Garnett. Andray Blatche has been good starting alongside Garnett in the post, but he'll most certainly have his hands full tonight with Pek.
The Wolves need to look to take advantage of their advantage down low. The Nets have been porous in the paint on defense without Brook Lopez and with Nikola Peković coming off a GREAT outing vs. the Clippers, I don't doubt we'll see more of that tonight vs. the Brooklyn bigs.
The key will be containing Brooklyn's two 6'7" swingmen: Pierce & Johnson. It will be interesting to see who Adelman has Brewer match up against to start the game, because both of these guys are the same size and versatile scorers, I also wonder if Rick will decide to start Rubio on the other and have Martin guard Livingston. It's a possibility, though Livingston is enjoying his career revival in Brooklyn and playing some pretty good basketball filling in for Deron Williams. Livingston himself is also 6'7", which means the Brooklyn starters are 6-7, 6-7, 6-7, 6-11, 6-11 (though we all know Garnett is over 7-feet tall).
Tipoff is set for 7pmCT from the Target Center, enjoy the game and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!