The last time these two teams met, the Minnesota Timberwolves found themselves down by 23 points early in the third quarter and the Wolves seemed to be on their way to a humiliating loss. Then the Wolves sparked a won that saw that lead diminish and inevitably resulted in an 11-point Minnesota win.
The Wolves were playing without Kevin Love & Ricky Rubio then and still found a win over one of the Eastern Conference's better teams. Now, the Wolves have Ricky back and in addition to Love (hand) have lost Chase Budinger (knee), Brandon Roy (knees) and Malcolm Lee (knee/hip). Nikola Pekovic (thigh) and Alexey Shved (ankle) have missed the last two games. Both will miss tonight's game, but it sounds like they could return this weekend.
The Nets don't have any significant injuries, but they recently sent a duo to the D-League: rookie point guard Tyshawn Taylor and rookie forward Tornike Shengalia. Both were recently sent down for a D-League assignment. Brooklyn also had Damion James signed to a 10-day contract that recently expired, they declined to give him another and he returned to the D-League.
The Nets have one of the NBA's 'better rosters', unfortunately the majority of their 'stars' are underachieving. Beyond Brook Lopez, who has been playing quite well, Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries have all struggled to perform at a high level with any kind of consistency leading the Nets to a 25-16 record on the year and the dismissal of Avery Johnson as their head coach just one month after he was named the Eastern Conference Coach of the Month.
The Nets are currently a .500 team on the road (9-9), while Minnesota has gone 11-6 at the Target Center this year. Unfortunately the Wolves are meeting the Nets during a hot streak as they've won 11 of their last 13 games, including 9-1 in their last ten. The Wolves are on the 'other end of the spectrum' as losers of six of their last seven games as well as 5-12 in their last seventeen.
Historically the Nets have struggled at the Target Center, going 4-17 all-time in Minnesota. The Nets have lost two in a row to the Wolves including 6 of 7 overall.
The Nets' last game came against their rivals: the New York Knicks. Joe Johnson nailed a go-ahead jumper with 22 seconds to play to seal a Nets win. JJ finished the night w/25pts, 3reb, 5ast, 1stl; Williams added 14pts, 5reb, 12ast and Brook Lopez contributed 14pts, 11reb, 1ast & 4blks.
Let's take a look at tonight's likely starters...
Luke Ridnour was completely overmatched in Monday's game vs. the Hawks, matched up against Kyle Korver as Luke was consistently pinned on picks that found KK wide open for a deep three. His matchup with Joe Johnson is QUITE concerning, especially considering how much of Joe's game revolves around breaking down his man on the isolation. The only chance Luke will have is denying JJ the ball as much as possible. Hopefully, if Luke struggles early on D, Porter won't hesitate to play Gelabale big minutes in this one.
My other main concern is rebounding. The Wolves are without their two best rebounders (Love & Pek) and they've struggled these past two games w/o Nikola. Kirilenko, Williams, Cunningham and Stiemsma all need to make a MUCH more concerted effort on the boards.
I wouldn't count out a big night from an unlikely player tonight. It may sound silly, but I'm thinking a guy like Gelabale having a great offensive night or Rubio finally finding his shot and his confidence.
That's all for now, tipoff is set for 7pmCT, enjoy the game and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!