The Minnesota Timberwolves are looking to bounce back after a controversial end to their last outing. The Wolves dropped below .500 yet again after Monday's loss to the Dallas Mavericks that ended on a controversial no-call that would've allowed Kevin Love to go to the line for two free throws to send the game to overtime.
The League has admitted their mistake, though that really doesn't mean anything at all. The Wolves still lost and if that comes back to bite them in April when their vying for a playoff spot, it will make that no-call all the more painful.
For now, it's in the past and we're moving on to tonight's matchup with the New Orleans Pelicans (the first of the year and thus the first since the name change).
The Pelicans didn't just change their name this offseason, they also made a big splash in the NBA Draft and it wasn't with who they drafted. The Pelicans traded their #6 selection (Nerlens Noel) and a 2014 first-round pick to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for point guard Jrue Holiday. They also signed swingman Tyreke Evans. That gives them a very good young core of Holiday, Eric Gordon, Evans & Anthony Davis.
This is a team with plenty of talent, though they may not get it all together this season to return to the playoffs. Their lack of depth at center is also a concern for this young squad. They're currently relying on former Wolf Greg Stiemsma (who you likely all know, I did NOT like during his time here) and Jason Smith.
The Pelicans also lost Anthony Davis for a short time after he fractured his hand. The original timetable was 4-6 weeks and he returned after missing just 7 games. Davis will likely be tasked with defending Kevin Love, which should leave a player like Stiemsma or Smith on Nikola Peković. In those matchups it's pretty clear that Pek has the physicality advantage and could be in for a very big game. Remember: last season Pek set a career-high with 31 points vs. the then Hornets (he of course broke that early this season with 34). I'm expecting big things from Pek tonight.
The matchup I'm most excited for is Anthony Davis vs. Kevin Love. Two power forwards who play the game very differently. Love is improving on defense, but will never been known as a lockdown defender. Davis has all the physical tools to be known as just that and should very well be a Top 5 player in this League within the next few years. Love is a Top 5 player in the League right now and is currently second in the NBA in scoring and first in rebounds. While he continues to put up some incredibly impressive statistics, the Wolves as a team have struggled to parlayed those performances into wins.
Davis' offense will be a concern that the Wolves will have to find a way to deal with, but the biggest problem on defense will be defending Holiday, Gordon & Evans. The Wolves are a notoriously poor perimeter defensive squad. If they allow these highly capable scoring guards to go off tonight, they're going to struggle mightily to come out victorious.
Tipoff tonight is set for 7pmCST from the Target Center. Enjoy the game, thanks for reading and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!