The Minnesota Timberwolves have gotten hot recently as they've easily dispatched their last three Eastern Conference matchups. Minnesota has also gone 5-3 in their last 8 games. With their most recent win in Milwaukee on Wednesday, Rick Adelman now sits at 999 career wins.
A win tonight would make Rick just the eighth coach in NBA history to join the 1000 club. The other seven include: Don Nelson, Lenny Wilkens, Pat Riley, Jerry Sloan, Phil Jackson, Larry Brown and George Karl.
The Wolves have grabbed wins over the Pistons (3/26), Celtics (4/1) and Bucks (4/3) to go 3-0 vs. their last three Eastern Conference matchups. Tonight they're facing a Toronto squad that has beaten them in fifteen of the last sixteen meetings.
This is the second of two meetings this season. The first came in Toronto on November 4th. It was Minnesota's second game of the season. Will Conroy & Lou Amundson were still on the team and Brandon Roy started at shooting guard. The Wolves lost 86-105. Kirilenko had 17pts, 6reb, 3ast, 1stl & 3blks while Pek added 15pts. Kyle Lowry finished with 22pts, 7reb, 5ast & 3stls; DeMar DeRozan finished with 22pts, 7reb, 2ast & 3stls; Alan Anderson added 18pts off the bench.
The Wolves are currently 28-46 on the year, 18-19 at home, are winners in back-to-back games and 5-5 in their last ten games. The Raptors are 28-47, 10-27 on the road and 3-7 in their last ten games.
If the Wolves hope to continue their recent hot streak they'll continue to need big production from Nikola Pekovic & Ricky Rubio. They've delivered this past week-and-a-half and there's no reason to think that won't continue tonight. Pekovic's last three games look like this: vs. OKC, 22pts/15reb; vs. BOS, 29pts/5reb; @MIL, 27pts/8reb. Ricky Rubio is coming off another near triple double on Wednesday. He set new career-highs in three-pointers made (5), attempted (6) and steals (8), finishing with 19pts, 4reb, 12ast & 8stls.
The Wolves will be without Kevin Love (hand), Brandon Roy (knees) & Malcolm Lee (knee/hip). While Toronto will be playing without Andrea Bargnani (elbow) & Linas Kleiza (knee). Rudy Gay did injure his ankle on Wednesday, which limited him to 26 minutes, but it's more than likely he plays in this one.
Let's take a look at tonight's probable starting lineups...
Valanciunas is averaging 18.4ppg & 9.4rpg in his last five games which included a career-high 24pts in an 88-78 win over Washington on Wednesday. I have very serious doubts that, that hot streak will continue against Nikola Pekovic and the Minnesota Timberwolves. Nikola comes in with a very, very physical advantage and 60+ pounds on the Lithuanian rookie.
I'm most excited to see Kirilenko shut down Gay (assuming he plays) and the matchup at point guard between two guards with a wide range of skills.
Tipoff is set for 7pmCT from the Target Center, enjoy the game, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!