The Minnesota Timberwolves have spent the past couple days in Mexico City prior to Wednesday night's game vs. the San Antonio Spurs.
Tonight's game in Mexico City is all about expanding the NBA's brand internationally and giving fans who don't live in the States a chance to see a live NBA game. This is the first time the Minnesota Timberwolves have played a game in Mexico City and the fifth time the Spurs have. This is the NBA's 21st game that's has been played 'south of the border' and the first game in the regular season since Dallas squared off against Houston on December 6, 1997.
As if facing off against the defending Western Conference champs that were a Ray Allen three-pointer away from being crowned NBA Champions, the Wolves are playing in some VERY high altitude tonight. Denver is known as the "Mile High because it sits exactly one-mile or 5,280 feet above sea level. Mexico City is 7,943 feet above sea level. Adelman said that he's definitely going to make substitutions quicker and I wouldn't be surprised to see his rotation expand a little bit--may see a few more minutes from guys like Robbie Hummel and/or Gorgui Dieng.
The Wolves and the Spurs play just three games this season. This game in Mexico City counts as a home game for the Wolves and the other two meetings with the Spurs will be in San Antonio. I don't understand why they wouldn't have one of those San Antonio games be in Minnesota...it doesn't seem very fair. These two teams will meet again in just nine days (12/13) in San Antonio and their last meeting will be a month after that (1/12) to round out the season series between these Western Conference foes.
The Timberwolves are 9-10 on the year, 6-3 at home (though this is the equivalent of a road game where they're 3-7), 4-7 vs. the Western Conference and 3-7 in their last ten games. The Timberwolves have lost six of their last seven games. They began the season 5-2, but have dropped 4 of their last 5 games. During that five-game span the Wolves are allowing an average of 109.2 points per game on 51.6% FG & 46.7% 3PT for their opponents. The Spurs are 15-3 on the season, 7-2 on the road, 8-3 vs. the Western Conference and 8-2 in their last ten games. The Spurs are 2-2 in their last four games, prior to that they had won 11-straight and 13 of their first 14 outings.
The Spurs have only allowed three of their eighteen opponents this season score 100 points or more. San Antonio is 1-2 in those games. Their lone win in that set came in their most recent outing. The Spurs defeated the Atlanta Hawks 102-100, Tim Duncan finished with 23 points and a season-high 21 rebounds. Timmy D hit the game-winning jumper with 0.4 seconds to play to secure the W for the Spurs.
The Timberwolves split the season series with the Spurs a season ago. The Wolves dropped the first two meetings, but won the final two. In their most recent meeting (April 17, 2013) the Wolves snapped a 16-game losing streak to the Spurs in San Antonio with a 108-95 win. They also defeated the Spurs in Minnesota on March 12, 2013 in a game that the Spurs were without Tony Parker.
Of course, the Timberwolves were without their superstar Kevin Love for all four meetings last season. In his last seven meetings with the Spurs, Love is averaging 22pts & 17.1reb. One of Minnesota's best players a season ago was Nikola Peković, however the Wolves went 0-2 vs. the Spurs with him and 2-0 without him.
If the Spurs lose tonight, it will be San Antonio's first three-game losing streak to the Wolves since 1997! A big key to that will be Tony Parker. In games where he scores 20 or more vs. the TWolves, the Spurs are a perfect 9-0.
The Wolves will be without Chase Budinger (knee) and Ronny Turiaf (elbow) for this one. Both have made strides over the past couple weeks, the expectation is that they'll both be back before the holidays.
PG: Ricky Rubio (8.7pts, 4.5reb, 8.5ast, 3stls); SG: Kevin Martin (23.2pts, 3.8reb, 2.3ast, 1.1stls); SF: Corey Brewer (14.1pts, 2.5reb, 2stls); PF: Kevin Love (23.7pts, 13.6reb, 4.1ast, 0.8stls); C: Nikola Peković (15.5pts, 8.7reb, 1ast)
San Antonio Spurs
PG: Tony Parker (18.1pts, 2.5reb, 6.4ast); SG: Danny Green (7.8pts, 3.3reb, 1.2stls); SF: Kawhi Leonard (11.2pts, 6.3reb, 2.1stls); PF: Tim Duncan (13.1pts, 8.1reb, 2.9ast, 1.9blks); Tiago Splitter (8.8pts, 6.8reb, 1.1ast)
The Spurs are 2nd in the NBA in defensive rating with 96.4 points allowed per 100 possessions. They've allowed opponents to score an average of 92.1 points per game which is 3rd in the NBA. They don't have a high-octane offense like the Wolves, but they still score an average of 101.9 a game.
The Timberwolves have the 6th & 7th Top scorers in the NBA right now with Love & Martin. The 'Kevins' are the only two teammates in the Top 14 in scoring. The next two are Golden State's starting backcourt of Curry (9th) & Thompson (15th). However, Love has been struggling lately--shooting just 34% from the field in his last four games. They'll need a whole lot more from him if they want to steal this win!
Tonight's game will be about finding a way to score on this defense while slowing down Tony Parker on offense and pressuring San Antonio's bevy of three-point gunners.
That's all for now, tipoff tonight is a late 8:30pmCST from Mexico City, enjoy the game and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!