The Minnesota Timberwolves continue their six-game homestand with their fifth of those games, vs. the San Antonio Spurs. The Wolves will conclude the homestand with a game vs. the Knicks on Friday night. The Wolves are currently 1-3 during this time and things don't get any easier with the Spurs, tonight.
The San Antonio Spurs have rattled off 10-straight wins en-route to the League's best record at 38-11. The Spurs are holding their opponents to 90.8ppg during this winning streak and there's little to no optimism that the Wolves will be able to stop the NBA's best team. Tony Parker has been on a tear as of late. Over the last five games he's averaging 23.8ppg on 65.8% FG & 9.8apg.
This is the second meeting between these two teams this season. They met in San Antonio on Jan. 11th where the Spurs defeated the Wolves 106-88. Tony Parker had 20pts, Duncan added 12pts, 9reb, 5ast, 3stls & a season-high 7blks. The Wolves were led by J.J. Barea who finished with 15pts & 6ast; Pek added 14pts, 2reb & 2blks. The Wolves were outscored 38-51 in the second half that led to the loss.
The Spurs are looking for their 19th win over the Wolves in their last 21 meetings (the Wolves did win two games last season). There may be one saving grace for the Wolves that could see them end the Spurs' big winning streak.
Two of the San Antonio Spurs' best players may very well be out for this one. Tim Duncan took a nasty spill in San Antonio's last game vs. the Wizards. All the tests came back negative and he's currently diagnosed with a sore knee and an ankle sprain. Manu Ginobli is dealing with a hamstring injury, that he says he's still feeling tightness in. It was an injury he initially suffered in the last meeting between these two teams back on Jan. 11th.
The Minnesota Timberwolves may be without one of their key players as well. Beyond Kevin Love (hand), Chase Budinger (knee), Brandon Roy (knees) and Malcolm Lee (knee/hip); the Wolves are likely to be without their starting small forward, Andrei Kirilenko in this one. AK suffered a quad injury during the Wolves' loss to the Trailblazers on Monday. He's currently listed as questionable, but I wouldn't expect to see him play tonight.
That doesn't mean Kirilenko won't be on the court, however. AK was recently awarded the Euroscar, which is for the best European Player of the Year (in the world). The award was voted on by players, coaches and sportswriters in 14 different countries. Some former winners include: six-time winner Dirk Nowitzki, three-time winner Pau Gasol, Tony Parker and Peja Stojakovic. Andrei will be presented the award prior to tipoff in this one.
Let's take a look at tonight's potential starting lineups...
If Tim Duncan is indeed out, the Wolves have to look to Nikola Pekovic early. Tiago Splitter has good size and a good skill set as an NBA center, but he can't match up physically with Pek. Who can?! With AK out, the Wolves will need a breakout game from Gelly. Being that Mickael is the only healthy small forward on the roster, don't be surprised if he plays some big minutes tonight. Adelman will definitely use Dante, Derrick & Alexey at the 3 as well.
With AK out, we may get to see more of Adelman's three guard lineups. With a combination of Rubio, Luke or Barea at the point guard and shooting guard spots and Alexey Shved at small forward. It'll be dictated heavily on who the Spurs trot out there, but we'll definitely see that lineup more than once tonight.
With Duncan & Manu both potentially out for this one, Tony Parker will be asked to do a lot in this one. He's been stellar these past five games, hopefully Ricky Rubio & Co. can slow him down. Rubio is pretty good at keeping his man in front of him, which is very important when guarding the slashing TP, but when Tony drives the lane it's vital for the Minnesota bigs to step in and take a charge, alter a shot, force a pass or give some defensive pressure.
This one tips at 7pmCT from the Target Center, enjoy the game, thanks for reading HOWL; GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!