UPDATE (3/12 @1:15pmCT): Tim Duncan & Kawhi Leonard are both dealing with sore left knees and did not make the trip to Minnesota. Expect Diaw to get the start at power forward and either Stephen Jackson at small forward or they'll slide Danny Green to the three and start one of their smaller guards or even Manu Ginobli. Both Andrei Kirilenko & Nikola Pekovic have been ruled out for the next two games (tonight & Wednesday).
The Minnesota Timberwolves will begin another back-to-back set on Tuesday night when they face the San Antonio Spurs at the Target Center.
They'll be facing a Spurs squad that is without their star point guard, Tony Parker. Tony is currently dealing with an ankle injury, the original prognosis had him out for four weeks and through the first week without him, the Spurs have looked as dangerous as ever. The Spurs have some VERY good depth as evidenced by their win last night. The Spurs faced the hot Oklahoma City Thunder and promptly snapped their five-game winning streak. The final was a 105-93 Spurs win. Tiago Splitter finished with 21pts, 10 reb, 3ast, 1blk; Kawhi Leonard added 17pts, 4reb, 1ast & 3stls; and Danny Green contributed 16pts, 1reb, 5ast & 3stls.
This will be the third of four meetings this season. These two teams will meet one last time in San Antonio for the Wolves' last game on April 17th. In the previous two meetings, the Spurs easily dispatched the Wolves, thanks in large part to Tony Parker. In the first meeting (1/13 in SA) Parker led the way with 20 points as the Spurs cruised to an 88-106 victory. The second encounter came on February 6th at the Target Center. Tony finished with 31 and Danny Green added a career-high 28 points (as he went 8-for-12 from downtown) as the Spurs won 94-104.
Chances aren't good that they Wolves are going to be scoring 94 points in this one. The Wolves offense has been terrible lately as they've dropped 7 of their last 8 games. In the last seven games the Wolves are shooting 39.2% from the field.
A big part of Minnesota's poor offense has been the absence of Andre Kirilenko (calf) and Nikola Pekovic (abdomen). Both are expecting to return this week, but it's sounding unlikely it'll be tonight vs. the Spurs. The Wolves didn't practice today and as such, it's unlikely that either will suit up. They're two of six total injured players. Kevin Love (hand) and Chase Budinger (knee) continue to remain out, but the more I hear, the more it sounds like a return to the court is on the horizon. Both players are hoping to get the okay to participate in full-contact practices this week! Brandon Roy (knees) is still out and Malcolm Lee (knee/hip) continues to rehab from his January surgeries.
The Spurs are without Tony Parker (ankle). Beyond that, they have a full roster and one with a lot of great depth. You can see their starting lineup below and they're still able to bring guys like Manu Ginobli, Stephen Jackson, Matt Bonner, Boris Diaw and Gary Neal off the bench.
This season has been rough...to say the least. As of last night the Wolves have the fewest wins in the Western Conference with 21. Phoenix, New Orleans & Sacramento all have 22 wins. With that, the Wolves are just 1.5 games out of the 15th (last) spot in the Western Conference. Chances are good that the Spurs don't have to worry about any kind of 'upset' in this one. San Antonio has won 19 of the last 21 meetings vs. the Wolves.
Let's take a look at the top performers...
Obviously if Kirilenko (13.1P, 6R, 2.9A, 1.6S, 1.1B) and/or Pekovic (15.9P, 8.8R, 0.9B) is able to play, they'll start in this one in place of Gelabale & Stiemsma. I'd be great to have them back, but even with them, the Spurs are one of the best teams in basketball right now (just behind the red-hot Miami Heat).
I have a prior engagement to attend to tomorrow and I won't be able to watch this one. I may catch a few minutes, but I'll still have a full gameday recap by tomorrow morning! Tipoff for this one is set for 7pmCT, enjoy the game, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!