The Minnesota Timberwolves are looking to avoid a seven-game losing streak (would be their longest of the season) on Wednesday night when the Washington Wizards come to town looking to set a season-high with their second consecutive road win (something they haven't done since the end of the 2011-12 season).
It'll be no easy task however as the Wolves will once again have just nine healthy players. 60% of Minnesota's starting lineup will be watching from the sidelines. Kevin Love is progressing, but still out with that broken hand. Both Nikola Pekovic (strained abdomen) & Andrei Kirilenko (calf strain) have been ruled out for the next three games, starting tonight vs. Washington. Chase Budinger is also progressing and nearing a return, but he's still out as he rehabs that torn lateral meniscus. He did do some on-court shooting in yesterday's practice, which is encouraging. Brandon Roy is still out with his degenerative knees and Malcolm Lee is rehabbing from those hip & knee surgeries that will keep him out for the remainder of the season.
The Washington Wizards continue to be without reserve forward Cartier Martin as he deals with a hyperextended knee. Bradley Beal left Sunday's game vs. the 76ers with an ankle sprain. He could play in this one, but injury reports have him listed as 'doubtful' to play tonight.
With just nine healthy players: Ricky Rubio, J.J. Barea, Luke Ridnour, Alexey Shved, Mickael Gelabale, Derrick Williams, Dante Cunningham, Greg Stiemsma & Chris Johnson; despite playing one of the Eastern Conference's worst teams, it's more than likely they won't walk away winners in this one.
The Timberwolves have added one to the win column since they beat the 76ers back on February 20th. With so many players in and out (mostly out) of the lineup it's no wonder the Wolves haven't been able to develop any kind of consistency.
The Wolves are just 20-37 on the year, 13-15 at home, losers of six-straight and 2-8 in their last 10 games. They also sit at 12th in the Western Conference and are currently just 1.5 games ahead of the 21-41 (15th place) Sacramento Kings. The Washington Wizards also sit in the bottom-half of their conference. The Wiz are 19-39 on the year, 5-22 on the road and 6-4 in their last 10 games. They're almost definitely out of the playoff race as they currently sit 11 games behind the 8th place 30-28 Milwaukee Bucks.
Historically the Washington Wizards have struggled playing at the Target Center. They've lost two-straight in Minnesota and 9 of their last 11 games. With just 5 wins in 27 tries away from Verizon Center this season, hopefully the Wolves can make that play into their advantage.
This is the second of two meetings this season as the Wolves fell to the Wizards back on January 25th at the Verizon Center. It was a 114-101 final, the Wiz were led by John Wall (14pts & 5ast) & Bradley Beal (16pts & 4blks). The Wizards also shot 57.8% from the field in that win.
Let's take a look at each team's probable starting lineup in this one...
Obviously if Bradley Beal (14.2P, 3.7R, 2.5A) is able to play, he'll be starting with John Wall in the backcourt, if not, it's likely Trevor Ariza gets the nod--or perhaps Garrett Temple.
Derrick Williams has been quite good these past few games. DWill is averaging 21.4 points a game & 10 rebounds a game over the last five. With no Pekovic & no Kirilenko, I wouldn't be surprised if Williams struggles in this one against the back frontcourt of Nene & Okafor.
Tonight's game also marks Martell Webster's return to the Target Center. After spending two injury-riddled seasons in Minnesota, Webster's contract was bought out this past offseason and he signed a one-year veteran's minimum deal with the Wizards. He began the year as a reserve swingman off the bench, but has emerged as the Wizards starting small forward, winning the position battle over Trevor Ariza. This will be his first time since he was a Trailblazer that he'll visit the Target Center as a visitor.
Tonight's game will tip at 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!