The Minnesota Timberwolves will begin a three-game road trip on Tuesday night when they take on the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena.
The Warriors are looking for the series sweep as they've won all three prior meetings this season. Beyond those three straight wins, the Warriors have won five-straight vs. the Timberwolves.
The Warriors are looking to lock up a postseason berth. They had a chance to do so on Sunday night, but fell to the Utah Jazz 90-97. Golden State can lock up that berth by sweeping the season series vs. Minnesota tonight and having the New Orleans Hornets defeat the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Timberwolves are 29-47 on the year and will miss the playoffs for a ninth consecutive season. The Wolves do have a bit of momentum, however. Minnesota is 4-1 in their last five games (with the one loss coming vs. Toronto on Friday: 93-95) and 6-4 in their last ten games. During that 10-game stretch the Wolves have scored at least 107 points in five of those!
A big part of Minnesota's success has been contributions from a number of players...
Nikola Pekovic earned himself Western Conference Player of the Week honors for April 1-7. During that time he averaged 25ppg & 8.5rpg on 59% FG while the Wolves went 3-1. Nikola is also averaging 22.7ppg & 11.1rpg in his last seven games. Pek has scored a combined 38 points in two games vs. the Warriors this season, after missing the first meeting on Nov. 16th at the Target Center with an ankle sprain. I was at that game and unfortunately had to watch Greg Stiemsma as the starting center.
Ricky Rubio struggles with turnovers as evident by his 8 turnover night in Milwaukee last week. Despite that his all-around game is incredible. The way Rubio is able to 'stuff the stat sheet' night after night is just crazy. Some nights, you look at the box score after a game and just shake your head.
Andrei Kirilenko & Dante Cunningham are two of the Wolves' most versatile defenders. They've also both stepped up their offensive output recently.
The Wolves are going to need big games from these guys if they hope to walk away with their first W over Golden State this season.
The Wolves are seeking a fourth-straight road victory. Doing so would be the first such streak since Jan. 3-19 2009.
If the Wolves can come away with a victory in this one, they can 'put a wrench' in Golden State's plans. You know the Warriors are chalking this one up as a W, because they desperately need it. Golden State is currently the 6th seed in the Western Conference but sit just one game ahead of the #7 Houston Rockets and three-and-a-half games ahead of the #8 Utah Jazz. The Rockets will be facing the Phoenix Suns tomorrow and there's a very good chance they'll come away victorious. Assuming it comes down to a tie for the #6 seed, the Rockets hold the tiebreaker because they've gone 3-1 vs. GSW this season. That becomes very important because the #7 & #8 seeds will have to face the San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder! Whereas the #6 seed will face either the Denver Nuggets or Memphis Grizzlies.
Besides Pekovic winning Western Confernce Player of the Week yesterday, that wasn't the only big Wolves news that broke. Late Monday night, it was announced that Kevin Love would be undergoing season-ending knee surgery. Love's return was delayed by the knee problem and now he's undergoing surgery to remove some scar tissue in there. Recovery time is 4-6 weeks and he'll be back to full speed by early June and have all summer to get his body right. Brandon Roy (knees) and Malcolm Lee (knee/hip) are also out for the year and won't play in this one.
The Warriors are without just one player: Brandon Rush. Rush tore his ACL early this season and he'll likely be back by training camp this fall.
Let's take a look at tonight's probable starting lineups...
If I'm not mistaken this will be the Wolves' first chance to see Andrew Bogut in a Warriors uniform. He's missed the previous three meetings this season with ankle & back problems. It should be a very good battle down low between him & the red-hot Nikola Pekovic.
Ricky Rubio vs. Stephen Curry should be fun as well. Curry has had a great season and has been an intergral part of Golden State's stellar season that'll see them postseason bound.
You look at this Warriors squad with guys like Curry, Lee, Landry & Jack. You realize that a fully healthy Minnesota Timberwolves team is a superior squad and the Wolves could be 44-33 this season and playoff-bound.
Tipoff for this one is set for 9:30pmCT, enjoy the game, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!