The Minnesota Timberwolves continue their West coast road trip with their next stop in Oakland California. The Wolves come to the Bay losers of four-straight. They'll be facing an opponent they faced just one week (and a day) ago: the Golden State Warriors.
The TWolves are 5-6 on the season and they'll be facing the 7-6 Warriors. Both of these teams played on Friday night and both suffered losses to Western Conference opponents. The TWolves suffered an 8-point loss to Northwest division rivals: the Portland Trailblazers. The Warriors were at the Pepsi Center, facing the Nuggets and lost by 11.
The TWolves did face the Warriors just a week ago, however a much different Wolves squad is coming to Oakland. They have three of their best players back on the active roster. Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic and J.J. Barea are all back, but the Wolves have been unable to snap this skid that started with a loss to the lowly Bobcats (and included losses to the Warriors, Nuggets & Blazers).
The TWolves will still be without Ricky Rubio who continues to rehab from knee surgery, as well as Brandon Roy and Chase Budinger who are both coming off knee surgeries.
The Warriors will again be without their big man Andrew Bogut (who continues to rehab a sprained ankle) and Brandon Rush (who's out for the season with a torn ACL). Richard Jefferson missed his third-straight game with a calf strain and will likely be a gametime decision for this one. Klay Thompson had been dealing with an eye injury, but did play in Friday's loss to the Nuggets.
The Wolves advantage will lie in the frontcourt with David Lee vs. Kevin Love & Festus Ezeli vs. Nikola Pekovic. Like the game in Portland, the Wolves will have to worry about a MUCH better backcourt. Stephen Curry & Klay Thompson is a much better backcourt than Luke Ridnour & Malcolm Lee.
The Wolves will need much more from their bench as well. These past two games (since Love has returned) the bench hasn't looked so good. Guys like Dante Cunningham, J.J. Barea, Alexey Shved and Josh Howard will need to have better games (on the offensive end). Minnesota also needs to figure out their pecking order. Kevin Love will be taking the majority of the shots, but they also need to have possessions that involve Nikola Pekovic, Andrei Kirilenko, Alexey Shved, Luke Ridnour, etc.
Let's take a look at the probable starting lineups for this one...
It's important that the Wolves get to work on that advantage in the paint and pray that Curry & Thompson can be contained.
I've been overly optimistic these past two games. I expected (with Love playing) that they could beat the Nuggets on Wednesday. Then the matchup with Portland on Friday, I assumed our bench production alone would dominate the Blazers. Both games the Wolves were up by double-digits and blew first half leads for a 7 or 8 point loss.
So, I won't say I assume the Warriors are going to win, I'm just going into this one with some VERY guarded optimism.
That's all for now, this one tips at 9:30pmCT and a full gameday recap can be found on this site following the final horn. Thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!