The Minnesota Timberwolves travel to Washington D.C. on Tuesday night to take on the Wizards at the Verizon Center. Both teams last played on Saturday night, but with different results for each squad.
The Timberwolves won their last contest by easily defeating the rebuilding Boston Celtics in which the Wolves got great offensive production from the "Big Three" of Kevin Martin, Kevin Love & Nikola Pekovic each of whom scored 20+.
The Wizards are coming off an overtime loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in which Kyrie Irving exploded for 41 points (9 of which came in overtime). The Wizards were led by Bradley Beal who finished with 28pts, 4reb, 1ast & 2stls. Washington's best player is undoubtedly John Wall, but he struggled in this most recent game, finishing with just 9pts on 3-for-13 shooting & 0-for-4 from deep.
The Timberwolves will be looking to build off this most recent win, while the Wizards are desperate to turn things around.
Washington was without John Wall to begin the 2012-13 season as he recovered from knee surgery. The team played horribly to start the year and that big hole they dug themselves was unfortunately too large to dig out of once Wall returned and they began to play better. Now, the Wizards are mostly healthy (Trevor Ariza & Otto Porter are both currently out) and yet with a core of Wall, Beal, Nene & most recently Gortat should have a better record than 2-7.
If things continue to go South in D.C. I doubt that Randy Wittman holds down his head coaching job and if things really get bad, the Wizards may look to make some trades. Washington made the trade to send the injured Emeka Okafor and a first-round pick to Phoenix in exchange for Gortat, Kendall Marshall & Shannon Brown (they waived Marshall & Brown shortly after acquiring them).
Strangely enough the trade has worked out better for Phoenix. The Suns are off to a decent start considering their personnel and their defense has improved without Gortat. In Washington, they've gotten worse and their defense is actually worse now that Gortat is in the fold. I don't know if it's entirely Gortat's fault--I have yet to watch the Wizards play this season.
The Timberwolves enter tonight at 7-4 on the year, 2-3 on the road and 4-1 vs. the Eastern Conference. The Wizards are 2-7 on the season, 1-3 at home, 0-2 vs. the Western Conference and losers of five-straight.
The Wolves will be without Chase Budinger (knee) and Ronny Turiaf (elbow). Shabazz Muhammad hasn't suited up the past couple games due to a sprained ankle, but he did participate in practice on Monday and is expected to be in uniform for this one. Updates on Bud & Turiaf can be found in our Injury Report.
The Wizards will be without rookie Otto Porter Jr. (knee)--he has yet to make his NBA debut and it's unknown when he'll return to the court. Forwards Chris Singleton (foot), Trevor Ariza (hamstring) and Al Harrington (knee) all sat out Washington's most recent game, too.
Let's take a look at the probable starters for this one...
As always the battle between Gortat & Peković in the paint should be a terrific one. In season's past Pek usually has the upper hand as he's a bit more physical--though Gortat holds the defensive edge. The big key in this one will be containing the Wall-Beal backcourt, they're undoubtedly Washington's best players and they're relied upon for a lot of their offense.
Ricky Rubio has struggled offensively the past couple games. In his past two games he's scored a total of 3 points on 1-of-10 shooting. The Wolves have others to pick up the slack offensively, but Ricky being a scorer in addition to his gritty perimeter defense and playmaking skills--makes the Wolves a much more dangerous squad.
Tonight's game is an early 6pmCT start, enjoy the game and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!