Setting the stage
The Twolves play their last game of the week tonight against Golden State and are then off until Wednesday, 11/21. The Timberwolves are looking for the return of at least one or two of their injured players – Barea and Pekovic seem more likely to go than Roy. It probably makes sense to leave Roy out of the game and give him even more time to let his knee rest. Of course, the exact opposite argument could be made to say that if he can go he should, given the amount of rest he will have afterward. These are the arguments we’ll be having all season.
Assuming the newly signed Josh Howard passes his physical in the morning, he’ll likely suit up for the Pups as well and provide a little bit more of a spell for AK47, who has been playing way too many minutes over the past week or so. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve needed him to play those minutes, we just need to get the guy some more rest.
The Warriors come to Minnesota off of a win Wednesday night against Atlanta. It is a little bit of a reprieve to host a team that is feeling at least a bit of the injury bug themselves. Andrew Bogut remains on the shelf this season for the Warriors, while Stephen Curry’s ankle is bound to pop at any given moment. Despite that little nuance, Curry is having an OK start to the season, leading the team in scoring (17 ppg) and averaging 5.5 apg and 4.5 rpg. I’ve defined this as “OK” due to the fact that he’s shooting under 40% from the floor. Klay Thompson, Carl Landry, and David Lee are all also having nice starts to the season for the Warriors, who come into the game playing .500 ball at 4-4. One other player to keep an eye on is the rookie, Harrison Barnes. Coming out of nowhere, the rookie put up a 19 and 13 game on Wednesday night in Atlanta in 40 minutes – by far the most minutes he’s received thus far this season.
Golden State comes into the game right around the bottom third of the league in both PPG (21st, 95.4 ppg) and points allowed (19th, 98.1 ppg). The Wolves are currently ranked 2nd in the league in the latter, only allowing 88.5 ppg. Given the injuries, it isn’t too surprising to see the Wolves only averaging 91 ppg as a team, “good” for 24th in the league.
If it were not for all of the major injuries on the Wolves, I don’t think the following would be applicable. However, games like this are very important for the Pups as they will likely be fighting for a playoff spot later on in the year against teams like Golden State. While it is way too early to really think about this in much detail, every little bit will help come Spring.
Player to watch
Malcolm Lee – With the assumption that Brandon Roy doesn’t play Friday night, Lee is going to have to step up and be a net-positive contributor. He’s going to be guarding a much bigger Klay Thompson on the defensive side of the ball and that could be trouble. He’ll also need to be much better on the offensive end of the floor. He’s only shooting 33% from the field and has only made one three pointer all year. Wolf’s fans that have asked for this opportunity for Lee continue to stand by him, but I have not been impressed since he’s taken over as the starting SG for the team.
(If Roy does play, you can insert his name here with similar concerns, with an added watch-out about how he plays and reacts on both ends of the floor, given the soreness he’s feeling in his knee.)
Match-up to watch
Derrick Williams vs. David Lee – DWill is coming off another sub-par performance Wednesday night and comes right back to a tough matchup against Lee. Lee has started the season averaging right around 15 & 10. He’s consistently been an active body around the basket and I would expect more of the same against the Wolves. I really hope that Derrick can turn things around and quickly. As an added watch-out, Lee’s backup is Carl Landry and has been over-performing in his 26 mpg.
The only way the Pups win this one is if Pekovic plays. Assuming that is the case, I think they can squeak this one out.
Final score prediction: Minnesota 95 – Golden State 91
Three stars of the game predictions:
- Andrei Kirilenko
- Nikola Pekovic
- David Lee
Let’s go Wolves!