Setting the stage:
The Pups are coming into Monday’s game with a four game winning streak and have two very tough games after Monday’s matchup against the Magic (@ Miami and then home vs. OKC). Hopefully, they do not underestimate the Magic who are clearly rebuilding but playing much better than many expected, with a 10-12 record on the year and winner’s of their last two.
The two teams that joined the NBA in 1989 met at the beginning of the season, with the Wolves hammering the Magic 90-75 at the Target Center. The Magic continue to be led by Arron Afflalo and Big Baby Davis. Jameer Nelson and JJ Redick also help lead the charge for the overachieving roster. If you look beyond these four players, you see a lot of question marks and a few “Who?”’s. Sorry Orlando. The Magic are near the bottom of the league (26th) in PPG at 92.6 but this is by design, slowing the game down and trying to grind it out.
In case you missed my weekend drooling, Ricky Rubio returned to the Pups lineup on Saturday night and provided the needed spark to improve the team’s current win streak against Dallas in OT. Nikola Pekovic continued his strong play over the past few games and Team Russia continues to highlight the team continuity that is growing on the court. While Kevin Love sat out Saturday’s game with the flu, we should expect to see him back on the court on Monday.
Player to watch:
Kevin Love – It will be interesting to see how Love performs on Monday night given not only Rubio’s performance on Saturday night, but the reception he received from the Target Center. Love has been terribly “off”, shooting the ball at a 31.6% clip from the field and 65.1% from the FT line in the month of December. The Yahoo! article certainly didn’t help matters and we’ll see how Love can respond with a few days rest given his absence from Saturday’s game. The matchup against Glen Davis should provide a boost, unless Love lets Big Baby get underneath his skin. (I can’t think of too many other players – beyond the entire Spurs roster (boom!) – that complain to the refs as much as these two PF’s do.
Match-up to watch:
Ricky Rubio vs. Jameer Nelson. It has been documented all season thus far; the Pups have given up huge offensive games to opposing PG’s more often than not. The return of Rubio should help end this trend over the next few weeks. It would be a good time to start on Monday night, given the lack of firepower the Magic display down on the block.
The Wolves will avoid overlooking the Magic and move the win streak to five games! They have been scoring more in the past week and will continue to do so on Monday.
Final score prediction: Twolves 106, Magic 92
Three stars of the game predictions:
- Nikola Pekovic
- Andrei Kirilenko
- Kevin Love
Let’s go Wolves!