The Pups return home to the Target Center for Thursday night’s game against the LA Clippers. As an added bonus, TNT will be carrying the game to a national audience. When TNT picked this game up, I wonder if they thought the Twolves would be down to approximately eight healthy bodies, no Kevin Love, and an extremely limited Ricky Rubio. I doubt it.
Minnesota is coming off a dreadful road trip losing all four games in a particularly ugly fashion. The locker room also has the flu bug going around it, so we probably won’t know who is going to be available for the team and who isn’t until minutes before the opening tip. While Rick Adelman stopped by the team on Wednesday, it does not sound like he plans on joining them on the sidelines just yet, leaving Terry Porter in the driver’s seat.
Back in late November, the Pups lost to the Clippers in LA 101-95. Around that time, it was kosher to poke fun at how the Clippers were playing well, but were still a team coached by Vinny Del Negro. In fact, I may have done that in our preview prior to the game. Fast forward to mid-January and the Clippers are once again proving me wrong, holding the second best record in the league at 30-9 and percentage points behind OKC for the top spot in the conference.
It must be nice to have your star players at full health all season and players being able to fill the roles that they are supposed to be in, not trying to make them into something they’re not. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin obviously lead the way here, but the team is getting solid contributions on the wing from Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes, and Caron Butler. Throw in the continued maturity of DeAndre Jordan and there you have it, a 30-9 team battling with the best in the league.
Player to watch:
Chris Paul – Paul killed the Pups back in late November and no one should be surprised if it happens again Thursday night. What little chance of a letdown the Twolves faithful might be hoping for from a top team coming into Minnesota is likely nullified by the game being broadcast on TNT. Get ready for the pre and post game interviews with Paul (or Blake) and all the nausea that comes with it from the studio.
Match-up to watch:
Nikola Pekovic vs. DeAndre Jordan. These two played to about a draw in November, with Pek going for 11 & 10 and 4 fouls in almost 33 minutes of action, while Jordan went for 15 & 6 and 4 fouls in just under 27 minutes. I expect more of the same from these two heavyweights Thursday night. Quite honestly, the only way the Pups win this game is with Pekovic having a career-like performance on both ends of the floor.
Despite the two days off, the Twolves are in a slide and I don’t see how having the second best team in the league coming to town helps the situation.
Final score prediction: Twolves 92, Clippers 106
Three stars of the game predictions:
- Chris Paul
- Jamal Crawford
- Andrei Kirilenko
Let’s go Wolves!