Setting the stage:
It’s already Week 5, and the Timberwolves stand No. 10 in the competitive Western Conference with an 8-7 record. Minnesota’s record doesn’t seem to accurately reflect its performance, as the Wolves care currently averaging an impressive 106.9 points per game. In scoring, they hold onto their No. 3 spot in the NBA, coming in behind Houston and the LA Clippers, respectively. The Timberwolves enter the fourth week of the season with an impressive 7-4 record. As of Monday morning, the team fell to 6th place in the league for rebounds and assists.
Kevin Love delivered a disappointing performance against the Clips on Wednesday, but the All-Star forward returned to form later in the week and continues to average 28 points and 13.6 rebounds per game.
Ricky Rubio upholds his reputation for assists, dishing out an average of 8.7 passes a game, and he is also stepping up his defensive game tremendously this season. Currently, the point guard leads the NBA with an average of three steals per contest.
JJ Barea delivered less-than-impressive stats last week. If Barea doesn’t show more consistency on the floor, it will be tough to give Rubio any real relief. For Minnesota to be successful this week, the 6’0” PG needs to step up his game and be a stronger teammate on the floor.
Week 5 is a lighter week with only three games, but it feels just as rigorous with two of those games being on the road. The Timberwolves will face the No. 1 team in the league on Monday evening, and it will be a good test of their mental toughness. On Wednesday, Corey Brewer will face his old teammates during a home stand at the Target Center. Here are a few thoughts for each game this week.
Game 16: Monday, 11/25 – Timberwolves @ Indiana Pacers (TV: FS North)
The Timberwolves will certainly have a challenging contest ahead of them when they face the 12-1 Indiana Pacers on the road. Indiana currently holds the No. 1 spot in the Eastern Conference, standing two games over Miami. Indiana is 19-4 overall when hosting Minnesota at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Opponent to watch:
Paul George – George has been an unstoppable force this season, averaging 24 points per game this year. Historically, George averaged only 15 PPG against the Wolves. Minnesota will focus a lot of defensive effort against the 6’9” SF.
Both teams are averaging high point totals this season. Although Minnesota holds a nine-point average advantage, the Pacers play tough defense and have been holding opponents to under 90 points thus far. The Wolves have struggled a bit on the road this season, and Indiana will be their toughest opponent this week. Final score: Pacers 101, Timberwolves 93
Game 17: Wednesday, 11/27, 7pm – Denver Nuggets @ Timberwolves (TV: FSN Plus)
Timberwolves will look forward to this home rematch against Denver Wednesday night. On Nov. 15, Minnesota landed on the short end of the 117-113 final score at the Pepsi Center. It proved to be a hard-fought battle of the offenses, but in the end it was the Nuggets 64 points in the paint that sealed the deal. Denver holds a .500 record at this point in the season, standing two spots behind Minnesota in the Western Conference.
Opponent to watch:
Wilson Chandler – Although Chandler comes off the bench for Denver, he often finds a way to make an impact. The SF tallied 19 points against Minnesota in their first meeting, and he’s also a quick weapon on defense.
I think we can count on Corey Brewer to lead the Wolves defensively Wednesday night. The forward has had a great season thus far, and he won’t want to fall to his former team at home. If our big men deliver a strong performance, this game should be a win for Minnesota. Final score: Timberwolves 110, Nuggets 101
Game 18: Saturday, 11/30, 7:30pm – Timberwolves @ Dallas Mavericks (TV: FS North)
At 9-5, the Mavericks have a solid season going so far. They’ve admittedly had an easier schedule, though, and the Timberwolves beat them 116-108 on Nov. 8. Dallas is averaging 47 percent from the floor, and their free throw performance as a team has struggled. Against Minnesota, the Mavericks hit less than 70 percent of their attempted free throws.
Last season, Dallas averaged 100 points against the Wolves. Adelman and his team will have to come out tough defensively to keep their opponents’ top scorers in check—especially on the road.
Opponent to watch:
Dirk Nowitzki – I don’t think anyone has told Nowitzki that he’s 35 years old. As one of the oldest players currently in the NBA, the 7’0” PF doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. Nowitzki leads his team in scoring, averaging 22 PPG over 14 games.
Dallas certainly has some major threats on offense, but it’s nothing Minnesota can’t handle. Kevin Love will be an effective matchup against Nowitzki, and Kevin Martin should be an even match against the Mav’s second threat, Monta Ellis. Final score: Timberwolves 115, Mavericks 112
Thanksgiving week will prove a tiring one for Minnesota as it’s on the road for 2 of 3 games. If the Timberwolves can come away with an equal number of wins, we won’t have anything to complain about.