Setting the stage:
While we wait with baited breath for tonight’s All-Star Game (…), let’s take a look at the week ahead for the Timberwolves as they will have to come out of the break swinging. With the win against the Nuggets before the break, the Wolves moved to 25-28 on the season and jumped percentage point(s) ahead of Denver, good for 10th place in the Western Conference. The team is a full six games behind the Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns for the 8 seed.
If you haven’t given up on the Wolves yet, you definitely want to keep an eye on the Suns, as they are seemingly more likely to come back to earth after the break. The Suns did however win at the Target Center back on 1/8, so the Wolves are in that much more of a hole to dig out of. The teams will face off two more times this year: 2/25 in Phoenix and 3/23 at Target Center.
Let’s get to this week’s games …
Game 55: Wednesday, 2/19, 7pm – Indiana Pacers @ Timberpups (TV: FS North & ESPN)
Tough way to begin your post all-star break for the Wolves, who will host the Eastern Conference leading, 40-12 Indiana Pacers this coming Wednesday. The most complete team in the NBA in my opinion and proving it night in and night out.
Opponent to watch:
Paul George – Do I need to go there again? You know what, I won’t. George’s coming out season, after last year’s playoff run, has been a joy to watch. 22ppg, 6.4rpg, 3.4apg, and 1.79spg. Imagine if this guy was on the Wolves? Wait, he could have been? (KAHNNNNN?!?!?!)
Even though the Pacers have a game on Tuesday night against Atlanta, they are too deep and too talented. If the Wolves get back Nikola Pekovic and/or Kevin Martin, I still don’t think it is enough. Final score: Pacers 96, Timberwolves 89
Game 56: Saturday, 2/22, 8pm – Timberpups @ Utah Jazz (TV: FS North)
The Wolves won a home-and-home against the Jazz in late January and there isn’t much to suggest this game should be any different. The Jazz will be in Portland Friday night for a road game and will then have to fly back to Utah to take on our Pups … who should be well rested for this game.
Opponent to watch:
Derrick Favors – Favors is pretty quietly having a decent year now that the logjam in the Jazz frontcourt has worked itself out – maybe too much though. Favors is averaging 12.9ppg, 9.0rpg and over 1 block per game. Favors injured his hip this past Wednesday night and we’ll see how quickly he can get back to 100%.
All games moving forward for the Wolves are “must-win” – they cannot afford to lose one like this whatsoever. Final score: Timberwolves 108, Jazz 92
Game 57: Sunday, 2/23, 8pm – Timberpups @ Portland Trailblazers (TV: FS North)
The Blazers are a ridiculous 19 games over .500 (36-17) at the all-star break and that is only good for the 5th seed in the Western Conference. As a team, they are first in scoring and rebounds per game in the NBA, and fourth in assists per game. Their defense is a liability and I still don’t see how this team is this good. I must have a mental block on the Blazers, but I just don’t see them doing anything in the playoffs.
Opponent to watch:
LaMarcus Aldridge – Get ready for your now weekly, “who is the best power forward in the NBA?” rhetoric. It seems like whoever has the ESPN game that night is anointed the best for 24-48 hours. I like Aldridge as a player … if Love is going to be traded, I would highly prefer that LMA comes back to the team vs. Blake Griffin. But neither is as good as Kevin Love. Period. Period!
Blazers will have Saturday night off to prepare for the Wolves and rest. Final score: Blazers 114, Timberwolves 110
My predictions above aren’t exactly how you want to come out of the break and make your run towards the playoffs. However, I just don’t see the Wolves making ground this week with two very tough opponents sandwiching what should be a victory in Utah. Doh!
Let’s go Wolves!