Setting the Stage:
It’s fair to say that Week 12 was a successful one for the young pups. On Tuesday, the Wolves ended an excruciating 15 game losing streak with a win in Indianapolis over the Pacers. Most notable from that game was the play of Maurice Williams, who scored a franchise record 52 points. Take a look at his shot chart:
Minnesota up the victory with a close loss to Phoenix, followed by an impressive victory over the Nuggets in the notoriously tough Pepsi Center. Andrew Wiggins absolutely shined against Denver, putting up a career high 31 points, becoming the first rookie Wolf to score 30 since Stephon Marbury. The kid certainly has a future in this league, and watching him grow has been a real treat.
With this weeks games, Minnesota will reach the halfway point of the season. Although it hasn’t gone according to plan, the Wolves should fare better once the injured start returning. In fact, Kevin Martin has been upgraded from Doubtful to Questionable for Monday’s game, which means there’s a 50/50 shot he ends up playing. And Pek and Rubio shouldn’t be too far behind.
On to the games –
Game 40: Monday 1/19, 1pm – Timberpups @ Charlotte Hornets (TV: None)
No TV for this one, so unless you have league pass, feel free to take take this opportunity to listen to Alan Horton over on WCCO 830 AM. As the Wolves solo radio announcer, Horton is simply fantastic.
In terms of the actual game, Minnesota actual should have a solid chance to pull this one out. Al Jefferson is out, and Kemba Walker is likely to be sidelined as well. Charlotte has underwhelmed so far this season, and it’s no secret that new acquisition Lance Stephenson has already been put on the trading block.
What to Watch:
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist - The second year small forward out of Kentucky is known for his defense, and will be a solid test for Andrew Wiggins. Gilchrist has struggled on the offensive end during his short career, but has started to find himself. Gilchrist has scored in double figures in 7 of his last 10 games, including a 17 point 12 rebound effort against Orlando.
Game 41: Wednesday 1/21, 7pm – Dallas Mavericks @ Timberpups (TV: FS North)
Minnesota will return from a four game road trip awaiting a matchup with the revamped Mavericks. Their lineup is a five headed offensive monster. The Maverick’s offensive rating 108.5 ranks second in the league, and each starter averages at least 10 points a game. Defending them will not be easy.
What to Watch:
Rajon Rondo - The ultra-competitive maestro (link is worth a read) known as Rondo is the Mavericks newest piece, and he fits perfectly. He makes the impossible look simple with his passing, and it should be no different against the Wolves depleted backcourt. Expect Rondo to put up a double-double Wednesday.
Game 42: Friday 1/23, 7pm – New Orleans Pelicans @ Timberpups (TV: FS North)
The Wolves end a quick two game home stand with a game against the Pelicans. With the mass amount of talent on the Pelicans, you’d expect them to be better than a .500 team, but that’s where they stand right now (19-20). Most recently for New Orleans was an embarrassing loss to the Sixers, albeit with Anthony Davis was out with a thumb injury.
In the Wolves last matchup with the Pelicans, New Orleans won 139-91. Lets hope for a better result in this meeting.
What to Watch:
Anthony Davis – The 6’10” forward is on a tear this season, averaging 24 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks per game. The scariest part? He’s just 21 years old.
Game 43: Sunday 1/25, 5pm – Timberpups @ Atlanta Hawks (TV: FS North)
The best team in the East is the Hawks!? Yes, the 33-8 Hawks on fire. In the midst of a 12 game winning streak, Atlanta is destroying anything and everything in their path. Much like Dallas, Atlanta is doing their damage with the team ball philosophy. None of their players stand out as superstars, but their chemistry is unmatched. All five starters average over 10 points a game, and backup point guard Dennis Schroeder has carved out a spot in the rotation with his playmaking abilities.
What to Watch:
Kyle Korver – DO NOT LEAVE THIS MAN OPEN! Korver shoots 53.6% from 3 point land. No other player in league history has had a higher 3pt% through half a season. It’s not due to small sample size, either. Korver has 125 makes on 233 attempts from deep. It’s mind boggling.
None of the Wolves four games are gimmies, but the return of Kevin Martin (and hopefully Pek and Ricky), could provide a boost to the team. Don’t be surprised to see the Wolves go 2-2 and start the second half of the season on a high note.