Setting the Stage:
Games weren’t the only thing the Wolves lost last week. Minnesota was part of a 3 team trade that sent Corey Brewer to Houston and Ronny Turiaf to Philadelphia. In return, Minnesota received a few second round picks, as well as Troy Daniels, a volume 3 point shooter who set multiple D League records last season for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
With an 0-4 record last week, the Wolves were able to give themselves a bit of breathing room at the bottom of the Western Conference standings. Minnesota’s dismal record puts them is 3 wins back of the Lakers and 4 shy of Utah. In all 4 games last week, Minnesota had opportunities to take control late, but failed to do so. Stuck in what is currently a 5 game losing streak, Minnesota will hope to break the trend. It won’t be easy, however, as the 3 teams they will face have a combined record of 50-29.
Game 27: Tuesday, 12/23, 6pm – Timberpups @ Cleveland Cavaliers (TV: FS North/NBA TV)
The Cavs sit at 16-10, a somewhat disappointing record considering the expectations they were handed. Their 7-3 in their last 10 games, however, and on Sunday, the Cavs used a 4th quarter spurt to blow past Memphis. Cleveland has started to figure things out on the court, and when they have all cylinders firing on offense, as they have done in short stints, they are nearly impossible to stop.
What to Watch:
Kevin Love - Tuesday marks Kevin Love’s first meeting against Minnesota. Playing alongside Kyrie Irving and LeBron James, Love’s production has decreased significantly. His average of 16.8 ppg and 10.5 rpg are the lowest numbers he’s posted since his 2009-2010 sophomore campaign. But make no mistake, Love will be up for this game, and if the Wolves aren’t able to defend him, the score could get ugly.
Game 28: Friday, 12/26, 8pm – Timberpups @ Denver Nuggets (TV: FS North)
The game this week that appears to be the most winnable comes Friday in Denver. The Nuggets may not have any all-stars, but a glut of quality talent at several positions makes them competitive team, even in the loaded west. Although Denver won’t find themselves still playing basketball come May, their home court advantage is unparalleled. The altitude combined with a passionate fan base makes it tough for any team to win inside Pepsi Center.
What to Watch:
Faried vs. Shabazz - Arguably the two hardest working power forwards in the game will be matched up on Friday. Both are fan favorites, but only one is known as the ‘Manimal.’ As rumors have circulated surrounding Faried’s standing on the team this season, his numbers have down across the board, averaging a career low in rebounds while only scoring 10.8 ppg.
Game 29: Saturday, 12/27 9:30pm – Timberpups @ Golden State Warriors (TV: FS North)
There isn’t much to say about Golden State, other than that they’re really, really good. With a record of 22-3, the Warriors dominant in all facets, including defensively, where they rank first in the league.
What to Watch:
The Perimeter – If Minnesota wants to pull off the monumental upset, they will have to prevent the Warriors from dominating the game from deep, where they average nearly 10 makes a game on 38% shooting. It starts with the Splash Brothers, Klay and Steph, and extends to Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala, and the rest of their bench.
Unfortunately, another winless week seems to be on the horizon. But with the return of Ricky Rubio looming, the Wolves christmas stocking won’t be filled entirely with coal.