Last week wasn’t too kind to our beloved pups. After pulling out a gutty win over Brooklyn on Wednesday, the Wolves were swept in their first set of road back-to-back games of the season. This was in large part due to the absence of Ricky Rubio, who sprained his ankle in the first half of Friday’s game against Orlando. Rubio is out indefinitely, and the Wolves and it’s no secret the Wolves will struggle without him.
That doesn’t mean they won’t be competitive, however. The Wolves found themselves with the lead in the final minute in Orlando before losing in overtime, and nearly completed a 20 point comeback on Saturday before falling to Miami. Their record now stands at 2-4.
Unfortunately, this weeks schedule doesn’t look to be very forgiving. Starting Wednesday, the Wolves will embark on a three game gauntlet. A record this week of 1-2 sans Rubio might even be considered a minor victory.
Game 7: Wednesday, 11/12, 9:00pm – Houston Rockets @ Pups* (TV: ESPN) *In Mexico City
Game #7 sees the Wolves with a home game in Mexico City for the second time in as many years. With the game on ESPN, I’m sure the league would love to see this years’ game in the Mexican capital actually take place.
For the second straight year, Minnesota is scheduled to be the home team. Apparently, the fact that Texas borders Mexico and Minnesota borders Canada doesn’t matter much.
The Rockets have stood out as one of the top teams in the league so far, with a record of 6-1. Their roster isn’t much different from a year ago, save for the addition of Trevor Ariza and the subtractions of Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik.
What to Watch for:
James Harden and Dwight Howard are averaging a combined 45.1 ppg, so slowing them down will be key if the Wolves want to hang with Houston.
As for the point guard matchup, if Zach LaVine starts, he will be matched up against defensive specialist Patrick Beverley.
As a team, Houston is averaging 39.6% shooting on 32.9 3-point attempts per game, compared to Minnesota’s 34.1% on 14.2 attempts. The contrasting styles should be evident on Wednesday night.
Game #8: Friday 11/14, 7:00pm – Pups @ New Orleans Pelicans (TV: FS North)
After leaving Mexico City, the Wolves head to the Big Easy in a matchup against New Orleans. Minnesota went 2-1 in against New Orleans last season.
New Orleans has started the season 3-2 after an injury plagued 2013-2014 campaign fell short of expectations. Their main pickup was center Omer Asik, while they lost Al Farouq-Aminu to Dallas.
What to Watch for:
Anthony Davis and Omer Asik vs. Thad/Pek/Gorgui. Anthony Davis has started the 14-15 on an absolute tear, averaging 24/13/2 and 4 blocks. The addition of Asik makes New Orleans the most feared defensive front court in the league. For Flip, this might be the time to tryout the Pek/Gorgui lineup.
Game #9: Saturday 11/15, 7:30 – Pups @ Dallas Mavericks (TV: FS North)
Minnesota ends their third back-to-back of the year with a contest against the high-powered Mavs. Dallas should be well rested, as their only game between Wednesday and Saturday is a Thursday matchup with the lowly Sixers. The Wolves were 3-1 against Dallas in 13-14, with the only loss due to “D’OH ED MALLOY.”
What to Watch for:
In his 17th season, Dirk Nowitzki probably shouldn’t be averaging 21 points on 54% shooting. But he is, and the Wolves will have to find a way counter his height and shooting ability.
The Chandler Parsons vs. Andrew Wiggins matchup at the SF is one to keep your eyes on. Parsons excellent movement off-the-ball will be a major test for Wiggins.
The Wolves will be lucky to win even one of their three games this week. Fans should worry less about wins and losses and try and watch the development of the young guys, specifically Zach Lavine. LaVine faces matchups with Beverley, Jrue Holiday, and veteran Jameer Nelson. LaVine isn’t just having to place his in the fire, he’s being forced to swim in it.
Try and smile. Ricky wants you to.