Setting the Stage:
Last Wednesday saw Minnesota put an end to a five game losing streak with a win over the struggling Knicks. The win was their first without Rubio, and was highlighted by Kevin Martin’s 37 points on 8 made threes. Also: Shabazz Muhammad took flight.
But even when the Wolves win, they seem to lose. It turns out that in the first quarter against the Knicks, Kevin Martin broke his wrist when he was fouled attempting a three. Incredibly, Martin managed to score 37 points with the injury, because the Knicks are bad at defense. Martin is sidelined indefinitely.
Martin is the latest starter to be sidelined. With Ricky Rubio and Nikola Pekovic also out with injuries, and Thad Young mourning the loss of his mother, the Wolves had to finish off the week with just one player left from the opening day starting lineup – Andrew Wiggins.
Wiggins and the rest of the Wolves did their best to compete with the Spurs and Kings over the weekend, but they stood little chance against two teams competing for playoff spots in the loaded Western Conference.
The Wolves are currently 3-9, good for 13th place in the West, but the news isn’t all bad. The schedule for week 5 isn’t particularly grueling, and the team welcomes back Thad Young, who practiced Monday and is expected to start for the Wolves on Wednesday.
Game 13: Wednesday, 11/26, 7pm – Milwaukee Bucks @ Timberpups (TV: FS North Plus)
If the Kings are the surprise team in the West, then the Bucks are the surprise team in the wide-open East. With a record of 7-7, Jason Kidd seems to have the Bucks headed in the right direction. The Bucks are being led by Brandon Knight. Yes, the same Brandon Knight who was destroyed by Deandre Jordan, and crushed on a screen from Pekovic is leading the Bucks in both scoring (18.1) and assists (6.4).
What to Watch:
Jabari Parker vs. Andrew Wiggins: The top two picks in the 2014 NBA Draft will face off against each other in the regular season for the first time. No, they won’t be matched up on each other, but this is the first chance to watch them on the court together. This game will determine who is the better player*
*No it won’t, it’s just one game. Chill out.
The Greek Freak: He’s only in his second season, but point-forward/Elastic Man Giannis Antetokounmpo is already one of the most electrifying players in the league. Not only is he a freak on the court, he’s also been surprisingly efficient this season, posting a PER of 17.9 and shooting 52.5% from the field. Oh yeah, and he’s also grown from his 6’9″ height on draft day to 6’11” this season. He also loves smoothies.
Game 14: 11/28 9:30pm Timberpups @ Los Angeles Kobes (TV: FS North)
Yes, not even Jack Nicholson, star of the film “The Shining,” can take the horror of the 2014-2015 Lakers. Because sometimes contested Kobe Bryant 20 footers just aren’t enough to keep you awake.
The Lakers do excel at one thing: terrible defense. Los Angeles isn’t just bad at defense, they are historically awful. Their 117.2 defensive rating is worst in the league, and on pace to be the worst rating in league history. At Grantland, Zach Lowe did a fantastic job breaking down what makes the 2014-2015 Lakers so weird.
What to Watch:
Kobe Shot Count: One thing you can count on Friday is that Kobe will shoot the ball. A lot. Kobe is averaging 24 attempts per game, but is shooting an atrocious 38%. Kobe has seemingly stopped caring about his teammates, solely focusing on personal accolades, like passing Michael Jordan for career points.
The question for Friday is who guards Kobe? Whether it’s Brewer or Wiggins, the matchup should be a fascinating one.
For the first time in what feels like forever, the Wolves have a chance to sweep their weeks slate of games. Neither Milwaukee or Los Angeles are quite the formidable foes that Sacramento and San Antonio were last week. And with the return of Thad Young, the Wolves will have a rejuvenated front line to go along with the phenom that Andrew Wiggins has looked recently.