Offseason Update #1

The last time you heard from Timberpups, you were reading a recap of the final Minnesota Timberwolves game of the season. Remember? No? Ok, well they lost. It sent most of us into a dark place, mentally. Pair the post-season depression with other obligations and you’ll get an inactive blog. However, the show must go on.

There’s been a lot that’s happened since the end of the season, so the review will come over the next few weeks. Let’s do a quick rundown.

Record: 40-42. Third in the Northwest Division, 10th in the Western Conference — the second best team in the West that didn’t make the postseason [Phoenix Suns finished in the 9th spot out West].

Rick Adelman Retires. The moment many had been waiting for came into fruition just shortly after the season ended. Adelman leaves behind a legacy that will go somewhat unfulfilled. Although his motion-based offensive system has left remnants scattered about schemes all around the league, Adelman was never able to achieve the ultimate goal; he is not an NBA Champion, but don’t let that take away from any of Adelman’s achievements. And there are many.

I wrote some words about Adelman’s final season on an NBA sideline, and how the Wolves didn’t exactly give him a ride out of town on a horseback into the glorious sunset. Read them by clicking this link.

 

The Wolves need a new coach. Names such Fred Hoiberg, Kevin Ollie, Tom Izzo, Billy Donovan, among others, have all surfaced as potential candidates. Look for more coverage from Timberpups on the search and hiring process, soon.

It should be noted that Flip Saunders has been mentioned, in some circles, as someone that may coach the Wolves next season. It’s known that team owner Glen Taylor doesn’t want this to happen. I don’t believe it will, but as each day passes I worry more and more that Flip will ultimately be coaching the Wolves next season. I’d give those odds about 10 percent, right now.

 

More to come from Timberpups.

-zb

Wolves Injury Update

Tonight, the Timberwolves are in Phoenix to take on the Suns for the third game on this a six game road trip. Still no sign of Nikola Pekovic or Kevin Martin, and Ronny Turiaf remains out indefinitely with a bruised right knee.

Before departing on this venture, Kevin Love’s Instagram account informed us that the Wolves resident Bruise Brother, Pekovic, would be returning sometime during this — pivotal — stretch of the season. Martin also remains sidelined with a broken left thumb, but saw a specialist in Los Angeles yesterday. After having things looked at Monday, as well as last Friday, @TWolves_PR has informed us that Martin is progressing well.

As for Pekovic, he participated in shootaround this morning in Phoenix. His status for tonight is labeled as questionable. Pekovic was active pregame in Utah before Saturday’s meeting with the Jazz, but did not play — which, admittedly, led me to believe that he would be active in Portland for the Wolves meeting with the Blazers the following evening.

This column by Mark Remme states that Pekovic isn’t feeling any more pain in his ankle, however, that does not mean the pain isn’t there. Pek is suffering from bursitis, an inflammation caused by repetitive, minor impact on the affected area, or from a sudden, more serious injury. Because of abuse the game of basketball places on an athletes knees (specifically the bursa, tendons and cartilage) it’s unlikely that Pekovic, or any athlete for that matter, that suffers from bursitis will ever completely heal. Age also plays a role. As tendons age they are able to tolerate stress less, are less elastic, and are easier to tear. He can play, but that doesn’t mean it will be a painless experience.

Pekovic had this to say to media shortly after shootaround. (Per Remme Practice Report)

“I would like, if I could play minutes today, but I still have to do some things today so we’ll see how it goes.” – Pekovic

The Wolves are 5-7 since Pek was removed from the Wolves meeting with the Chicago Bulls late in January. They are 3-3 since Martin joined him on the sideline.

Gorgui Dieng, still being used sparingly, is averaging 11 minutes per game over the previous five games. Dieng is still a very raw, young, and developing player but has at least been serviceable in the absence of Pek and Turiaf. He is averaging 3 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 block per game during the recent stretch.

 

 

zb

Can the Wolves Survive Without Nikola Pekovic?

 

From the classic "Where in the world is Nikola Pekovic" video

From the classic “Where in the world is Nikola Pekovic” video

In case you missed it, Nikola Pekovic left Monday night’s game in Chicago and was originally listed as “Doubtful” to return later in the game.  We now have word that Pekovic is “Out” for the next 7 to 10 days and will be reevaluated at that time due to bursitis in his right ankle.  Here is the official announcement from the team on Twitter:

 

Well, that certainly doesn’t make you feel very well, does it?  Maybe the most concerning part, beyond him definitively missing the next 7-10 days, is the “He will be sidelined indefinitely”.  Pek has missed a number of games in season’s past, but had appeared in all 44 games thus far this season, averaging a career high 18.4ppg and 9.3rpg.  As you are also well aware, Pek is in the first year of his new 5 year, $60 million contract – and if all of this doesn’t make Wolves’ fans nervous, I’m not sure what will.  (Maybe numb?)

What does this mean for the team moving forward?  Well, in the next ten days, the Wolves play seven games, starting tonight at the Target Center against the Pelicans and finishing on Saturday, 2/8, home against the Blazers.  Excluding the game on 2/1 against the Hawks, the Wolves will face foes from the Western Conference – the Pelicans twice, Grizzlies, Lakers, Thunder, and finishing up with the Blazers.  To say this is an important stretch of games for the team is an understatement, given their current 11th place seeding in the conference.  They are a game and a half behind the Grizzlies in the W/L column, so that is a huge game.  They will need to find a way to beat the Pelicans and Lakers, or at least take two of those three.  The Thunder and Blazer games might be too much to handle, but if they can split those two, that would be a plus.

Beyond the games ahead, and the uncertainty of when a much-needed Nikola Pekovic will return to the lineup, there might be one silver lining in all of this.  There is playing time to be earned from this and two of the items I mentioned in our half-season review might be coming to fruition quickly.  First, this basically forces Adelman’s hand a bit in giving some playing time to Gorgui Dieng.  While Ronny Turiaf will certainly receive extended minutes, Dieng will likely be seeing the floor more over the next two weeks and showcase his talents.  Second, we might see a bit more of Kevin Love at the Center spot, playing alongside Dante Cunningham and LRMAM.  At least one of these two is going to have to step up and play to, at least, their potential, as both have struggled mightily this season for the Pups.

I don’t want to mince words, the loss of Pek is significant.  The team must take a ‘next man up’ attitude and battle through the next few weeks.  We can hope that Pek returns in that ~10 day diagnosis, but the league isn’t going to shuffle the schedule for us and the team needs to push through this.  A couple of questions for consideration:

  • Do you think this will knock the Pups out of the playoffs?
  • Who do you envision stepping up over the next two weeks?

Let’s go Wolves!

Timberwolves Entertainment Network (T.E.N)

Today the Timberwolves launched the Timberwolves Entertainment Network, or T.E.N. Bob Stanke seemed to be behind this one, go figure.

 

Here’s what to expect. (This is from the site)

 

The T.E.N. will feature all the news and updates you are used to seeing on Timberwolves.com—including practice reports and GameDay coverage—but it will also be the home to all of our podcasts and video programming. That includes new shows like Shot Clock Violation and the Pixel Brothers Podcast as well as old favorites like Light Work with J.J. Barea and 5-on-5: Around the League. We’ll also take you behind the scenes with our All Access series, Beyond the Den with our community features and around Target Center with our Dancers and Kid Reporters content. This is an exciting time to be a Timberwolves fan, and you’ll have more access than ever with the Timberwolves Entertainment Network.

It seems as if the Wolves social media team has consolidated content from the team’s homepage into one, easy to access, network. I’m going to see what it looks like browsing on a mobile device, as well as on a desktop.

A solid visual that makes the page, and it's purpose, easy to remember.

A solid visual that makes the page, and it’s purpose, easy to remember.

 

On a desktop the page is organized neatly, making it very easy to navigate for any newcomers. The content is not only orgonized, it’s interactive — notice the poll questions to the right. Not only are the poll questions Timberwolves related (obviously) but they reach beyond basketball, fun for even the most casual of fans.

 

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The links on the left will bring you to videos and podcast that are features on the Timberwolves webpage. From the pages i explored these are mobile friendly pages and videos; a huge plus.

 

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In each channel, on both the desktop and mobile, there are sub categories making it easy to find whatever you’re looking for.  Here’s an example of what these look like on each browser.

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The site on a mobile browser is just as easy to navigate. There is no scrolling side to side to make images fit. This is also the case for video features, which is more than some other sites can say (won’t name names, but we’ve all had that problem. Here’s an example of the what the Wolves-Heat recap looks like on a mobile browser.

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The content accessible through T.E.N is the same quality stuff from Mark Remme, Kyle Ratke and the other members of the Wolves media team. Practice reports, recaps and everything that the Timberwolves promote through Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms is all located in one place.

The Timberwolves have one of the most interactive social media teams out there, so they’re always going to be improving. Stanke and the team have done an excellent job with T.E.N., maybe one day they’ll have provide access to some Timberwolves blogs (you know, like Timberpups) but that’s wishful thinking — for now.

The entire social media staff has done excellent work getting this done, this makes Timberwolves content -direct from the source- easy to find, peruse and interact with — IT’S FOR THE FANS.

Enjoy the Timberwolves Entertainment Network for yourself, whether it’s mobile or desktop browsing, HERE!!!

Timberpups Weekly Preview | December 9th

This is the Timberpups weekly preview for the week of December 9th.

It’d be nice to have strong performances from the Minnesota Timberwolves this week. Looking ahead at the schedule, which is becoming fairly easier, there are some decent opportunities to get momentum moving in the right direction.

The Wolves have the opportunity to be, on paper, a better team than their opponent three of four times this week.

The Wolves have the opportunity to be, on paper, a better team than their opponent three of four times this week.

 

Tuesday December 10th. 

Wolves at Detroit Pistons. 

These two met at the Palace in Detroit during the preseason, this time the game counts. If you can remember the preseason meeting was a dramatic loss, Josh Smith hit a three at the buzzer and the Wolves lost a ‘heartbreaker’. The Pistons, like the Wolves, are hovering around .500 with a record of 10-11. Detroit had five players averaging double figures and enjoy a moderate paced game, picking-and-choosing when to run in transition — mobile big men; Smith, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe aren’t slouches moving up and down the floor. The Pistons rank 14th in pace per game (the number of possessions a team uses per game) while the Wolves rank second.

Chauncey Billups and Wil Bynum are out indefinitely, Rodney Stuckey missed Sunday’s game with left knee tendinitis and it’s unsure if he’ll be ready to go for Monday’s game.

Prediction (and I’m no good at these): Wolves punish Pistons — 117-98.

 

Josh Smith whining, about something -- who cares?

Josh Smith whining, about something — who cares?

 

Wednesday December 12th.

Wolves -happily- welcome Philadelphia 76ers. 

There couldn’t be a better time to play the, less than stellar, 76ers — especially at Target Center. Philadelphia is allowing more points per game than any other team in basketball and are considered one of the favorites in the race to “Tank for Wiggins”. Former ‘potential’ Timberwolf Lorenzo Brown will be in the building, the Sixers recently signed him to fulfill the void that was created at point guard due to multiple injuries. One of those injuries was suffered by Michael Carter-Williams, the Sixers rookie has been a glimmering bright spot so far this year averaging 18 points and 7 assists per game but his status for this game is uncertain. “MCW” has a bacterial infection in his right-knee. Evan Turner will need to do a LOT for the Sixers to have a chance in this one.

Prediction: Wolves scoff at the Sixers — 110-89.

Barea drives hoping to score during a meeting with Sixers in the preseason

Barea drives hoping to score during a meeting with Sixers in the preseason

Friday December 13th.

Wolves at San Antonio Spurs.

This would be a rematch between these two teams, but because of the inexplicable generator fire in the Arena at Mexico City last week it’s the first meeting between these two this season. It’s no surprise that the Spurs are one of the best team’s in the Western Conference, this is the Wolves toughest challenge for the week. San Antonio is 11th in the league in offensive rating and 3rd on the defensive side of things. I’ll take the Gregg Popovich approach on this one by not saying much more; The Wolves have work cut out for them against a premier NBA franchise on the road.

Prediction: Wolves slip-up against the Spurs, late — 96-101

Rubio finding a way to pass around Danny Green to someone open in the lane for a dunk, probably.

Rubio finding a way to pass around Danny Green to someone open in the lane for a dunk, probably.

Sunday December 15th. 

Wolves at Memphis Grizzlies.

The Grizzlies may have proved a more difficult challenge than the Spurs were, but this matchup is a bit more even. Marc Gasol and Quincy Pondexter are sidelined indefinitely because of their respective injuries — a huge bonus for the Wolves. Tony Allen is also uncertain as of now, but his condition may be updated during the course of the week. The Grizz are 10-11 on the season thus far, but have suffered 20+ losses in their last two games; falling by 20 to the Los Angeles Clippers and 27 at the hands of the Golden State Warriors.

Mike Conley, Jerryd Bayless and Nick Calathes are now the key components to success in Memphis, hopefully the Wolves are able to take care of business against a team wounded by injuries.

On a lighter note, it’s likely we’ll see Jon Lauer. He’s a Minnesota native (Orono) and a University of Wisconsin Graduate (Something Alex knows very well). It’s always fun seeing guys I’ve watched in high school play at the professional level, though it doesn’t do much for my self-esteem.

Prediction: Wolves go Walkin’ in Memphis and leave victorious — 100-86.

Mike Conley is good, that's pretty much what I got -- but can he carry an injured Grizz roster passed the Wolves at home?

Mike Conley is good, that’s pretty much what I got — but can he carry an injured Grizz roster passed the Wolves at home?

 

Wrap Up: Wolves begin the week in Detroit, head back home for a cake-walk (or what should be), venture down south to hostile territory and hit Beale Street for a team suffering the blues. The travel continues, though it’s dispersed and there will be NO -I REPEAT ZERO- back-to-backs this week. That means there’s no excuse, other than being out played for at LEAST a 3-1 week.

 

That’s all for now.

Zach

Derrick Williams Traded For Luc Mbah a Moute, Pending Physical

During the second quarter of the game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Indiana Pacers, Derrick Williams -pending a physical- was traded to the Sacramento Kings for Luc Mbah a Moute.

It’s pronounced Luke, MMMM-BAH-EM-MOOT-AY, (that’s not professional, but you’ll get it soon enough)

Mbah a Moute is 27 years old and in his sixth NBA season. After spending five-years in Milwaukee with the Bucks, Mbah a Moute (WOW, THIS IS FUN TO SAY) was traded to the Kings for two-future second round picks.

He’s not very potent offensively, shooting less than 30 percent from three-point range and just under 50 percent from the field on his career. Though his field-goal percentage is deceptive, Mbah a Moute shoots 50 percent around the rim but less than 40 percent within’ the three-point-arc.

Just this morning Jonathon Santiago of Cowbell Kingdom published a piece on the swingman out of the Cameroon, who was beginning to appear in the starting lineup. Mbah a Moute started in five of nine games as a King. Sacramento’s head coach, Michael Malone, is in his first season at the helm and was warming up to having the tenacious defender in his starting-five.

 

“I wasn’t playing him a whole lot because he missed most of the preseason – six preseason games he was out,” Malone said. “He missed a lot of practice time, so once he put together a string of practices where (I could say) ‘Okay, I can see what you can do and you can do it and you can sustain that’, that gave me the confidence to put him out there and start playing him more.”

“He’s a guy that’s kind of made his name in the NBA as a defensive player,” Malone said.

He’s a hustle junkie, someone Rick Adelman is going to enjoy having very much.

@ZacharyBD grade the trade – how do you feel?

— Andy Whisney (@andywhisney) November 26, 2013

It’s somewhat saddening to see Williams depart without ever making a name for himself in Minnesota, but; this move benefits his development as an NBA player going forward. “D-Will” is going to see more playing time, in a system that isn’t Adelman’s (which he’s never been accustomed too) and the Kings are going to see this “Caged Lion,” released.

The Wolves will pay roughly two-million less over the next two seasons for Mbah a Moute, as opposed to Williams.

Mbah a Moute is a hustle junkie — he’s a perfect fit for this second unit. A lock-down defender who’s going to hustle every minute he’s on the floor, the only concern of mine is the pending physical. Not that I’m worried he’ll ‘fail’ the physical, but the fact he’s been somewhat plagued with injuries in his career.

Mbah a Moute has played all 82 games of the season only once, his rookie year, and any player that’s been injured in the past poses some -obvious- concern.

He was just beginning to gel in Sacramento and will start, another, new beginning as a member of the Timberwolves.

 

Welcome, Luc.

 

 

How the Timberwolves Stack Up Against Each Team in the Western Conference

David Sherman/Getty Images

David Sherman/Getty Images

After a great start so far to the 2013-14 NBA season, the Wolves are beginning to look like a serious playoff contender. A lot of excitement and buzz has been generated in Minnesota behind a 7-4 start and their prolific offense. Below I put together some thoughts about how this Pups team matches up with each of their Western Conference opponents. Enjoy!

Dallas Mavericks

Advantages: Dallas is ranked third to last in points allowed per game. This will be big for the Wolves who are ranked 3rd in the league in scoring. We are going to have to take advantage of their bad defense.

Disadvantages: Monta Ellis has been playing really well this year averaging 23.3 points a game alongside a healthy Dirk Nowitzki. This team is going to be tough to beat every night regardless of their defensive deficiencies. It is crucial that we play tough defense and force Monta to take contested shots.

Denver Nuggets

Advantages: Denver does not have an extremely dynamic offense, and the loss of JaVale McGee certainly hurts their ability to clear room on the perimeter for their shooters. Minnesota runs a much faster paced game this season, and in the result of a shootout against Denver the Wolves would definitely be favored. Denver currently ranks 20th in the NBA in field goal percentage.

Disadvantages: The Nuggets are a very good defensive and rebounding team. The Wolves are going to have to be able to score efficiently and not rely on second chance baskets with Kenneth Faried pulling down rebounds. Denver is extremely good at crashing the boards and getting rebounds, as they currently rank second in the NBA in that category. And while Minnesota is not far behind in rebounding, they will need to get down to business and not let up unnecessary second chance points on the opposite end.

Golden State Warriors

Advantages: Golden State has committed 185 turnovers as a team which puts them at 25th in the NBA. Although they like to get out and run, it will be our job to make them pay when they turn it over. As we saw in the first contest between the two teams, points off turnovers will be a key stat to keep an eye on.

Disadvantages: Golden State is extremely versatile and can score efficiently in nearly every way. Stephen Curry is a legitimate superstar and can take over a game on any single night because of his remarkable ability to drain threes and dish out assists. And while Ricky Rubio has the ability to cause trouble for Curry on the defensive end, keeping up with Curry can prove to be an impossible task at times. Thanks in part to Curry and the addition of Andre Igoudala, the Warriors rank seventh in the NBA in assists and do a very nice job keeping everyone involved on the floor. Their ability to maintain an even scoring attack on a consistent basis makes Golden State a legitimate title contender this season.

Houston Rockets

Advantages: Ricky Rubio will be our X-factor in the matchups with the Rockets. He has the clear advantage over the defensively incapable Jeremy Lin and the much smaller Patrick Beverley. Lin is extremely turnover prone while Rubio currently leads the NBA in steals per game, creating for a nightmare mismatch in Minnesota’s favor.

Disadvantages: Although we are a great rebounding team, there is always the question of how to stop Dwight Howard defensively. Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic are marginal defenders and Dwight Howard is one of the best low post scorers in the NBA. On the perimeter, James Harden has established himself as arguably the best shooting guard in the game since being shipped over from OKC. Although Brewer is a nice defender and Derek Williams has shown promise on that end of the floor, containing James Harden is no simple task especially now with D12 stretching the floor for him.

Los Angeles Clippers

Advantages: We have the offensive fire power to keep up with the Clippers, as the Wolves are ranked third in scoring this year. In addition, the Clippers are ranked dead last in total defense this year which should translate into more open shots to get the offense going. The Clippers are also ranked 25th in rebounding which should lead to more second chance buckets and hopefully more trips to the free throw line.

Disadvantages: The Clippers offense is extremely potent and they boast a very deep bench. The team can score at will and is ranked first in scoring averaging 110 points per game. Also, is there anyone in the NBA that can contain Chris Paul? The best point guard in the league has been a complete beast and is perpetually causing match-up problems for every opponent he has faced. Furthermore, the Clippers are able to reload with their second unit of which consists of Jamal Crawford and JJ Reddick.

Los Angeles Lakers

Advantages: No Kobe Bryant. The time is now to widen the gap and to make it more difficult for the Lakers to sneak into the playoffs. The Lakers are banged up and if we can get to Christmas with a sizeable gap between the Lakers, we should have no problem edging them out. Kevin Love will go face the old and injured Pau Gasol and should come out on top in that matchup. Expect a big day out of Love vs. his potential future employer.

Disadvantages: Kobe coming back could cause problems for us as he has terrorized the Minnesota franchise since the beginning of his career. The Lakers do show decent chemistry even without Kobe and they should not be overlooked because of their experience and mental toughness on D.

Memphis Grizzlies

Advantages: There are not a whole ton of matchup advantages for Minnesota as this Memphis squad has continually caused problems for the Wolves in years past. However, with Kevin Martin aboard the Wolves have added a new dimension to their offense which could be the key to wearing out the tough Memphis defense. Memphis does not have the deepest bench so it is crucial for the Wolves’ second unit to win their matchups against Grizzlies’ backups.

Disadvantages: Memphis is a very good defensive team it will be very difficult to score against them. Furthermore, I think Marc Gasol is arguably the best center in the league right now. If he causes Love to get into foul trouble it could be a long night for the Wolves. Plus Zach Randolph plays with a lot of heart which could cause problems for us.

New Orleans Pelicans

Advantages: The Pelicans do not like to take outside shots. They are ranked last in 3-point attempts making them a live and die in the paint type of ball club. If we force them to take outside shots we should not have a problem containing them.

Disadvantages: New Orleans has very good shot blocking which could cause problems for Kevin Love and Big Pek. Anthony Davis is a very good defender and has the potential to keep Love in check. Also, Jrue Holliday is a very good scorer who is also known as one of the best faced-up defenders in the NBA, which would cause Rubio troubles gaining penetration.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Advantages: If we can find a way to contain Durant, Minnesota should do well this season against the Thunder. We had a very impressive victory earlier this season and if we maintain good defense and are efficient in our rotations, it should lead to more contested shots for OKC which could spell problems for them. The Thunder have not rebounded the ball well this season and the rebounding battle should be a big advantage for us looking forward.

Disadvantages: Russell Westbrook is now back from injury and is looking great. This will force us to play them differently than the first time around, as Durant and Westbrook combine to form one of the most lethal scoring combos in the league. Durant is second to only LeBron James in my mind and containing him is always a next to impossible task.

Phoenix Suns

Advantages:  Phoenix lacks the star power to keep up with the Wolves scoring while missing an experienced go-to scorer on their roster. Even though Phoenix has been playing well, they have had some troubles with turning the ball over. I feel it is a matter of time before the true tanking begins and the sweepstakes for Andrew Wiggins are in full effect. With Gortat gone, the Suns prospects for slowing down K-Love are increasingly more unlikely. Expect one or more 30-10 games from Love in our matchups this season.

Disadvantages: I would be stunned if we lost a game to Phoenix given the several positional mismatches that will be available to exploit.

Portland Trailblazers

Advantages: Portland has given up a lot of points this season and should have a difficult time slowing Minnesota’s potent scoring attack. While Portland possesses a strong starting 5, they lack an effective second unit of which has been lousy for the past several seasons. If we can keep the starting five in check and force LaMarcus Aldridge to take contested mid-range jumpers, Damian Lillard may not be enough to outscore the Wolves. Portland’s defense has also been a weakness this season, and they are in the bottom half of the league giving up 102 points per game.

Disadvantages: The starting 5 of the Blazers is very talented. Lillard and Aldridge have come together to form one of the top PG-PF pairings in the NBA. The key to beating the Blazers is by slowing down the starting 5 just enough while shutting down the bench. Portland does a good job of taking care of the basketball as they rank second in the NBA in fewest turnovers. It is crucial the Wolves create turnovers and force contested shots if they want a shot to take down the Blazers. I strongly feel that the Blazers will be one of the teams we are battling for that 7 or 8 seed for the Playoffs.

Sacramento Kings

Advantages: Sacramento has problems scoring the ball this year being ranked 25th in the NBA in that category. Furthermore, DeMarcus Cousins, although supremely talented, still has not formed strong chemistry with his teammates as he continues to act like a immature teenager on the court. Kevin Martin should exploit his matchups against Marcus Thornton who is a very lax defender. Expect a big game from Martin and our big men with very little frontcourt defense to stop Love and Pek.

Disadvantages: DeMarcus Cousins is a monster on the offensive end and as a rebounder. With that being said, that is about the only bright spot for the lowly Kings. They are ranked at the bottom of the NBA in rebounding and once again lack a core that can carry the team during important moments of games. On the bright side, the team finally has new ownership and should be a few strong drafts away from being a playoff contender.

San Antonio Spurs

Advantages: Youth, our team is very young and has a pretty up-tempo offense. This could cause problems for the Spurs who like to keep everything in their half court offense while avoiding transition play.

Disadvantages: Experience. The Spurs have several savvy, future Hall of Fame veterans and they know how to control games in crunch time. In addition, their bench is very deep as they boast both Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard in their second unit and they will likely be contenders again this postseason.

Utah Jazz

Advantages: The Jazz are a very inexperienced team after losing both Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson to free agency. They also currently have a huge hole at point guard right now with Trey Burke being sidelined with injury. Rubio will have a pretty big mismatch in driving to the lane and dishing out assists even with Burke on the floor. Utah is ranked 26th in the NBA in scoring so don’t expect them to score a lot of points on us.

Disadvantages: Utah likes to attack the rim and score points by slashing and creating opportunities at the charity stripe. It is critical we keep Utah contained and force them to take outside jump shots.