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.

Recap: Wolves Drain Lakers, 113-90

Scattered about the web during, and before, the season — one phrase in particular lingers about the Minnesota Timberwolves fanbase; Wolves are Coming. Against the Los Angeles Lakers, under the lights and in front the sold out crowd of 19,000 at Staples Center, the Minnesota Timberwolves arrived on Sunday night.

The streak is over. Prior to last night, December 5th, 2005 was the last time the Wolves left Staples with a victory over the Lakers, they lost 22 consecutive games. Think about your life then, compare it to now. Yea — shocking. Because coaches and players are professionals it’s less likely that the streak continued because of failure to overcome a mental hurdle, however, this is Minnesota. Because pessimism and fatalism run rampant in the minds of Twins, Vikings, Wild and Wolves fans alike, the expectation of imminent failure and eventual disappointment lingers like gnats on the summer night of a beer-league softball game; will it be the Wolves that start to break the trend of negativity throughout the state? If something this monumental were to ever begin, the ball started rolling last night in L.A. It’s like the Lakers didn’t exist in the opening quarter.

Corey Brewer caught and finished an 85 foot outlet pass from Kevin Love.

Corey Brewer caught and finished an 85 foot outlet pass from Kevin Love.

 

Kevin Martin and Kevin Love ‘put on a clinic,’ as the cliche goes, shooting a combined 12 of 14 from the field, six of seven from downtown en route to scoring 34 of the team’s 47 points points in the first. Ricky Rubio, quietly (if it was possible for him to be low-key), assisted on seven baskets while snatching two rebounds and three steals. Rick Adelman and the Wolves offensive gameplan exposed Lakers’ center Chris Kaman, who was forced to defend Love on the perimeter, which isn’t easy, and K-Love had an easy time hitting 4 of 5 three-point attempts. K-Love, from the L.A. area, is outspoken whether it’s positive or negative and has been frank with his feelings since coming to Minnesota.

During the second quarter the bench continued it’s struggles and the Lakers outscored the Wolves 25-20, though many were still riding the high from the game’s first 12 minutes. Corey Brewer scored four, Nikola Pekovic had five, Martin added three and Love scored two as the J.J. Barea and Alexey Shved combined to score only four points; we’re left only to scratch our head and wait until the second-unit figured things out, it may not be until Chase Budinger returns.

The halftime lead was 67-48 and feelings of worry, unease and excitement continued to argue on the Twitter Machine. It’s as if nobody knows how to feel when the Wolves are beating the Lakers on the road. Love and Martin combined for 39 points including six more triples on nine attempts in addition to Brewer’s 10 points he obtained doing his usual thing in transition by the half. The Lakers made a push in the third behind the three-point shooting of Steve Blake. Again, the Wolves were outscored in a quarter, 23-28 and Blake converted three of four from downtown to continue fueling any pessimistic fire fearful of an eventual Minnesota Sports letdown. Dante Cunningham and Barea played just under four minutes each and the starting-five stayed on the floor, hinting at Adelman’s lack of confidence in anyone sitting to his left.

“We’re trying to establish ourselves, I don’t want to get our guys playing 45 minutes a night but I wanted to win” Adelman said after the game.

 

At the start of the final quarter his bench had only amounted to four, seemingly meaningless, points and the Wolves led 90-76. Blake and Jodie Meeks led the way for the Lakers, if there was a place to go, with 19 and 14 respectively. The crowd began to clear during the final quarter close to the eight minute mark, the show was over and it was time to head home. Rubio earned his second-career triple-double and took a seat shortly after, ending with a stat line of 12 points, 10 rebounds, 14 assists and 5 steals — nobody gave a ‘quadruple double alert,’ though it had been mentioned throughout the second half. The Wolves defeated the Lakers, 113-90 in a 23 point, no-doubt, show-stopping performance under the lights and accolades hanging in the rafters at Staples — success that started in the state represented by the visitors.

It’s a franchise guy, potential MVP and league superstar like Love that needs to perform well in order to change the culture of a city and it’s fans. The Vikings’ Adrian Peterson, the NFL’s MVP last season, is an example of an athlete that optimists in the Twin Cities hold tight to in ‘turning perspective around,’ he’s not due to be a free-agent until 2018. Love’s situation, and dominance, isn’t proven to be the same as “All Day’s” yet, K-Love will be a free-agent in the summer of 2015 — fans of the Lakers twisted his performance last night into ‘The Audition” for his eventual arrival back to the City of Angels.

How long will Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love be the All-Star Tandem in Twin Cities?

How long will Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love be the All-Star Tandem in Twin Cities?

 

It’s about winning, period. Players, fans, coaches and even writers such as myself want to see local teams succeed whether it’s against or with the odds. Heading into last night the Wolves were the better team on paper, during the game they were on the court but Laker faithful and even some local skeptics refuse to accept one thing — the Wolves are here. They’ll play the Los Angeles Clippers tonight, 9:30 CST (Fox Sports North)

 

Zach.

 

 

(Photos are from the Minnesota Timberwolves website and may be found in the photo gallery)

Timberpups Weekly Preview: Part One, Week Three

Last week John previewed the week ahead for the Wolves because, here at Timberpups, we do week previews — not game previews. Well, sometimes we do game previews but we try to feature guests on those to gain some outside perspective; Trisity Miller (@Trisity_) will join us tomorrow previewing the Wolves matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers. Ms. Miller is a Staff Writer as well as Editor of FullyClips.com, THE Clippers Blog of Sports Illustrated’s Fansided Network. Like Zach Oliver and Brandon Rushie before her, we’re happy to have some perspective, on and from outside, of Wolves Nation.
If you’re a writer who covers an upcoming Wolves opponent and would like to participate in our previews, shoot me an email or DM — Zwbd333@gmail.com or @ZacharyBD. Also, we’re not opposed to fan posts — if you’re a regular reader here at the PupsBlog, we’d love to hear your opinions pertaining to our favorite team.

Tonight the Wolves play the first of back-to-back games at Staples Center against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Here’s John’s take on tonight’s matchup from his Week Two preview.

This will be Wolves’ fans first opportunity to see the almighty Wes Johnson in purple and gold.  Have I mentioned him in the past?  I think I have.  While we won’t see Kobe Bryant, I still think this team can tread water for a while.  This past Friday night, the team stayed with Duncan-less Spurs and almost pulled it out.

Opponent to watch:

Wes Johnson – Just kidding, unless you want to induce a coma.

I’m not sure why he’s previewing tonight’s game, it’s Sunday today which means that a new week has started but John will be John.Since we’re not afraid of self-promotion here, here’s a tweet of mine from earlier today.

 

It’s been since March 6th of 2007, four days removed from my 17th birthday, since the Wolves last win over the Los Angeles Lakers (I’m 23, for those too lazy to do the math). The last time the team won in Staples Center, against the Lakers (Clippers play there, too), was December 5th, 2005. Yea, that’s when I was 15-years of age! Today is November 10th, 2013 and it’s time for the Pups snap these -undesirable- losing streaks.

Projected Laker Starters:

  • Nick Young
  • Chris Kahman
  • Pau Gasol
  • Steve Blake
  • Steve Nash

It’s not a laughable bunch that will start the game for the ‘Lake Show’, however, L.A’s bench unit is deserving of some praise. Against tomorrow night’s opponent tomorrow night, Jordan Farmar, Xavier Henry, Jordan Hill, Wesley Johnson (a former Timberpup) and Jodie Meeks scored 66 points in a shocking upset of the Clippers in the season opener. This Laker-five played the entire fourth quarter, scoring 41 points en route to defeating the stadium-sharing rival, 116-103.

Against the Dallas Mavericks we saw Rick Adelman try some different things to make up for his bench unit’s dismal scoring, keeping Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin on the floor for a bit longer than Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and Corey Brewer. Adelman’s played Alexey Shved, until the Shvedder shows he’s struggling or does something that warrants him off the floor — I expect him to stick to a similar strategy tonight.

Shved's struggling this season: Averaging only two and a half points per game and failing to shoot 30 percent from, both, inside and outside the three-point line.

Shved’s struggling this season: Averaging only two and a half points per game and failing to shoot 30 percent from, both, inside and outside the three-point line.

 

Monday, the Wolves face the Clippers — we’ll bring you more in depth information tomorrow with Trisity but here’s a few bullets on the ‘Clips.

  • Doc Rivers is now head coach, he’s called for the removal of Laker banners in the Staples Center during Clipper home games.

“This is our arena when we play,” when asked about the banners. “So I just thought it would be good that we show our guys. No disrespect to them (Lakers). But when we play, it’s the Clippers’ arena as far as I know.”

  • The Clippers offense ranks first in the league in points per game — they’re piling 110 on opponents
  • Oh, if you weren’t aware — Chris Paul is really, really good.

If you’re a follower of my work personally, you may have seen my Pacific Division previews for SavingTheSkyhook.com. Saving the Skyhook, like FullyClips, is part of SI’s Fansided Blog network. I combined the preview for the Lakers and Clippers into one piece — read it here. (Sorry more self-promotion, it just fits for this week in Wolves basketball)

Pek shook his struggles off Friday against the Mavericks, he scored 15 points on 44 percent shooting and tallied six rebounds in addition to three-blocks.

Pek shook his struggles off Friday against the Mavericks, he scored 15 points on 44 percent shooting and tallied six rebounds in addition to three-blocks.

I’m hoping to the Wolves split or sweep these two games in L.A, they return home for a rematch against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night. The Cavs won a thriller against the Philadelphia 76ers last night, 127-125. They face the Chicago Bulls tomorrow and will have an off-day before having to play in Minnesota. Neither team will be on the tail end of a back-to-back, there shouldn’t be any excuse for the Wolves this time. Read what happened in last Sunday’s meeting between Cleveland and Minnesota — here.

Irving led the Cavs to a victory last week with 15 points and 6 assists, though he also had 8 turnovers -- the Wolves hope gain revenge Wednesday

Irving led the Cavs to a victory last week with 15 points and 6 assists, though he also had 8 turnovers — the Wolves hope gain revenge Wednesday

 

On Tuesday I’ll check back in and go over the Wolves trip to Los Angeles beyond our recaps that will follow the outcome of each game. That’s when we’ll take a closer look at the Cavs, Denver Nuggets- and Boston Celtics. The Wolves are in Denver on Friday and travel home to face the C’s on Saturday, after that they’ll have three days before their next game.

For now, #BeatLA.

Zach.

 

(Photos are from the Minnesota Timberwolves website and may be found in the photo gallery)

 

 

 

 

Ronny Turiaf Suffers Fracture

The Timberwolves announced today that Turiaf, who signed with the team during the offseason, suffered a radical fracture to his right elbow during last night’s 100-81 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder (More on that later).

The following is from the website of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS)

  • Pain on the outside of the elbow
  • Swelling in the elbow joint
  • Difficulty in bending or straightening the elbow accompanied by pain
  • Inability or difficulty in turning the forearm (palm up to palm down or vice versa)

There are three types of fractures and different ways of treating each. Even the simplest of fractures will probably result in some loss of extension in the elbow. Regardless of the type of fracture or the treatment used, physical therapy will be needed before resuming full activities.

  • Type I fractures are generally small, like cracks, and the bone pieces remain fitted together.
  • Type II fractures are slightly displaced and involve a larger piece of bone.
  • Type III fractures have multiple broken pieces of bone, which cannot be fitted back together for healing.

Turiaf will be evaluated later next week before a timetable is placed on his return. He may miss anywhere from three to six weeks.The Wolves lose on his presence on the court, but off the court will still have his veteran leadership.

 

Welcome Gorgui Dieng to the rotation.

Dieng averaged nearly 13 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks, per 40 minutes, in his final season with the Louisville Cardinals. He ranked 23rd in the NCAA blocks per game, helping the Cardinals boaster the number-one ranked defense in the nation. The season before he averaged just short five blocks per game, eighth most in the country. He’s not quite reached game-speed during his breif time with the Wolves, but was able to average two blocks per game during the preseason.

On offense.

Dieng shot 53 percent from the field last year with Louisville. He scored on 28 percent of possessions with his back to the basket and 48 percent on possessions in which he drove to the basket or attempted a jump shot. (per DraftExpress)

Hopefully we’ll get the same shot-altering presence Dieng provided Louisville  will be the same presence defensively; the Cardinals were Champions of the the NCAA Tournament last season.

 

gorgui-dieng-260x185

Game One: Orlando Magic Preview

For the season opener against the Orlando Magic, Timberpups welcomes Zach Oliver! Oliver is a good friend of mine who covers the Magic for www.BallerMindFrame.com. The link to his author profile is here (http://www.ballermindframe.com/author/zoliver8812/) and you can follow him on Twitter for more Magic News, NBA chatter and some of the finest nonsense on the internet today — his handle is @ZOliver8812   .

 

Zach, hope all is well — I have a few questions about tonight’s game.

First, there was lots of hope and little speculation the Wolves would trade up to try and land guard Victor Oladipo out of Indiana University, how is he doing?

 

Oladipo just picked up playing point guard in the Orlando Summer League, after playing mostly the two guard spot throughout college at Indiana. His game is better suited playing off-ball guard but he’s developing ball handling skills and won’t hurt the current rebuilding process in Orlando. If he works out, great! We’ll have the point guard for the future and If not — he’ll be a fine secondary ball handler and continue growth as a two-guard.

How’d he play last night? How did the Magic perform in games played on back-to-back nights last season?

 

In his debut last night, Victor Oladipo looked good. While his stat line may not be something that makes you say “wow,” he was very solid. He struggled some with his shot, but he looked comfortable out there. Kid’s going to be special, he brings such high energy and physicality to the game each time he steps on court. Once he finds his niche, and a comfort level, he’ll be stuffing the stat sheets and growing in Magic fans hearts night in and night out.

 

As for back-to-backs… It wasn’t pretty for the Magic last season. They went an abysmal 3-9 in the second game of back-to-backs. The team opened up last night in Indiana against a tough Pacers squad, so thing’s could be rough early on. Remember, the Magic made their sole trip to Minnesota early last season on the second night of a back-to-back and lost 90-75.

 

What matchups will you be watching closely?

There’s two different matchups that I’ll be watching closely tonight. The Magic have a lot of intriguing young players who will be challenged night-in and night-out. The two I’ll be watching closely tonight is the battles at power forward, and when the aforementioned Oladipo is on court.

 

Kevin Love vs Enter Magic Power Forward

 

With Glen Davis out, the Magic have a question as to who will be the starting power forward throughout the season. Tobias Harris finished last season as the starter after he was acquired from the Milwaukee Bucks at the trade deadline. Harris showcased his scoring ability and versatility in his short time with the team. While it’s hard to not start your best scorer, it might be the best for the team to bring him off the bench in a backup role at both forward positions.

Last years first round pick, Andrew Nicholson, showed some promise on the offensive end last season. However, he struggled mightely on the defensive side, and is a below average rebounder. While center Nikola Vucevic can help mask his poor rebounding numbers, there will be times when Love gets away from him and is able feast on the boards. Love would be a matchup nightmare for the youngster, so he might be best suited in the second unit.

 

Possibly the best matchup and healthy defender at the position for the team, Jason Maxiell, could slide in and grab the start. The team brought him in to add toughness to the teams soft interior defense, and while he might be better off coming off the bench, he’d be the best one to bang down low with Love.

 

The final candidate to see some minutes at the four would be second year big Kyle O’Quinn. The team experimented with him starting at the four next to Vucevic, but it’s less than ideal to start both together. O’Quinn is not afraid to go down low and bang his body around, but he has a problem with fouls, and he’s really the best option to play center with the second unit.

 

Victor Oladipo vs Ricky Rubio

 

Two exciting young guys going head-to-head. How could you not want to watch this!? Rubio could be the best passer that Oladipo is forced to guard this season, and it’s an early matchup for the possible defensive stopper. He’s got a good IQ while out there and is possibly the team’s best perimeter defender also. Will Oladipo take advantage of his size and take Rubio into the post more and try to score with his back to the basket or will he try to take him off the dribble more? There’s a lot of intriguing storylines to watch with this matchup.

 

Now, Zach, I have some questions about you and your Timberwolves.

How important is it for the Timberwolves to get a win tonight?

 

For those in attendance tonight, including myself — it’s very important. The Timberpups have high expectations this season, not only here in Minnesota, but around the league. If this club wants to a be a threat to make the postseason, they’ll need to beat the weaker teams in both conferences — tonight’s a chance to take care of business against a weaker Eastern Conference foe playing the tail end of back-to-back road games.

 

What can we expect out of the small forward position with Chase Budinger out for the foreseeable future?

 

Derrick Williams, Robbie Hummel and Dante Cunningham started the final three preseason games at the 3 spot, respectively, for the Wolves. Tonight’s the first chance any of us will get to see how Adelman addresses the SF position. Provided coach doesn’t go completely unorthodox, Corey Brewer will get the nod and will be relieved by Williams, Cunningham and maybe rookie 14th overall draft pick -Shabazz Muhammad- gets out there tonight. There’s so many groups of five that we could see, tonight’s game may tell us a lot about the Wolves future regarding the SF position.

 

How does Budinger fit in with the team once he returns?

 

If and when ‘Bud’ returns he’ll be eased back into the lineup, slowly, because that’s how basketball injuries go. It’s a tough question to answer simply because he had his knee repaired but during training camp, things started swelling again, leaving us with the question — did he ever really recover? Dr. James Andrews removed around 75 percent of the meniscus and a hopeful timetable for Budinger’s return would be Christmas, but I’m just unsure. He’ll be part of the small forward by committee with Brewer, Williams and Muhammad and Adelman will use him where he thinks is best.

 

In terms of matchups, Zach, you’ve hit it right on the head. I’m going to keep an eye on Oladipo because of the speculation and the ambitious thought that he could have ended up in Minnesota. Whether he’s up against Kevin Martin or Rubio, he’s got his hands full defensively. Rubio will give him more fits on the offensive side of the ball than Martin will, ‘K-Mart’ will be less to handle defensively for V.O., Ricky might shred him up, if he’s not up to the task.

 

What’s your expectations from Ricky Rubio, not only tonight, but going forward this season?

 

Numbers wise, I hope he can average 15 points and 10 assists per game but I’m not big on predictions. If he’s healthy, he’s a threat to lead the league in assists, steals and possibly the non-existent ‘comeback player of the year award’ — that’s if Love doesn’t steal away all the spotlight from the Spanish Unicorn.

Production wise, Ricky’s going to do what it takes to win basketball games. He’s not afraid to take the big shot, as we saw last year against the Clippers when he tied the game with less than a minute remaining after hitting a corner-three, he’s a relentless defender and, half, of the face of this Timberwolves franchise. He needs to stay healthy, more than anything — that’s the key. (edit reminder)

 

Zach, this has been fun, do the Magic and the Wolves play any more times this season?

 

Yes, Saturday April 5th in Orlando.

 

The game will be aired at 7:00PM CST on FSNorth and 830AM WCCO Wolves Radio. Follow @TimberpupsBlog for live-tweets but JUST COMMENT IN THE FORUM BECAUSE IT’S GOING TO BE FUN.

Phew, sorry.

Wolves are going to win tonight, not only on the court — but which one would you rather have? Seriously?