Setting the stage:
The quest for an 82-0 season fell quickly in the season opener in Memphis this past week for the Timberwolves. However, it feels like there are a good number of positives to build upon with the 1-2 club. The Pups hit the road this week for a three game trip that will take them to Brooklyn and then through the state of Florida.
If nothing else, the Timberwolves have been very competitive in their first three games of the season. They kept the game tight against the Grizzlies, pulled away from the Pistons for the home opener, and lost a heartbreaker against a Derrick Rose-less Bulls squad. The Wolves are averaging 101 points per game and are getting contributions from virtually everyone on the roster.
If the action on the floor wasn’t enough, the Wolves’ front office gave the fanbase another reason to celebrate, announcing that the club came to terms with Ricky Rubio on a four year contract extension worth $55 million. Rubio is now locked up through the 2018/19 season and allows the team to start focusing on how it builds around Andrew Wiggins and the Spanish Point Guard. Rubio celebrated his new contract with a 17 assist game on Saturday night against the Bulls.
Game 4: Wednesday, 11/5, 6:30pm – Pups @ Brooklyn Nets (TV: FS North)
The Nets open this week with a 1-1 record and will have their home opener on Monday night against a depleted OKC Thunder squad. With three full days off, the Wolves should be fresh for Wednesday’s action.
Wolves fans will likely get to see ex-Timberwolf Andrei Kirilenko on the court, but there is “probably” someone a little more interesting to keep an eye on …
Opponent to watch:
Kevin Garnett – I probably wrote the same thing last year, but this is one of two chances to see KG suit up against his former club. There is no acceptable reason to miss this game as a Wolves fan.
Game 5: Friday, 11/7, 6pm – Pups @ Orlando Magic (TV: FS North)
The Magic were dealt an early season blow when they announced that Victor Oladipo would miss the start of the season with a facial fracture. The team is 0-3 entering the week ahead and is struggling to put points on the board.
Opponent to watch:
Nikola Vucevic – One player that isn’t struggling for the Magic is Vucevic, averaging 17.7 points and 15.7 rebounds per game, highlighted by an opening night 23 rebounds in New Orleans.
Game 6: Saturday, 11/8, 6:30pm – Pups @ Miami Heat (TV: FS North)
The Wolves will finish up their three game road trip in Miami. Unfortunately for the Pups, they will be heading into this game as the second of a back-to-back, while the Heat will have been off since a Wednesday night game in Charlotte. The Heat are 2-0 heading into a Sunday night game against the Raptors.
Opponent to watch:
Chris Bosh – Through two games, Bosh is averaging 26 points and 15 rebounds per game. Perhaps exiting a little bit of a shadow, the Heat will be relying on Bosh to bring this type of production to the floor every night.
If the Pups can continue the competitive spirit they brought to the court in the first week of the season, the club will continue to slowly but surely gain attention around the league. “Solid but not spectacular” might be the best way to describe the action thus far.
Items that I like thus far:
- Gorgui Dieng has been incredibly productive in a limited role
- Despite an even more limited role than Dieng, Anthony Bennett has played very well
Things that I don’t like right now:
- Zach LaVine’s minutes or lack thereof
- Chase Budinger is really struggling in his (very) limited role
- Seeing Thaddeus Young go down in Saturday’s game after several productive performances to start the season
Let’s go Wolves! Who or what has caught your attention in the first week of the season?