Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Miami Heat, 3/4/13

Photo Credit: REUTERS

Photo Credit: REUTERS

Setting the stage:

The hottest team in the league just so happens to be the best team in the league and the defending NBA champions; and they happen to be on their way to Minneapolis to take on our reeling Wolves.  Monday’s game will be broadcast on NBA TV for the masses to see, as the Heat come into the game with a 14 game winning streak.  The Wolves are the complete antithesis of the Heat right now, having lost 5 in a row and 21 of 25.

The Heat are putting distance between themselves and the rest of the Eastern Conference, building a 7+ game advantage over the rest of the conference over the past few weeks.  They look like the clear favorites to reach (and win) the NBA Finals.  LeBron is playing in another stratosphere this season and has shown no signs of slowing down.

The Heat took down the Wolves 103-92 in Miami on 12/18 and the game never felt as close as the final score would indicate.  The Wolves were nearly at full strength in that encounter and as you are likely well aware, that isn’t the case right now.  It is still to be determined whether or not Kirilenko will be ready to go Monday night, but the remaining Pups that missed Saturday’s game in Portland will all likely miss Monday’s game as well.

Derrick Williams has been one of the few bright spots over the past few weeks for the Timberwolves.  He will be asked to do a little bit of everything and much more in order for the Wolves to even remain competitive against the Heat.  It will also be interesting to see who he matches up with on the defensive end of the floor given the current starting lineup for the Heat.

Player to watch:

LeBron James – I don’t think we need to go very much further than just mentioning his name at this point, do we?  He’s only averaging 27 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists this season, so sit back and enjoy the greatest professional basketball player on the planet Monday night.  If AK47 isn’t ready to go, and even if he is, you might see a very special performance in the first three quarters of play.

Match-up to watch:

Luke Ridnour vs. Dwyane Wade.  I’m getting tired of picking Rubio and Pekovic for this section and who knows who else will be suiting up for the Wolves by the time tip-off comes.  Luke has been shooting the ball better as of late, but has the unenviable task of matching up against Wade on Monday night.  This could get ugly fast.

Predictions:

Even with the Heat playing Sunday against the Knicks and the Wolves having an off day, Minnesota is probably going to be about +1100 in Vegas.  This is likely to be a long night for Wolves fans.  My advice: try to enjoy watching the Heat.

Final score prediction: Twolves 84, Heat 98

Three stars of the game predictions:

  1. LeBron James
  2. Dwyane Wade
  3. Ricky Rubio

Let’s go Wolves!

Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves at Miami Heat

Lebron & D-Wade

Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell – US Presswire

The Timberwolves fell asleep last night in the second half in Orlando and ended their four game win streak.  The reward for this is having to play again Tuesday night in Miami against the NBA champions from last season.  Now for the really bad news; the team is going to likely play tonight’s game without Ricky Rubio.  The Wolves staff is trying to limit his minutes this early in his return and is looking to sit him down in back to back games.  After struggling in last night’s game in Orlando, it might be a good idea to continue this plan of attack with Ricky.

It seems like the one force that can stop the Heat are in fact, the Heat.  Perhaps they will take a mental health day and the Wolves can steal a victory.  Perhaps they won’t.  Either way, this should be an entertaining game to watch.  The Heat are 15-6 on the season, including 11-2 at American Airlines Arena.  They are 4th in the league in scoring at 103.1 ppg.  If Tuesday’s opponent has a flaw, it is in their rebounding and lack of a big man / bruiser in the paint.  The Heat have moved Lebron over to the PF spot and Bosh to Center this season, given their lack of talented big men.  That said, we’re talking about the greatest player on the planet right now and he’s still playing with two guys that are in the top thirty in the league.

Player to watch:

Alexey Shved – The rookie has been seeing extensive minutes over the past few weeks and was performing at a high level prior to last night’s stinker (1-8 from the field for 3 points, 5 assists, and 4 turnovers).  He has moved up to 5th place among rookies in scoring (10.6) and 2nd in assists (4.0).  Why is he the player to watch?  It will be interesting to see how he fares against Wade, Allen, and/or Chalmers.

Match-up to watch:

Nikola Pekovic vs. Chris Bosh.  Without Rubio (or a severely limited Rubio) the only way the Pups can pull this one off is if Pekovic can dominate the paint on both ends of the floor and get Bosh in foul trouble.  This is absolutely feasible but still wouldn’t guarantee a win.  Pekovic missed last season’s sole matchup against the Heat, which likely aided in Bosh’s 20-9-4 performance.

Predictions:

Sorry Pups fans, I can’t see how the team pulls off the upset without a fully healthy roster.

Final score prediction: Twolves 98, Heat 105

Three stars of the game predictions:

  1. Dwayne Wade
  2. Andrei Kirilenko
  3. LeBron James

Let’s go Wolves!

Timberwolves: Implications of a Batum Signing

The Timberwolves began NBA free agency in frenzy as the clock struck midnight on July 1, commencing their quest for veteran additions to their current nucleus by scheduling meetings with SG-SF Nicolas Batum, C Greg Stiemsma, former Portland SG Brandon Roy, and PF-C Jordan Hill. The Timberpups also reached out to the likes of SG Jamal Crawford, SG OJ Mayo, while remaining extremely active in trade discussions with the Los Angeles Lakers in hopes of landing PF Pau Gasol.

It appears that the Pups are as dedicated as any team in the NBA to land multiple high-profile players NOW, greatly reflecting their urgency to “win now,” as Minnesota head coach Rick Adelman is 66 and is likely in the middle of his final contract of his life, while Pups owner Glen Taylor is 71 and wants to see how far his current core group of players can take him before he sells the team in a few years. Whatever the sole cause, it is very uncharacteristic of the Wolves to be so very active in free agency while placing such great importance on attracting marquee names to the land of 10,000 lakes, and the Minnesota front office and coaching staff deserves much credit for their persistent efforts thus far. [Read more...]