Setting the stage:
For those of you looking for a quick read/preview of tonight’s game against the Raptors, click here. At worst, the Timberpups will enter week 20 with a .500 record. From a 30,000 foot view, the week ahead is another great chance for the Wolves to make up some ground on the Mavericks and/or Suns. However, those teams keep chugging along. Friday night’s action was a little insane for both the Wolves and Mavs who had 30+ point advantages and almost blew their performances by allowing their opponents to come back into the game.
The Wolves’ defense needs to vastly improve over what they have been doing over the past few weeks. Only once in the last seven games (again, this is ahead of Sunday’s game) have the Wolves held their opponent under 100 points; and it isn’t like the team has been playing a murderers’ row of opponents on the schedule (like their late November, early December schedule).
The Pups can’t lose a game this week. There is no room left for a letdown game. After a Monday night game against the Clippers, the Suns will play six games in a row against Eastern Conference opponents. Read: the schedule eases up for them. The Mavs’ schedule looks to be a bit more daunting this coming week with games in Golden State and OKC (as well as Utah).
So here we go with less than 20 games remaining on the schedule. Can the Wolves pull it off? It starts off with …
Game 64: Tuesday, 3/11, 7pm – Milwaukee Bucks @ Timberpups (TV: FS North)
Suffice it to say that the Bucks are not very good. They are floating around the .200 line in terms of win percentage and are merely 30+ games behind the Indiana Pacers for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Progress. Can we please move this team to Seattle under new ownership? This would also give the Wolves another opportunity to petition the league for switching conferences. Is anyone reading this against this plan?!
Opponent to watch:
Brandon Knight – Statistically speaking, Knight is having a pretty good season. Clearly, it isn’t leading to many victories. We’ll see how Ricky Rubio and JJ Barea look to contain Knight and his new PG brethren, Ramon Sessions.
Bucks in six? If the Pups lose this one, board up the Target Center and start working on renovations. Final score: Timberwolves 109, Bucks 95
Game 65: Friday, 3/14, 6pm – Timberpups @ Charlotte Bobcats (TV: FS North)
The Wolves’ home-stand ends with a trip to Charlotte to take on the Bobcats. Charlotte will be coming in off of a game Wednesday night in Washington so they should be equally rested. The Pups destroyed the Bobcats in Minnesota in early January and there is nothing to suggest the results should be different for this game – unless you believe in the Bobcats ~.500 record at home this season.
Opponent to watch:
Al Jefferson – Al is back! Jefferson is putting up the normal 20+ppg/10+rpg … and his team remains under .500. No, I am not pinning this on Al, it is just an interesting correlation that continues to rear its ugly head. Will Kevin Love go off when facing his former mentor in Minnesota?
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Wolves drop this one, and I won’t be surprised if I’m bitching out JJ Barea while it happens. That said, I’m going to go with … Final score: Timberwolves 112, Bobcats 105
Game 66: Sunday, 3/16, 6pm – Sacramento Kings @ Timberpups (TV: FS North)
Sunday’s game will conclude a 7 game road trip for the Kings and they are playing Saturday night in Chicago. Congratulations Timberwolves, you were finally handed a scheduling “gimme”. Now, don’t screw this up on your home court like that Knicks game from this past week.
Opponent to watch:
Isaiah Thomas – In two games thus far this season, Thomas has lit up the Wolves to the tune of 24ppg and 7.5apg, while shooting a scorching 59% from the field.
Again, the end of a long road tour for the Kings, who are playing in less meaningful games right now than the Wolves. (See what I did there?) Final score: Timberwolves 116, Kings 105
This week and the one prior really could have been the time for the Wolves to spark a little more excitement as we go through March. Unfortunately, that Knicks loss at Target Center was simply deflating. In any case, let’s go Wolves!