Timberpups Weekly Preview 2014 – Week 6

Wolves will face both 2012 Conference Champions this week!   (Photo credit: sportsillustrated.cnn.com)

Wolves will face both 2012 Conference Champions this week!
(Photo credit: sportsillustrated.cnn.com)

Setting the stage:

After two tough weeks of games with a number of back to back series, the Timberwolves enter Week 6 under the .500 mark with a 9-10 record.  They are looking at a pretty soft schedule this week … but only in terms of the number of games being played.  Why is that?  Our Timberpups will travel to Mexico City for a “home game” to take on the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday, 12/4, and then travel home to face the Miami Heat on 12/7.  Sounds like a fun week, right?  [Read more…]

2013/2014 Eastern Conference Preview


It has been the Heat's Conference recently, does that change in 2014?

It has been the Heat’s Conference recently, does that change in 2014?


Last week we previewed the (stacked) Western Conference and now it is time to tackle the East.  The Miami Heat look to make it not one, not two, but three conference championships in a row.  Can they do it?  Who can rise to the occasion?  Who is at the bottom of the barrel?  Let’s start there …

15. Philadelphia 76ers: I find it glorious that for David Stern’s final season, there is a team with enough charisma to say, “Here we are … tanking in all its glory” from the day the draft took place all the way through the trading deadline.  Where will Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young wind up?  I’m not sure they care, as long as it is out of Philly.  While I like what Philly did on draft night acquiring Noel and MCW, there is no hope for this team in 2013/14.  Zero.  Zilch.

14. Orlando Magic: Victor Oladipo is very likely going to be a very good NBA player, but this team lacks talent across its frontcourt.  If they can find a taker for Jameer Nelson during the season, they might give the Sixers a run for their money on ping pong balls.

13. Cleveland Cavaliers: Dan Gilbert wants this team in the playoffs, yet continues to do the strangest things on draft night.  I love Kyrie Irving, I just wish he played almost anywhere else in the league.  Cavs fans have to hope that Michael Bennett doesn’t eat himself out of the league (not a ringing endorsement for the #1 pick of the draft) and rely on getting something from Andrew Bynum and/or Anderson Varejao.  This isn’t going to end well.

12. Boston Celtics: The Celtics are rebuilding but I can’t put them any lower than this, given what you just read.  In fact, I actually wanted to put them a little bit higher, but figure this seems about right if Danny Ainge wakes up one day and says, “You know what, we are too good to get enough ping pong balls, Rondo needs to go”.  Rajon Rondo and the supporting cast (Jeff Green, Courtney Lee) are good enough to stay ahead of the prior three teams.

11. Charlotte Bobcats: On paper, this is a pretty intriguing team that you might want to keep an eye on, but then you remember it is the Bobcats.  They have a serviceable rotation of guards, signed Big Al Jefferson, and I love MKG.  Then I remember that they are the Bobcats and just drafted Cody Zeller at #4 ahead of a handful of others that would have been a nice fit.  Would the real Bismack Biyombo please stand up this season?

10. Detroit Pistons: This is going to be fun, right?  Right?!  Chauncey Billups returning to Detroit and trying to lead the Pistons with Brandon Jennings, Josh Smith, and Andre Drummond.  At what point does Billups flat out retire?  It would be great if he just walked out of the locker room at halftime to never come back.  This is where we start thinking about teams that could sneak their way into the Eastern Conference playoffs … with 35 wins.

9. Toronto Raptors: Another team that is intriguing on paper and then you give yourself a reality check on second glance.  Do you want Kyle Lowry as your starting PG?  Is DeMar DeRozan ever going to turn it on?  How much of a leap is Jonas Valanciunas really going to make in one year?  Is Rudy Gay just going to shoot 33% from the field this year on 1,500 shots?  Sorry, no playoffs for this franchise.

PLAYOFF TEAMS                                                                                                                               

8. Washington Wizards: Relying on the health of an already injured Emeka Okafor may not be the wisest strategy, but there is too much talent here to not make the playoffs in the East.  John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter Jr. (another great pick from the Wizards front office?), and enough able bodies for big men.  If you go to their second unit, you have some defensive studs as well with Singleton and Ariza on the wing.  This could be a team to keep an eye on and is already on my League Pass watch-list.

7. Milwaukee Bucks: Every year I get sucked in and every year there is disappointment.  Where OJ Mayo goes, so does some bizarre allegiance to overrate the team he’s playing on.  That bus landed in Milwaukee this year.  I like their big men as a group, but not any particular individual.  You have ex-Wolf Luke Ridnour and Brandon Knight as the PG’s and Gary Neal as the fourth wheel in the backcourt.  It will be interesting to see what they get out of the SF position where the Bucks have two wily veterans in Caron Butler and Carlos Delfino.  This roster is good enough to make the playoffs.  (Until it isn’t)

6. New York Knicks: Look at how the NY Giants football season is going and that is what I would like to predict for the Knicks.  However, they have too much talent for the Eastern Conference to go any lower than this.  They will play .500 ball and get into the playoffs with ease.  Here’s what I like about the team: Tyson Chandler, from a few years ago.  That’s it.  There is nothing on this roster that I like.  Despite his gaudy numbers, there is virtually nothing Carmelo can do to not make me believe that he is an underachiever; outside of taking less than max money in his next contract and deferring to another star in order to win a championship.

5. Atlanta Hawks: This is my Eastern Conference “I have no idea where to put this team, so they are going here”.  I cannot give a team home court advantage in round 1 of the playoffs if that is my general feeling towards the team, so they land at #5.  Love the Paul Millsap and Al Horford combination, like Jeff Teague, but have no idea what to think of their rotation of wings.  The Hawks’ wings really just need to fill roles though, right?  That should be good enough for a .500+ record and another trip to the postseason, only to be quickly disposed by the …

4. Chicago Bulls: We’ll get to this when we go through the playoff brackets later, but I see the Bulls coasting through the regular season, monitoring Derrick Rose’s minutes, resting him occasionally, etc. This team is tough as nails and will do what is necessary to get to right around the 50 win mark.  It won’t be pretty, we won’t enjoy it when they beat up the Wolves in the paint, but this team will get it done.

3. Brooklyn Nets: Prokhorov’s tax bill is “a bit” much, but you have to love an owner that is willing to spend any and all money possible to put together a championship contender.  Unfortunately for the Nets, there are too many stronger teams that will grind this team out of the playoffs at some point.  Deron Williams has a lot to prove and I see this team putting together a very strong regular season due to all of the veterans in the locker room.

Best of luck to KG in Brooklyn and a big “kudos” for the Big Ticket in wearing the #2 jersey with the Nets – in memory of Malik Sealy.  I might have to drag myself to the Barclay’s Center to see KG one last time in person.

2. Indiana Pacers: The country finally got to see who Paul George was and what this Pacers roster is all about in last year’s playoffs.  I don’t expect them to digress whatsoever.  In fact, if Danny Granger can stay healthy and Luis Scola provides quality backup minutes at the PF/C spots, this team is very, very dangerous.  Quite honestly, I love this team.

(You didn’t think I would talk about the Pacers and not mention David Kahn’s selection of Wesley Johnson over Paul George, did you?  The worst lottery pick the franchise has ever made.  The worst … and the bar is pretty ‘high’ for that proclamation.  THE WORST!  Let’s move on before my blood pressure pills start wearing off …)

1. Miami Heat: The Heat won something like 75 games in a row (it was 27) last season and the NBA Championship.  You know the story and the cast of characters.  Until someone knocks them off the pedestal, it is hard to place them anywhere else.

Which brings us to the playoffs, based on the seeds above.  Here is how I see the Eastern Conference Playoffs unfolding:

Eastern Conference

The top four teams in the East are light-years ahead of the rest of the conference, so they should all advance pretty easily out of the first round – unless you like the Knicks.  Then things get very interesting.  As mentioned above, I think the Bulls take it “easy” in the regular season a bit but knock out the defending champs, which sets up a close to epic battle against the Pacers.  I simply believe it is the Pacers time.

The early exit for the Heat leads to about 15 million stories and rumors about LeBron heading back to Cleveland, to the Lakers, etc. etc.  That’s going to be a lot of fun!

What do you think?  Is it too early to dethrone the Heat?  Do they have another trophy coming?  What are your surprise or disappointment teams in the conference?  Let us know below!

Analyzing How The Timberwolves Stack Up In The Western Conference

Is a core of Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic strong enough to carry Minnesota to the playoffs? (Brace Hemmelgarn, Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports)

Is a core of Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic strong enough to carry Minnesota to the playoffs? (Brace Hemmelgarn, Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports)

So far this offseason, the Minnesota Timberwolves have made a splash in both the draft and free agency. The Wolves started things off by drafting first-round picks Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng, both of whom could provide solid minutes off the bench this next season while being potential  future starters. Shabazz has a high ceiling due to his play-making abilities on offense and Dieng has the body to become an elite defender in the NBA.

In free agency, the Timberwolves were able to sign UFA Kevin Martin to a four year, $28 million deal to fill the void as the new starter at shooting guard. The former sixth man from OKC brings perimeter shooting that the Wolves desperately need as he shot a tremendous 43% from behind the arc last season. In addition, the Wolves were able to bring back RFA Chase Budinger who also brings strong perimeter shooting and an extensive knowledge of Rick Adelman’s corner offense. In addition, former Timberwolves lottery pick Corey Brewer is also back to help replace some of Andrei Kirilenko‘s defensive versatility after playing an integral part to Denver’s terrific season in 2012-13. It is safe to say that Flip Saunders has assembled a very talented offensive roster that could very well make a playoff push come next spring.

Remaining on the agenda is the status of RFA Nikola Pekovic, who has still not found common ground with Timberwolves brass on a long-term deal that could keep the Montenegrin in Minnesota for another four seasons. Despite the current lack of a deal, it remains unlikely that Pekovic decides to leave millions on the table and instead signing his one year tender that would pay him around $6 million this season while allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. It remains very unlikely that Pek signs his one year tender as he would be taking a significant risk walking away from a $50+ million contract, especially considering his injury history. It will be very important for Flip to find common ground with Pek’s camp in order to find a mutually beneficial resolution to the extended negotiations, given how important of a piece he will be for Minnesota this season and in the future.

Is it be possible that this may be an inopportune time for the Wolves to significantly improve? As ridiculous as that may sound, let us take a peek at next season. With the hard cap created in the latest CBA, there are significant ramifications that result from the luxury tax largely as it applies to small market franchises. As it stands right now, the Timberwolves will have very little flexibility going forward for adding any more high-impact players. If their free agent additions fail to produce or if injuries continue to plague the team as they have in previous seasons, the Pups may miss out on both a playoff spot and a high spot in the draft. That would not bode well for the future of the team as the 2014 NBA Draft is considered by many experts to be the best draft in the past decade. The draft boasts high-end talent that includes Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, Marcus Smart, Joel Embiid, Dario Saric, Chris Walker, Aaron Gordan, Gary Harris, and the Harrison twins. There is a chance that multiple teams may draft their next superstar with a high selection, but having a pick in the 10-14 range would mean missing out on both a postseason run and a top end talent. With all of the talent and depth the Wolves have accumulated, it is very likely that Minnesota will miss out on players that could fundamentally change the franchise. As Minnesota is in clear win-now mode, it is somewhat unfortunate that the first time in a decade that the team does not appear in the NBA lottery may very well end up being the most important lottery to be apart of.

It is interesting to note that the last time the Timberwolves made a significant run in the playoffs in 2003, it ended up being arguably the greatest draft class in NBA history. Just look at some of these names: LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and David West were some of the players selected before Minnesota who held the 26th overall pick. They ultimately selected Ndudi Ebi, who proved to be a completely useless asset for the franchise. While it is not guaranteed that 2014 will bring as many studs as 2003 did, it is initially alarming to think about history repeating itself.

The Western Conference currently boasts a highly competitive group of teams that will make it increasingly difficult to make it to the postseason. At the top there are the unquestionable contenders, including the Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, Memphis Grizzlies, Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets. The Thunder have arguably two of the top five best players in the NBA with Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.  The Spurs are coming off of an NBA Finals defeat in which they played the Miami Heat incredibly close despite ultimately coming up short. However, they will be returning all of their core players and should be a force yet again next season. The Grizzlies have only added pieces around their core and remain one of the most defensively oriented teams in the NBA, a strength that makes them one of the most unique teams in the league. Coming off of their memorable playoff run, Golden State was able to add a new starting small forward in All-Star Andre Igoudala to complement their sharp-shooting backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. The Clippers took care of their offseason priorities by re-signing Chris Paul while also addressing their needs at shooting guard by signing sharpshooter JJ Redick away from Milwaukee. Los Angeles also gained depth at small forward after trading for swingman Jared Dudley. Houston made arguably the biggest addition of the summer after signing Dwight Howard and have now positioned themselves as a championship contender with the addition of the best center in the NBA. Pairing Dwight with Chandler Parsons and James Harden will be interesting to observe to say the least.

Fighting for the final spots in the West with the Wolves will likely be between the Portland Trail Blazers, Dallas Mavericks, New Orleans Pelicans and the Denver Nuggets. The Portland’s young lineup is set to make a playoff run this season as they are bringing back their entire starting five. Dallas and New Orleans have both completely revamped their rosters and should be the biggest wildcards of the Western Conference, while Denver has undergone a complete turnover of their management and coaching staff while losing a number of key players. Obviously, as shown by the Los Angeles Lakers last season it is nearly impossible to predict the playoff standings. It is no guarantee that even with their improved roster and a full season of good health from both Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love, there is enough competition and talent in the West to keep Minnesota from snapping their streak of missing the postseason.

In the end, I am happy that the Wolves are going to be a competitive ball club next season. It’s about DAMN time! But there is always a price to being competitive that could negatively impact our future, just as it did in 2003.

Minnesota Timberwolves 81, Miami Heat 97

AP Photo/Jim Mone

AP Photo/Jim Mone

Game Summary

Well, that was fun.  The Miami Heat visited the Twin Cities and left with another victory, their 15th win in a row this season.  The Timberwolves brought a lot of effort but their shorthanded staff really hurt Monday night and honestly, no one should really be surprised.  Here is how the game transpired.

The Pups were still without Pekovic and Kirilenko – to go along with the ‘regulars’ who have missed significant time this season.  The starting five for the Wolves was the same from Saturday night in Portland and included Rubio, Ridnour, Gelabale, Williams, and Stiemsma.  No surprises from the Heat, who opened up with Mario Chalmers, Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh.

The game got off to slow start offensively.  Going into the first timeout of the game, the Heat held an 11-8 lead.  The Wolves turned the ball over twice early, and Rubio missed two free throws.  In essence, not much changed since the road trip.  Meanwhile, it was the Wade and James show on Miami’s end.  They accounted for all 11 points and several highlight moves around the rim.

At the end of the 1st quarter, the Heat held a 22-16 lead.  Chris Bosh also came to life in the latter stages of the quarter, chipping in 5 points and 3 rebounds.  No one on the Wolves had more than 4 points and it was a rather dull opening twelve minutes.

After Miami widened its margin to double digits, the Wolves answered with their own 9-2 run to cut the lead to 4 points.  Derrick Williams hit a few mid-range jumpers while Rubio was active on the defensive end which led to fast break points.  The remainder of the 2nd quarter was played at a nice pace with the home team being able to keep it close.  Unfortunately for the Wolves (and the pad underneath the rim), Rubio missed a tip-in as time expired in the half.  (Rubio subsequently right-crossed the pad and stormed into the locker room.)

At the half, the Heat held a 50-43 advantage.  Here are a few halftime thoughts through my Wolves lens:

  • JJ Barea was 1-7 from the field in the 1st half and completely maddening to watch
  • I wish Rubio’s effort and visible frustration with losing was more contagious with the Pups
  • Mike Miller gets 0 PT in Miami (although I figure he will see some time in the 2nd half)

The Heat opened up the 3rd quarter with a 12-5 run and opened up their biggest lead of the game to that point (14 points).  However, once again the Wolves were able to respond with a 6-0 run of their own.  This included Ricky Rubio pickpocketing Mario Chalmers around half court and scoring on a layup on the other end of the floor.

Ricky Rubio, Derrick Williams and small contributions from Shved and Cunningham, helped keep the Wolves in the game through three quarters.  While the Pups were trailing 69-63, they were right there going into the final twelve minutes, despite the albatross that is, JJ Barea; who was 1-9 from the field through three quarters.

Minnesota continued to scrap with the Heat, which included JJ Barea getting under Ray Allen’s skin by … being JJ Barea.  Allen wasn’t amused at all and some choice words were exchanged.  During a commercial break, the refs decided that Barea’s foul was a Flagrant 2, which made absolutely no sense.  To make matters worse, the refs also gave Adelman one technical and on the next trip down the floor, called Alexey Shved for a leg kick-out after a made three pointer, which nullified the basket and essentially killed the Wolves momentum.

When an actual basketball game resumed, the Heat took command of the game and pulled away from the Wolves.  This included the aforementioned Mike Miller sighting.  With nothing more to say about the game itself, Jim Pete went into a thirty second rant about how infuriating Miller’s time with the Wolves was.  Thank you Jim, thank you!

After Barea was tossed, the Heat closed the game on a 21-11 run and took their 15th straight victory with a 97-81 win at the Target Center.

Keys of the Game

  • Strength – Sounds ridiculous huh?  Well, when you have LeBron James and Dwyane Wade against an undermanned and undersized Wolves team, I’ll just go with “strength” over “talent”.  James and Wade were able to do virtually whatever they wanted, particularly in getting to the paint.
  • Shooting Percentages – This is getting old right?  Heat = 51% FG%, 84% FT%; Wolves = 38% FG%, 67% FT%.
  • Bad JJ Barea – I’m not talking about his trucker/potty mouth either.  1-11 from the field, and no regard for running Adelman’s offense.

Three Stars of the Game

  1. Dwyane Wade – Wade abused Ridnour and the rest of the Pups that tried to guard him.  32 points on 15-23 shooting, to go with 10 assists and 7 rebounds.
  2. LeBron James – For the first time seeing LeBron play (this work week), I have to say he is pretty good.  James finished with 20 & 10.  Despite the 7 turnovers, James dominated around the paint and set the tone early with Wade.
  3. Ricky Rubio – The Unicorn finished with 14 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds, and 6 steals.  Quite the performance from Ricky on another nationally televised game.

Derrick Williams (and not Mike Miller) gets an honorable mention as DWill had another double-double (25 & 10) for the Wolves and remains the only bright spot on the club beyond Rubio.

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.


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!

Minnesota Timberwolves 92 – Miami Heat 103

LeBron StuffThe Timberwolves finished off their trip to Florida on Tuesday night with a loss to the Miami Heat.  As mentioned before the team even left Minnesota (i.e. please do not fine us Commissioner!), the Wolves played without Ricky Rubio tonight in order to avoid aggravating his knee and putting the stress of back-to-back games on it.

The Wolves opened up with the same starting five from last night – Ridnour, Shved, Kirilenko, Love, and Pekovic.  The Heat opened up with Mario Chalmers, Dwyane Wade, some guy named LeBron James, Udonis Haslem, and Chris Bosh.  The Heat had been playing LeBron at the PF spot, but they went big to open the game to better match up against the Pups, or at least that is what I’m telling myself to feel better about the game.

The Wolves played solid basketball in the first quarter.  Pekovic and Kirilenko were playing well on both sides of the ball.  Unfortunately, Alexey Shved met the wrath of D Wade, who was probably the first opponent this season to make Shved look like a rookie.  Going into the first timeout, the Wolves held a 14-12 lead thanks to a Ridnour jumper.

With just under a minute to go in the quarter, AK47 hit a three pointer to give the Wolves a 27-21 lead.  Unfortunately, despite two additional trips down the court, the Wolves couldn’t build the lead any further, as Ridnour missed two three pointers to end the 1st with the same 27-21 advantage.  Thank goodness for AK47, who led the Wolves in the 1st with 11 points and terrific defense on LeBron.

The 2nd quarter started in a similar back and forth mode with neither team capable of making a large run going into the official timeout and the Wolves holding a 33-29 advantage.  It was also nice to see Mike Miller make an appearance on the court.  (I loathed every second of the Mike Miller era with the Pups.  I’ll stop here.)

After an offensive rebound for the Wolves, Kevin Love drew a loose ball foul on the Haslem, who then drew a technical foul for himself to boot.  After hitting a FT and making a layup seconds later, the Wolves held a 41-32 lead.  If fans started to feel good about the advantage it must have quickly evaporated as the Heat went on a 9-1 run to cut the lead to a single point before Shved made a jumper to bring the score to 44-41.

After a few rounds of throwing punches, Mario Chalmers hit what felt like could have been the knockout uppercut punch at the buzzer to give the Heat a 52-49 lead going into the locker room.  Even though the game was still very close, this felt like something that could deflate the Wolves team and build momentum for the Heat going into the start of the 2nd half.

Here are a few halftime thoughts through my Wolves lens:

  • Kevin Love’s shooting percentages will even out over the course of the season.  (Keep repeating this to yourselves)
  • The Wolves were dominating the paint against the Heat
  • Without AK47, I don’t think the Wolves have six wins on the season

The first four-five minutes of the 3rd quarter continued the competitive spirit and balance that was seen in the first half.  Despite struggling with his shot in the game, Shved made a few real nice passes to Kirilenko and Pekovic for dunks, giving the Wolves a 63-62 lead.  Then, it all came crashing down.

Dwyane Wade somehow convinced the officials that the Wolves were committing fouls on the defensive end and hit two FT’s to give the Heat the lead.  In succession after this we saw a Wolves turnover, a Bosh from James layup, another Wolves turnover, and a Wade from James layup.  This gave the Heat a 68-63 lead and the Wolves fell apart from here.

The Wolves went cold from the floor and missed a number of short jumpers despite numerous offensive rebounds.  This coincided with LeBron coming to life and hitting a few jump shots and suddenly the lead was up to 10 points, 78-68.  For the final two minutes of the quarter, there was little to no offense, with both teams only scoring points from the FT line.  At the end of three quarters, the Heat held an 80-72 lead.

The Pups opened up the 4th quarter very cold as they were held scoreless (by themselves) for the first 2+ minutes.  By this point, the Heat built their lead to 14 points, 86-72.  To be perfectly honest, I basically threw in the towel a few minutes later when Adelman did … with about 7 minutes left in the game, Stiemsma and Amundson entered the game for the Wolves and that about did it for me too.  This was preceded by a Shane Battier three pointer that increased the Heat lead to 97-78.  The only item worth noting from the extensive “gah-bage” time was Derrick Williams’ time on the floor which felt productive, but again, it was during a stretch of game action where the game was already decided.

The final score looks a lot closer than this one felt, with the Wolves falling to the Heat 103-92.  The Wolves return home for Thursday night’s game against the other defending conference champion, the OKC Thunder.  (Mercy!)

Three Stars of the Game:

  1. LeBron James
  2. Dwyane Wade
  3. Andrei Kirilenko good defense, and the only starter that didn’t turn the ball over

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.


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!