Setting the stage:
The Timberwolves enter the fourth week of the season with an impressive 7-4 record. As of Sunday morning, that is good for a sixth place tie in the Western Conference and percentage points away from second in the Northwest Division. As most expected, the team looks like an offensive juggernaut, averaging 108.5 points per game – 3rd in the NBA. The team is also 5th in the league in both rebounds and assists per game.
After missing one game with the flu, Kevin Martin returned to form Saturday night and remains one of the most impressive stories early on this season. Kevin Love continues to play at an All-Star level, averaging 26.8ppg and 13.6rpg, with a PER at 29.7! While Ricky Rubio continues to struggle with his shot, he continues to do everything else with 9.6apg and just over 3 steals per. Ricky put up a triple double last Sunday against the Lakers and if he continues to put in ~10+ppg, this team is very dangerous.
Week 4 for the Wolves is going to be tough, with two sets of back-to-back games and travel. A few old faces will be clashing with the Wolves this week and it is a perfect time for the team to put on some throwback jerseys (#Twolves25)!! Here are a few thoughts for each game this week.
Game 12: Tuesday, 11/19, 6pm – Timberwolves @ Washington Wizards (TV: FSN Plus)
The Wizards will enter this game at 2-7 and Randy Wittman is the early leader in the “coach most likely to get fired first” category (again). It would be an understatement to say the Wizards are underachieving. The Pups will come into Tuesday’s game with two full days of rest (so will Washington). Hopefully, this game will be as easy as it looks on paper.
Opponent to watch:
Bradley Beal – Beal is off to a great start this season in Washington, playing right around 40 minutes per game and averaging a shade under 20 points. The second year SG will look to make it tough on Kevin Martin on both ends of the floor.
Despite this game being on the road, do you really think I’m picking a team coached by Randy Wittman that is grossly underperforming to start the season? Final score: Timberwolves 106, Wizards 99
Game 13: Wednesday, 11/20, 7pm – Los Angeles Clippers @ Timberwolves (TV: FS North)
The Pups will travel back home from Washington to face the Clippers on Wednesday night and will be looking to avenge the nail biting loss that they suffered back on 11/11. Love and Nikola Pekovic will look to continue their strong play against the solid tandem of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Let’s see if Matt Barnes can talk himself out of the NBA before tip-off of this game too. (Good grief.) In an effort to get completely ahead of ourselves, this is actually a pretty big game for the Wolves, who will look to even the season series and keep the Clippers (and others) well within their grasps when thinking about playoff seeds. (Yep, we went there before Thanksgiving!)
Opponent to watch:
Chris Paul – The queen/king of flopping outplayed Rubio in the first outing and will likely need to do so again for the Clippers in order for them to win.
Quite honestly, the Wolves are dealt a tough deck here. The Clippers will be off the night prior, and coming into the game off of a four game home stretch. The Wolves will be flying back from DC and won’t get home until late Tuesday / early Wednesday. The only reason I’m taking the Wolves is because, well, I hate the Clippers. Final score: Timberwolves 114, Clippers 112
Game 14: Friday, 11/22, 7pm – Brooklyn Nets @ Timberwolves (TV: FS North)
A few things about this game and how it relates to the national TV schedule. First, since this game is on a Friday, how in the world is it not on ESPN? The young, improving Wolves vs. the star-studded (albeit underachieving) Brooklyn Nets. Second, this is possibly KG’s last game ever at Target Center – even though his contract goes for one more season. What brainpower decided that this game wasn’t worthy of ESPN coverage?
Third, and changing the focus on national media, why couldn’t this match-up, in Target Center, be on TNT on a Thursday night with Kevin Harlan in the booth? Fourth, pivoting again, please, PLEASE, PLEASE make this a throwback jersey night! I really don’t ask for that much.
Opponent to watch:
Kevin Garnett – I don’t care that he is averaging under 25mpg and his averages are well below what we have all become accustomed to. This is KG and it might be his last run on the Target Center floor. If you have the ability to get to Target Center, you should be there.
I’m going to predict a “throwback night” from KG as well, who will come into the game firing on all cylinders. Assuming Deron Williams plays (D2D with an ankle injury), I’m going to predict my first loss in this weekly column for the Pups. Final score: Nets 102, Timberwolves 100
Game 15: Saturday, 11/23, 7pm – Timberwolves @ Houston Rockets (TV: FS North)
You can literally take just about everything that I said above in the first paragraph for the Nets game and place it here too. With Kevin McHale on the opposing sideline, this is another opportunity for the Wolves to throw on a few old school jerseys (cough, ORIGINAL BLUE’S, cough). Do it! DO IT!!
Opponent to watch:
James Harden – Harden has picked up right where he left off last season, stuffing the box score night in and night out. Harden lit up Thabo Sefolosha and Kevin Martin in the playoffs last year. While Martin had one really bad game (game 5) in that series, he bounced back nicely in game 6 to knock the Rockets out of the playoffs.
The Wolves can’t afford to get that “game 5 Martin” in this one, as they will be on the back end of a back-to-back against a team that will not have played since Wednesday night in another part of Texas (Dallas). Final score: Rockets 112, Timberwolves 106
The Pups don’t catch any breaks this coming week from the scheduling gods whatsoever. If they can go 2-2 this week, I would be content. 3-1 would be impressive and 4-0 would be glorious. Let’s go Wolves!