Setting the stage:
I have never been as excited for the second week of the NBA season as I am for this coming week! Why? For the first time, I will be frequenting the Target Center for some Timberwolves action! Yes!! I will be in town for the Wednesday and Friday games this week, so if anyone is interested in grabbing a Teddy Bruschi or Charles Brewkowski before or after either game, please do shoot me a note here or on Twitter.
Aside from that shameless promotion, the Timberwolves are coming into the week off of a promising week – going 3-0 with a dramatic home opener, a blowout against OKC, and a solid road win at MSG – despite giving up a big lead – on Sunday. As it always seems to be with the Wolves, with the good comes a little bad, with the team announcing that Ronnie Turiaf has a fractured elbow and is out indefinitely. That will put Gorgui Dieng in the spotlight early on in his rookie season and he’ll need to step up and contribute behind Nikola Pekovic.
The Wolves enter the week looking like an offensive juggernaut, averaging 110 points per game through the first three. The team is also top 10 in the league in rebounds and assists per game, at 43 and 23 respectively. Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio are leading the way in the box score, but it has been solid contributions from the entire rotation that have helped the team to its 3-0 start.
Let’s see if this can continue into week two. Here are a few thoughts for each game this week.
Game 4: Monday, 11/4, 6pm – Timberwolves @ Cleveland Cavs (TV: FS North)
The Wolves will travel to Cleveland off of Sunday night’s game at MSG, with the opponent having an off day to recover from Saturday’s game against the Pacers. The Cavs are off to a slow start this season, entering the game 1-2 thus far. They are near the bottom of the league in scoring at only 85.3 ppg. Kyrie Irving is leading the team in scoring and assists but his shot is a bit off right now. Somewhat surprisingly, the Cavs have gotten minutes from Anderson Varejao and Andrew Bynum, who may make things a little tough in the paint.
Opponent to watch:
Kyrie Irving – While there are a few intriguing storylines with the Cavs (Michael Bennett and Bynum particularly), I’m giving the nod to Irving for this go-round given the overall excitement he can create and the speed in which he can play at. Hopefully Rubio can contain Irving and/or Kyrie’s shot remains off for one more night.
I’m not predicting a loss until the Wolves drop a game. I wouldn’t be surprised though if the team falls here, given the back to back schedule. How is that for hedging bets? A big game from Kevin Love puts the Wolves over. Final score: Timberwolves 98, Cavs 92
Game 5: Wednesday, 11/6, 7pm – Golden State Warriors @ Timberwolves (TV: FS North)
I visit the Twin Cities with the Warriors in tow from Philly. Not really, they should already be in town. Wednesday’s game at Target Center is the middle game for Golden State’s three game road swing. This is one of the most exciting teams to watch in the NBA and we can expect a high scoring affair. Klay Thompson dropped a cool 38 points on opening night and the Wolves will need to find a way to contain him and Stephen Curry. The Wolves frontcourt is also going to have to find a way to slow down David Lee, who put up gaudy stats in week one.
Opponent to watch:
Andre Iguodala – Many Wolves fans have clamored for AI2 for years (I’m not one of them) and Wednesday is another opportunity to see him play at the Target Center. Through the team’s first three games, AI2 has not been scoring much, but that isn’t necessarily what GS needs from him. He is however, filling out the box score, contributing in all aspects of the game – passing, rebounding, steals, and blocks.
The highest scoring regular season game in NBA history (without overtime) was on 11/2/90 between the Warriors and Nuggets. The teams combined for 320 points. The bar is set for this game, make it happen! Final score: Timberwolves 130, Warriors 122
(I have never, ever predicted 130 points for an NBA team. This will be a special night all-around.)
Game 6: Friday, 11/8, 7pm – Dallas Mavericks @ Timberwolves (TV: FS North)
The Mavericks will visit the Target Center on Friday night, coming off of a nationally televised game Wednesday night in OKC. The team made several, significant moves in the offseason and to this point, it has paid off. They finished the first week of the season 2-1, with wins at home against Atlanta and Memphis, and the loss coming on the road in Houston. Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis are off to hot starts, each averaging more than 20 ppg.
Opponent to watch:
Dirk Nowitzki – My eyes are going to be on Dirk, as I have never seen him play in person. He may have lost a step, but I’m intrigued to see just how sweet his offense looks in person.
I’m confident that the Twolves will win this game. That’s never a good thing. It will likely be the polar opposite of Wednesday’s game against GS though. Rubio shines in this one and I get to gloat about it all the way back to NJ. Final score: Timberwolves 96, Mavericks 88
Game 7: Sunday, 11/10, 8:30pm – Timberwolves @ LA Lakers (TV: FS North)
The Wolves head west to take on the Lakers Sunday night to start a back to back against both LA teams. The Lakers will come into the game off of a three game road trip that took them through two-thirds of Texas and New Orleans.
This will be Wolves’ fans first opportunity to see the almighty Wes Johnson in purple and gold. Have I mentioned him in the past? I think I have. While we won’t see Kobe Bryant, I still think this team can tread water for a while. This past Friday night, the team stayed with Duncan-less Spurs and almost pulled it out.
Opponent to watch:
Wes Johnson – Just kidding, unless you want to induce a coma.
Pau Gasol – This will be a tough match for Pekovic, given Pau has returned to the middle of the floor. Pau is putting up solid numbers early on in the season. With Kaman as the backup, we might see a little more of Kevin Love at the Center spot, as Pekovic and Dieng will have their hands full.
I expect a big night from Kevin Martin and Corey Brewer going against the Lakers’ wings. Final score: Timberwolves 103, Lakers 94
A pretty busy week for the Wolves lies ahead, with four games in seven nights. The countdown has already begun for my trip to the Twin Cities. Looking forward to meeting as many of you as I can over anything but a Martina Navratibrewski (because you can’t have more than ‘ski’ at the end of the root word).
Here’s to hoping the Pups continue their winning ways! Please don’t let me be there for the first loss. Please! Let’s go Wolves!