USA TODAY Sports
The injury-riddled, poor-shooting, "addicted to losing like it was M&M-covered potato chips" Minnesota Timberwolves visit the Rose Garden tonight. Can the Blazers summon a killer instinct and finally win an easy game?
Ahhh...the Minnesota Timberwolves. Following this team is just like going to the pound and finding that one, forlorn puppy that nobody's going to adopt because it's got three legs and scraggly hair and one ear droops. So you take it home, pat it on the head, and it proceeds to pee all over your living room carpet. Every...single...season.
The 20-35 'Wolves will test themselves against the Blazers at 7:00 p.m. in a game televised on KGW locally and NBA TV nationally. Portland's not exactly lighting the world on fire but it'll be an uphill battle for the visitors nevertheless. Kevin Love wasn't having the greatest season ever, but any Love is better than no Love at all. Andrei Kirilenko hasn't played for the last couple games. Nikola Pekovic's recent run has been amazing--and he routinely slaughters the Blazers--but he played only 9 minutes in Minnesota's last game, leaving with a strained abdominal muscle. He's listed as day-to-day. The 'Wolves roster consists of power forwards, point guards, and Pekovic. If he can't play, or even if he's not 100%, they'll have to cobble together a frontcourt out of Dante Cunningham, Derek Williams, and Chris Johnson. That's adding to a backcourt of Ricky Rubio, Luke Ridnour, J.J. Barea, and Alexey Schved. Everybody has to do a shot every time the 'Wolves miss one. Wheeeee!
Minnesota won 3 games last month. They topped 100 points only twice, losing the game both times. They've managed to keep all 3 losses to the Blazers close this season but the record is still 0-3.
Minnesota's basic problem: even fully-staffed they can't shoot. Pekovic gets them paint points and Love would make a huge difference but those guards are an eyesore every time they release the ball. Opponents can pack the paint against the potent big guys without fear of reprisal. The 'Wolves shoot an abysmal 30% from the three-point arc, 43.5% from the floor in general. The first qualifies them for worst in the league, the second earns them a spot in the bottom five. Their saving graces: offensive rebounding and a propensity for drawing free throws. But that offense requires way more salvation than those two categories can provide. They need Jesus and got a Dr. Phil book and an aspirin instead.
On the other end of the floor the Timberwolves are fairly poor in transition, bad at guarding the three, and allow a good percentage from the field overall. When they can get their players set they play credible defense. Otherwise it's a scramble and an easy shot for the opponent. They're good defensive rebounders, at least when healthy.
Minnesota forces turnovers but they also commit them...a wash.
What do you hang your hat on here? The 'Wolves played well against Portland in their last contest by expending more energy. They'll need the Blazers to take this game lightly while they, themselves, take it seriously and give their all. If the Blazers show up flat and unconcerned, shame on them. This is one of the few low-hanging victories left in the season. Almost all the rest will require climbing the tree, if not the mountain. The Blazers should come out fired up, ready for action, and have fun tonight. Anything less will be too much of a credit to a wounded opponent headed in the wrong direction and all too accustomed to giving up the loss.
Canis Hoopus talks about the Timberwolves.
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