Game 72 Preview: Wolves vs. Bobcats

Timberwolves: 14-57

Bobcats: 36-34

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The Wolves hit the road again for a small two-game trip that starts in the Tar Heel state tonight. No matter where they’re playing, the Wolves’ woes continue to strangle coaches, players and fans alike. The losing streak has now hit 13 after the loss to the Raptors on Monday. The Wolves haven’t lost 14 straight games since a 16-game skid in 1994 and 1993. On the other hand, the Bobcats are gearing up with a new owner to head into the franchise’s first postseason appearance. The pieces do seem to be fitting into place with the likes of Stephen Jackson on offense and a stout defense led by Raymond Felton, Tyrus Thomas and, of course, Gerald Wallace, who has returned from an injury that set him back for a few games. The Wolves will need to play physical tonight in order to squeak out a win. In order to do that, we need good help defense from everyone on the floor. Darko Milicic will need to pose as a Godzilla like creature inside, swatting basketballs as if they were pesky, little fighter planes down to the ground. The offense has looked good, but defense, not so much and that’s where it starts tonight. No improvement on defense equals 14-game losing streak.

Match-ups:

Point Guard:

Jonny Flynn vs. Raymond Felton

Flynn has had two games in a row in which coach Rambis has allowed him to create off the dribble and, frankly, its working well. Only problem now is to make sure he can shoot more efficiently while adding this slashing dimension to his game. Felton is a very good lock-down defender, so Flynn could have trouble blasting by him tonight.

Advantage: Charlotte

Shooting Guard:

Corey Brewer vs. Stephen Jackson

Jackson can be a bonafied stud, on a good night that is. His offensive numbers rely on how well he can create a shot and take advantage of it. Brewer does a good job of playing the pest and keeping his counterpart from getting easy shots off. As for offense, Brewer, despite breaking his long consecutive three-pointer streak, is still shooting and playing well. I like his chances tonight. Not to mention he’s due for a big game. Another reason Minnesota gets the advantage, two words: Wayne Ellington.

Advantage: Minnesota

Small Forward:

Ryan Gomes vs. Gerald Wallace

Wallace has returned from a minor injury only to elevate his already high-passion way of playing the game. He plays hard on both ends of the court, especially when on defense. Gomes has done well in the month of March but Wallace’s defensive prowess and overall strength may have him beat tonight.

Advantage: Charlotte

Power Forward:

Al Jefferson vs. Boris Diaw

The power forward play of the Wolves has been good but only in certain stretches of the game. Usually, the start of the game is Jefferson’s limelight, where he goes 4-4 to start the game and ends the first quarter with around 8-10 points. Problem is that the Wolves then stop feeding it to him in the post and we run into lapses on offense. As for Kevin Love’s time, usually he comes in during the first, sucks, then hits the bench. Then his second time on the floor, he kills it. That just seems to be the trend I’ve been noticing as of late. If we can get a consistent performance from both of these guys tonight, Diaw, and many other power forwards in the NBA, don’t have a great advantage here.

Advantage: Minnesota

Center:

Darko Milicic vs. Theo Ratliff

The soon to be starting center of the Wolves for the ’10-’11 season has been dominating lately. Passing, shooting, rebounding and best of all a defensive threat in the paint, have all added a certain dynamic the Wolves have been missing before the trade for the seven-footer. The Bobcats are a little light at the center position, as noted by their starter. Tyson Chandler provides solid minutes off the bench but doesn’t provide the type of production they need.

Advantage: Minnesota

Wolf Tracks 3/24

The Wolves head to Charlotte to take on Air Jordan’s Bobcats. Here are today’s Wolf Tracks:

Timberwolf Tracks:

  • According to Accuscore.com, the Bobcats are heavy favorites, 85.3% to be exact, to beat the Wolves tonight.
  • Jerry Zgoda tweets. You know things are bad when the beat writer for the Wolves doesn’t even want to get on the right plane to travel with the team.
  • T-Wolves D-League affiliate Sioux Falls Skyforce has one of the best bigs who is most NBA ready. Meet Alexander Johnson.

Truehoop Tracks:

  • Guns in arenas? That’s a no-no!
  • HornetsHype blogger Sarah Tolcser complains about how NBA games are not very family friendly because of all the skimpy dancers and what not. Well, don’t turn to football or anything anytime soon. I know guys who go to football games just to catch a glimpse of the Dallas Cowboys’ cheerleaders!

Other Tracks:

  • Today’s Daily Dime questions why Knicks center David Lee is not a keeper for them.
  • Denver Nuggets’ coach George Karl suffers a setback in his fight against cancer and won’t be back with the team until postseason.

Wolf Tracks 3/23

In back to back games, the Wolves have shown that they aren’t just a team willing to lay down and be run over, even if it looked like it during the first three games of that last road trip. Keep up the good effort. Here are today’s Wolf Tracks:

Timberwolf Tracks:

  • Forward Alando Tucker’s tryout has not worked out as nicely as the front office thought. The Wolves cut Tucker yesterday afternoon.
  • To fill Tucker’s spot on the team, the Wolves are bringing back “The Janitor”.  Brian Cardinal has resigned with the T-Wolves.
  • The “Run With the Pack” season-ticket promotion has gone swimmingly and the sales continue to increase, hitting record levels.
  • Wolves’ rookies Wayne Ellington and Jonny Flynn aren’t playing the same kind of basketball in the month of March like they did last year while in the NCAA tournament. And despite the differences that both players have had to experience while making the switch from college to the pros, in the sense of winning that is, they are not ready to give up on the season quite yet.

“We want to win games, we don’t just want to stay with teams,” Flynn said after a 106-100 loss to Toronto. “That’s not the goal.”

  • The talk of the upcoming 2010 NBA Draft being the “John Wall Draft” has slowly started to diminish as Ohio State Buckeye Evan Turner has quickly established his name among the elite of the elite in this year’s draft class. Some may even take him #1 over Wall, but who? Perhaps, the T-Wolves…(ESPN Insider Article)

Truehoop Tracks:

Prosecutors are now calling for Arenas to serve three months in jail, three years’ probation and 300 hours of community service.

Other Tracks:

Silver Linings from the last two losses…

In lieu of Friday’s Lakers recap and last nights against the Raptors let’s look at a few of the positives from the Wolves last two games.

  • For the first time all season Jonny Flynn appears to be playing without the leash Rambis has kept so tight all season. He’s going to the hoop (8-10 from the line last night) and it’s effective. Only problem is now the Wolves’ offense is a three-headed monster which is trying to push the ball up court fast, and then either a) running some form of the triangle, b) iso posting Jefferson (or whoever happens to be posting up) and c) letting Jonny create. The problem with option c is that no one is used to playing this way. Love and Jefferson each missed a dime from Flynn off a drive, and Love missed an easy lay-up after a great pass from his as well. Not to mention no one seems to know which of the 3 to run. Flynn is good at creating but he still has his “rookie” moments taking a few bad shots or failing to get the ball to Jefferson when he’s been doing work.
  • On that topic, getting the ball to Jefferson, it still baffles me that this team won’t at least get him a touch every time down the floor when he’s in the game (9-16 last night, 7-15 friday) and playing well. A lot of this lands on Flynn’s shoulders but not all. Numerous times Gomes or Brewer took the ball on the wing and went to Love at the high/pinch-post.
  • Darko. For those of you that have watched the last two games, were you thinking the same thing I was thinking? Darko Millic if the Wolves can just convince him to stay on this side of the pond next year, is going to soon be the Wolves best all-time center. Yes that’s right, ALL-TIME. Go ahead try and pick one who was better. Don’t say Jefferson because we all know he’s a power forward. Yes Darko freaking Millic has the chance to be the Wolves best all-time center. What I still can’t figure out: why the heck wasn’t he playing in New York? Must have gotten off on the wrong foot with D’Antoni or something. All I know is I am happy he’s a Wolf. Blocking shots, making smart passes, hitting lefty hooks in the post, dropping 20 footers, and using his legit size to rebound the ball. I couldn’t expect more from a starting center.
  • Wayne Ellington. Could we get this guy a start? Knocking down shots and playing solid defense. Ellington has shown that he works well at the 2 and I still would like to see him start next to Flynn with Brewer at the 3. Gomes is better at the 4 anyway.
  • Did anyone see that the Wolves were tied in the Lakers game at 66 and also just before halftime with the Raptors at 45. Small, moral victories right?
  • At the end of last night’s game we were once again shown that Rambis is not very good with the clipboard at drawing up plays for the team. I know it hasn’t been needed much but he better start working at it if we’re going to win close ones down the road.
  • I should also note that Corey Brewer’s impressive 33 game streak of games with at least one 3-pointer ended on Friday in LA. For a guy who once had one of the worst NBA Hot Spot charts that I posted back in November and who I asked to just stop shooting, he’s come a heckva long way. Props to you Corey, keep shooting it.
  • Anybody missing Ryan Hollins? Yea me neither.
  • Kevin Love didn’t have a stellar game last night but he did on Friday in LA. It’s clear though with Darko playing well recently that even with a legit center the Jefferson-Love combo still isn’t solved. I will be shocked if one isn’t traded this summer. It just feels like neither of them can maximize their potential on the same team. What say you on this subject?
  • Next up the Bobcats who play in Washington tonight and are coming off 2 losses to the Hawks and Heat. Could the Wolves steal a win? If not the good news is all signs point to us getting their 1st rounder this June. See there’s always a silver lining somewhere.

Wolf Tracks 3/22

The Wolves take on the Raptors tonight at home after a brutal four-game road trip where the team was unable to come away with a victory. Maybe things change, starting tonight. Here are today’s Wolf Tracks:

Timberwolf Tracks:

  • Word has it that Darko Milicic is now starting to warm up to the idea of staying with the Wolves for another season. Only problem, he desires to play near 30-35 minutes per game. Yikes!
  • One of the best coaches of this decade, Phil Jackson, says patience is key while waiting for Kurt Rambis and David Kahn to shape the T-Wolves.

So does his mentor, Lakers coach Phil Jackson, still think his protégé made the right move?

“Without a doubt,” Jackson said Friday, when his Lakers dealt the Wolves their 12th consecutive loss. “He needed to get out and explore how it was going to happen for him. Obviously, you look back at the opportunities he might have had that might have been more beneficial, more talented teams. But this still is a team that has great potential. They not only have room for a free agent, they’ve got draft picks.

  • Here is a quick, sarcastic game preview from T-Wolves Blog regarding tonight’s game.
  • Ray Richardson via Henry Abbott’s First Cup: Monday looks back at an impressive streak put on by Corey Brewer.
  • Ray Richardson of the Pioneer Press: “Corey Brewer was not disappointed that his club-record streak for three-pointers came to an end Friday night. Brewer was 0 for 3 against the Lakers, ending a streak of 33 consecutive games with at least one three-pointer. ‘Teams were running guys at me, and that was a good feeling,’ Brewer said. ‘It showed that my shooting has improved with all the hard work.’ Brewer’s streak started Jan. 8 against Indiana. During the streak, he shot 40.9 percent from three-point range (59 of 144).”

    Truehoop Tracks:

    • Here is the enemies’ perspective on tonight’s match-up: Wolves vs. Raptors.
    • The Knicks have had problems all season long, thus possibly proving that coach Mike D’Antoni may not be the guy for New York. After all,  his words are meaningless.
    • Why does the Western Conference have to be so damn good?

    Other Tracks:

    Wolf Tracks 3/20

    The Wolves put up a fight against the Lakers last night, thus proving that they still have some fight left in them. Maybe this season isn’t done as early as we all thought. Here are today’s Wolf Tracks:

    Timberwolf Tracks:

    • In a season flooded with lows, the Bleacher Report tries to highlight the positives.
    • As hard as this season has been for fans, how do you think head coach Kurt Rambis feels about it? It must be difficult going from best to worst, since leaving the Lakers to coach the Wolves.

    Rambis: “This is a developmental year for us. We knew it was going to be difficult. It’s a rebuilding year, and we can’t run away from that.”

    • Kevin Love not getting the attention he deserves? You know, you may be right there!
    • More on Love, his humanitarian efforts to help contribute at the St. Judes hospital have touched the lives of many as well as opened the eyes of fans all across the state.

    Truehoop Tracks:

    Other Tracks:

    • The Cavaliers clinched their playoff spot last night and Lebron scored his 15,000th point. Can’t get much better in Cleveland.
    • A few days after firing President of Basketball Operations, Tom Penn, the Blazers’ GM, Tom Pritchard, is now on the hot seat.
    • The Spurs put up 147 points on the Warriors last night. I’m serious, look. But it still wasn’t as many as the Wolves gave up to the Suns!

    Game 70 Preview: Wolves vs. Lakers

    Timberwolves: 14-55

    Lakers: 50-18

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    I'm goin' goin', back back, to cali cali

    Best meets worst in tonight’s match-up in L.A. at the Staples Center. The Wolves have lost 17 of their last 18 including an 11 game losing streak. Another streak against the Wolves’ favor, L.A. is riding a current nine game win streak over the Wolves and look to make it 10 straight tonight with a win. One advantage for the Wolves tonight is that Pau Gasol may not be a go due to tonsillitis. Even then, they’ll just stick Lamar Odom in his place and have as much production — if not more — with Gasol in the lineup. The Wolves, both as a team and individually, look tired and defeated. It looks as if they want this season to just come to an end so they can hit the links and get a head start on their golf games. Even Kevin Love, arguably one of our best players, looks to be completely checked out, as he’s had two terrible shooting games back-to-back. Two guys that aren’t quite ready to be done playing are Corey Brewer and Ryan Gomes. Both players are playing hard, creating their own shots on offense and shooting them well. Only problem for them tonight is they have to face the likes of Kobe Bryant and Ron Artest tonight. It just doesn’t look like our night.

    Match-ups:

    Point Guard:

    Jonny Flynn vs. Derek Fisher

    Fisher is one of the most professional point guards in the league. He does everything right and is clutch in tight situations. Flynn is neither of those things and can’t shoot a ball into a lake right now.

    Advantage: Los Angeles

    Shooting Guard:

    Corey Brewer vs. Kobe Bryant

    Brewer is playing well and making a strong case to return as a starter for next season as well as the NBA’s Most Improved Player award. That’s all there is to play for right now if you’re a Wolf. Kobe is Kobe and he’ll do his thing tonight.

    Advantage: Los Angeles

    Small Forward:

    Ryan Gomes vs. Ron Artest

    Just like Brewer, Gomes has played well the past few games. Problem is that Artest is one of the league’s best one-on-one defenders, so Gomes will have even more difficulty creating his own shots tonight.

    Advantage: Los Angeles

    Power Forward:

    Al Jefferson vs. Lamar Odom

    From what I’ve heard, Gasol probably won’t play which gives the Wolves the advantage here. Here’s why. Jefferson has played great lately. Only problem is, the Wolves, for some odd reason, stop feeding the ball to the big fella after he gets off to a quick, efficient start in the first quarter. If they can keep feeding him continually tonight, he’ll score 25 on Odom. Odom is a great talent but he lacks the the size and strength to stay with Jefferson and his physical nature all night long. Ground and pound it to the big guy and we could have a shot at this one, well not really but maybe… Ah, it’s no use.

    Advantage: Minnesota

    Center:

    Ryan Hollins vs. Andrew Bynum

    Whether it’s actually Hollins starting or Darko Milicic, neither have a chance at slowing down the big man. Bynum is a freak and he’s still a young guy learning the game. But for tonight, he won’t be the student at all, as he’ll be taking Hollins and Darko to school all night long.

    Advantage: Los Angeles