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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.