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Washington Wizards (0-7) vs Minnesota Timberwolves (2-5)
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Last games: Minnesota: L, 98-87 vs Cleveland, Washington: L 99-96 vs New York
Minnesota came out flat Friday and Cleveland came out ready to go as the Cavs easily handled the Wolves in a disappointing home loss. Turnovers and bad shooting doomed Minnesota.
Washington lost a heartbreaker to New York on Friday, as the Knicks rallied late to steal away Washington’s first win of the season 99-96. The Wizards remain winless on the year.
The Key Questions
#1. How will Beasley’s absence affect the Wolves?
Michael Beasley will miss the next three games with a sprained right foot. I unabashedly love Michael Beasley. Is he the best player on the Wolves? Of course not. Is he the most valuable? Heavens no. Is he fatally inefficient? We can’t know for sure, but it certainly appears to be possible. Is he hilarious? Does he occasionally show tantalizing flashes of his potential? Do I find the Wolves more entertaining when he’s on the floor? Yes, yes, and yes.
However. Beasley’s absence will push Adelman in some interesting directions. Does Wes Johnson get the start at the 3? How will he perform playing in a position where he feels more natural? Or will rookie Derrick Williams get the minutes instead? And if Williams gets the minutes, will Adelman start Rubio as well, whose developing chemistry with Williams has been dominating the Sportscenter Top 10 every game?
Unless Williams goes off like TNT, these next three games without Beasley won’t decide the lineup going forward, but they might give us some indication of the direction Minnesota plans to go. And it might even hurry along the process a bit.
#2. Could this game actually burn people’s eyeballs?
Consider this quote from Wizards coach Flip Saunders after Washington lost to New York on Friday (via Truth About It):
Two things that hurt us: they made 27 points off turnovers, and we shot 61% from the free throw line.
So…another young, potentially turnover prone team who struggles from the free throw line? This could be excruciating.
The good news is that both teams have a lot of athleticism and even though Washington is last in the league in pace, John Wall likes to push the ball up the court, so at very least, expect a track meet. But I’d bring a pair of goggles. Just in case.
#3. How will the Wolves play away from home?
Minnesota’s schedule thus far has been undeniably brutal, especially for such a young team trying to get their bearings. But the way the schedule makers tried to make up for it, evidently, is by making all of their games at home. You know, so the Wolves could lose in front of their increasingly frustrated home fans instead of a lackluster American Airlines Arena crowd in Miami.
Anyway, this is the Wolves first away game since losing a nail-biter to the Bucks in Milwaukee, so we’ll see how they adjust to life on the road.
I’d be more worried about the fact that this game is early if Beasley was playing. But it’s also worth noting that the game starts at noon for us denizens of the Central Time Zone.
The Key Matchups
Even in games against inferior teams, and whatever you think about Minnesota as a basketball team, Washington is clearly an inferior team, a lack of focus can doom you. Just ask the Knicks, who almost blew a game against this Washington team on Friday before ‘Melo put on his Superman cape and saved the day.
If Adelman leaves Ridnour on John Wall too long, Wall is going to have a field day. Ridnour is many things, some of them good, but he is not a reliable defender of athletic point guards. Rubio, on the other hand, has shown a surprising talent for moving his feet and staying in front of people, bothering them as they attempt to drive. John Wall would be an interesting test, since he is essentially an electrical charge dressed up in basketball clothes.
Washington’s version of Michael Beasley, the slightly insane but extremely entertaining Javale McGee, could prove problematic for the Wolves as well. He’s built like Ryan Hollins, but jumps like Serge Ibaka. Fortunately, McGee is the guy who once did this, so his decision making won’t be what dooms the Wolves.
Despite the quote earlier, as a team, the Wizards are surprisingly stingy with their turnovers, just 22nd in the league in turnover ratio. The Wolves, of course, are first. Minnesota will need to take care of the ball better. But you already knew that.
The last time I said Minnesota should win a game was on Friday, when they got trounced by Cleveland. On the other hand, the Wizards are even worse than Cleveland and winless so far this year.
On the other OTHER hand, the Wolves will be experimenting with new lineups, playing on the road for the first time in six games. The entire team has been shooting the ball badly for two straight games, turning it over with abandon, and oh dear God please don’t let us lose to the freaking Wizards.
Game starts at noon of Fox Sports North