Game 22: Indiana Pacers vs Minnesota Timberwolves


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Indiana Pacers (14-6) vs Minnesota Timberwolves (10-11)

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Last game: Minnesota: W, 120-108 vs Houston, Indiana: W, 106-99 vs New Jersey

Surprisingly, the internet isn't full of pictures of the Timberwolves playing the Pacers. The Warriors have similar colors. Just pretend.

The Timberwolves picked up an encouraging road win against a scorching Houston team on Monday. The Wolves used a huge third quarter (42 points, a new franchise record) to blow open a close game, as Michael Beasley scored 34 points off the bench on hyper-efficient 10-14 from the field. Other things that happened on Saturday: the sun rose green and the clouds were purple.

Indiana beat New Jersey last night 106-99. On the one hand, Indiana only beat New Jersey by seven on their home floor, George Hill hurt his ankle and will be out for quite a while, David West only took four shots from the field in 34 minutes of action, it was last night, and tonight is the second night of a back to back on the road. On the other hand, this.

The Key Questions

#1. Holy…can Michael Beasley keep doing that?

Jonah already did a great post on this topic right here, but…

Hey Mike. Tom from Howlin’ T-Wolf here. That was awesome, buddy. Seriously. You were killer against Houston. It was like you were back at K-State overpowering everybody on the offensive end. We were all a little blown away, and we all enjoyed the crap out of it.

But Mike? Please, please pleaseplease don’t let it get out of hand. I know you made 2-3 shots from behind the arc against Houston. But no matter how well it went against the Rockets Mike, you aren’t a three point shooter. We definitely appreciate the threes you have made. But don’t make them a regular part of your arsenal. You need to trust me on this. Keep taking shots close to the basket, keep playing to your strengths.

Thanks man. You are my favorite. I love watching you get minutes, which is why I say all this stuff. Keep up the good work.

-Tom

#2. Are the Pacers for real this season?

That depends on how one defines the phrase “for real.” Are they a playoff team, especially in the Eastern Conference? Most definitely. Could they win a playoff series, given the right match-up? Yeah, probably. Are they ECF contenders? Without everything falling into place (key injuries to opponents, the Celtics/Magic inexplicably knocking off Miami or Chicago, career performances from role players, etc.), it’s pretty hard to project.

Please note: I am absolutely not underestimating the Pacers. They are an excellent team right now, and they have some excellent pieces and a lot of really interesting cap room going into the next two off-seasons. They are extremely well positioned for the future. It’s just hard to see them making it past the second round this season.

#3. Will we finally see Barea return?

Reports indicate…YES!

The Key Matchups

Listen, I love Nikolai Pekovic. He works hard. He gets some rebounds. He can score around the basket. He has a super badass tattoo. But Pek can’t defend a player like Roy Hibbert. You thought the Lakers were long? Try going 40 minutes against a 7’2 super-athlete with long arms and a developing post game. Quite simply put: when Hibbert is in the game, the Wolves will struggle if they go small. Pek isn’t nearly long enough. Darko is closer, and he is supposed to return to action, despite continued dizziness.

David West is a fine basketball player, but he isn’t a truly plus defender, and he isn’t Kevin Love. The Timberwolves will need to win this matchup tonight.

Darren Collison vs Ricky Rubio will be interesting mainly because Collison is the kind of super quick point guard that scouts didn’t believe Rubio could defend coming into the NBA. Rubio, of course, has been using his ridiculous length to his advantage against such point guards and should be able to play Collison well.

If Minnesota’s deep bench can beat Indiana’s relatively deep bench (shallower without George Hill, but still), then Minnesota is probably in good shape, since Indiana’s starters will probably be tired after New Jersey yesterday.

The Outlook

While this projects to be a very good game, I like Minnesota’s chances at home against a weary Pacers squad. Then again, I said the same thing about LA on Sunday, and the Wolves played very poorly. And I didn’t like Minnesota’s chances against Houston, who they handled solidly. So. Minnesota will probably lose by 30. It’s going to be a blowout.

Game starts at 7 on Fox Sports North