New York Knicks (12-15) vs Minnesota Timberwolves (13-14)
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Last game: Minnesota: L, 104-97 vs Dallas, New York: 92-85
The Timberwolves lost their second straight game after a three game winning streak, falling to the Mavericks for the first time in three games in this season. Dirk Nowitzki looked much more like the last year’s NBA Finals MVP, scoring 33 points, while Kevin Love scored 31 and pulled in 12 rebounds in his return to action. Turnovers doomed the Wolves however, as they gave the ball away 27 times.
The Knicks held on to beat the Lakers last night. Kobe Bryant scored 34, but Iman Shumpert came off the bench and scored 12 points and Jared Jeffries had 11 points on 4-7 shooting.
Oh, and some guy named Jeremy Lin dropped 38. Or something.
The Key Questions
#1. Do we have to ask questions when Jeremy Lin and Ricky Rubio are matched up against each other?
Well, yeah. But we will make this one first. Sitting in my friend’s living room, his sister is watching MTV2. The crawler at the bottom of MTV2′s screen? “The Rockets feel regret about letting Lin go.” Good lord.
Rubio and Lin have been arguably the two best stories of the year so far. Rubio has energized a franchise that has long been one of the most downtrodden in the NBA. Jeremy Lin has revived the biggest basketball market in the US. The term Linsanity has become a part of the NBA blogosphere vernacular, after just four spectacular games. Knicks ticket sales have risen by 23%.
Without discussing their actual matchup on the floor at all, nights like tonight are the reason the NBA is so compelling: in no other sport are individual story lines on display so clearly for us to see. I, for one, couldn’t be more thrilled.
#2. Oh. Other players too. Which Beasley will show up?
Jonah wrote about Beasley coming off the bench, and I think I agree. Having a player as talented as Beasley come off the bench as a sparkplug for the offense is a really great arrangement for the Wolves, and coming off the bench seems to remind him to play his role within the game and forces him to concentrate on the minutes he gets. A Beasley who doesn’t zone out is a Beasley capable of dropping 20 points on 8-11 shooting.
#3. So apart from Lin…how could the Knicks win tonight without ‘Melo and A’mare?
I legitimately have no idea…but the Lakers couldn’t take ‘em. So we will have to see.
The Key Matchups
Jeremy Lin really isn’t that quick. It’s his ability to change speeds that is devastating opponents at the moment. He has been feasting on some weak point guard competition lately, but Rubio is a good defender. Rubio moves his feet well, has great length and works hard. Honestly, tonight will be a great test for both players.
At almost every other position, the Wolves should have the advantage tonight. Presumably, Jared Jeffries will be guarding Love tonight. Pek might struggle with Chandler’s length, but he should be able to outmuscle him. Minnesota’s bench is much deeper, and both teams are coming off a back to back.
But it really will come down to limiting Lin. The way he has galvanized this team has been really special to watch. I’d just prefer that it not be special for one night.
Who really cares? It’s going to be incredibly entertaining either way. Tonight certainly seems like a winnable game for the Wolves. It would be nice to stay at .500, and if they can limit Linsanity, it doesn’t seem like an unreasonable goal at all.
Game starts at 7 on League Pass.