Where: Target Center (GO BUY TICKETS NOW!!!)
See It: FSN
Hear It: WCCO-AM 830
Two teams. Two previews. Two sets of live-tweets. Two recaps. One game. Yep, that’s what I get for being a Timberwolves and a Bobcats blogger. Yes, the Bobcats…you read it right! Anyway, judging by some of the reactions I get when I tell people that I write for a Bobcats blog, I feel like I should use this space to mention a few things about them that you may not know. It’s not like as a lifelong Minnesotan I decided to follow a second team closely for no reason, you know.
(In case you’re interested, here’s my preview for Rufus on Fire.)
– They’re Bad…Just Not Historically Bad: Admittedly, many of their numbers as a team range from average-to-bad. They do one thing well, and it’s an important thing, which is not turning the ball over. In fact, they have the second-lowest Turnover% (Percentage of possessions that end in a turnover.) This could pose a problem for the Wolves, who are 22nd in TO%, turning it over roughly 15% of the time.
– Michael Kidd-Gilchrist vs Andrei Kirilenko: I can’t wait for this, really. I don’t know how much Kirilenko will play the three, but if he does it will be one of the league’s up and coming stat-stuffers against one of the league’s veteran best stat-stuffers. Who will out-hustle who?!
– You think the Timberwolves like to hustle…but so do the Bobcats. New coach Mike Dunlap has done a great job with his new personnel and getting them to constantly exerting full effort. They will press on defense, and they will push the ball on offense.
– They can score: The Bobcats enter tonight’s game 8th in PPG. Two possible problems, however. 1) They can’t stop anybody (30th in opp. Ppg); 2)The Wolves allow the second fewest points per game, mitigating their 23rd ranking in ppg some.
– You guys should see the backcourt: Ok, even when their backcourt is healthy, it’s part of the problem with the imbalance of the Bobcats’ roster. The good: they can score; which is fun as a basketball fan, period. The bad: they’re undersized pretty much all the time. The tandems of Walker-Sessions and Henderson-Gordon are legitimately deep, although diminutive.
With all of that being said, the ‘Cats come into town on the second night of a back-to-back, and perhaps toeing the fine line between confident and over-confident following a 92-76 victory against the Wizards on Tuesday. It’ll be up to what’s left of the Wolves’ rested roster to counteract Charlotte’s energy with some energy of their own.
Don’t forget that the Timberwolves are just 6-10 all-time against the Bobcats, either. If the Wolves can get a good Derrick Williams game, and survive the possibility of no Pekovic, then that greatly increases their odds. Healthy, this Bobcats team likely wouldn’t be much of a problem, but now the Wolves will likely need a solid all-around team effort against this scrappy team. Fortunately, they at least have more experience with scrappy than Charlotte.
Kemba Walker — PG — Luke Ridnour
Jeff Taylor — SG — Kendall Gill
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist — SF — Derrick Williams
Byron Mullens — PF — Andrei Kirilenko
Brendan Haywood — C — Felton Spencer
(Just an educated guess on who will play for the Wolves since we don’t know if *takes a deep breath* JJ Barea, Brandon Roy, or Nikola Pekovic will play in addition to Chase Budinger, Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio being out…still.)