Return of the Unicorn: Mavs at Timberwolves Preview

The Maiden And The Unicorn, fresco by Dominico Zampieri

Ricky! Knock it off. I see what you’re doing…

Where: Target Center (Get your tickets!)

When: 7pm

See It: My29

Hear It: WCCO-AM 830

In European folklore, the unicorn is a mythical creature that was seen as a creature of purity and grace, and could only be captured by a virgin. Well, the Timberwolves may not be pure, per se — we’ve made that walk of shame a few more times than we care to admit — but we proved that to be false and managed to capture our own, and he returns tonight. No, this isn’t about me attending my first Timberwolves game of the season; this is about Ricky Rubio making his return to the court tonight!

The unicorn’s horn was also believed to be able to cure the ill, and make undrinkable water drinkable. Well, from 2011 to 2012 our unicorn turned the league’s sixth best offense to the eighteenth, and the league’s twenty-seventh best to the twenty-fifth. This team currently sits fifth in opponents points per game, and that’s without a key part of their defense– Rubio.

You know what else Ricky and unicorns have in common? They’re both beloved by the ladies. Seriously, Leonardo DaVinci once wrote this about unicorns:

The unicorn, through its intemperance and not knowing how to control itself, for the love it bears to fair maidens forgets its ferocity and wildness; and laying aside all fear it will go up to a seated damsel and go to sleep in her lap, and thus the hunters take it.

Young woman seated in a landscape with a unicorn” –

Your wife/girlfriend/mother/sister may not like basketball, but I promise she likes Ricky Rubio, in a surely innocent way. More importantly, the Timberwolves managed to get to 11-9 and sixth in the West despite his absence, which is all we could’ve asked for.

(I’m still watching you, Ricky.)

And Rubio returns tonight against the Dallas Mavericks, who have played three games in four nights, on the second night of a back-to-back, and suffered a humiliating 95-74 defeat last night against the Raptors.

I wanted to see Dirk Nowitzki for the first time tonight, but he’s out and I get Derek Fisher instead, because life isn’t fair. Ever.

Then there’s OJ Mayo, who’s having a ridiculously good season, averaging 20-4-3 on .484 and .508 shooting. Maybe not ridiculously good, but very efficient, especially for a guard. Which is what they’ve from players like Mayo and supporting players like Shawn Marion and *gulp* Chris Kaman. Oh, good; I get to watch Chris Kaman, too.

Perhaps their biggest factor off of the bench has been Vince Carter, much to the delight of a 10-year old Derek in a purple #15 Raptors jersey. Whether he’s been accused of coasting during games, earning the nickname “Wince” for faking injuries (He’s been remarkably healthy for most of his career), or forcing his way out of Toronto, Vince has endured his share of scrutiny despite being continually productive.

With all of that being said, after Vince’s second season with the Orlando Magic, it seemed as if he was on his way out and was dealt to the Phoenix Suns, who chose not to re-sign him at the end of the 2011 season. Fast forward to this season and Vince is shooting threes like he’s back in New Jersey, has the highest PER in three years, and has even evolved into a solid man-to-man defender in the post.

Hold on. I need a moment to process this…

…ok, I’m good now.

You want to feel old? Vince turns 36 in February and is in his 14th season in the league. Seriously, wasn’t 1999 like a few weeks ago? It was about that long ago I attended a Timberwolves-Raptors game in a Vince Carter jersey, and I remember it like it was yesterday. Unreal.

Anyway, good game tonight, and may help the Wolves’ playoff odds to win this game since the Mavs figure to be in the picture for much of the rest of the season. And if you’re near section 210, stop by and say ‘hi’.

Projected Starting Fives: 

Derek Fisher — PG — Unicorn

OJ Mayo — SG — Luke Ridnour

Dahntay Jones — SF — Andrei Kirilenko

Shawn Marion — PF — Kevin Love (Hopefully)

Chris Kaman — C — Nikola Pekovic

About Derek James

In addition to writing for Howlin' T-Wolf, Derek James writes about basketball Hardwood Paroxysm in the ESPN TrueHoop Network and covers the Charlotte Bobcats for SB Nation’s Rufus on Fire. Andray Blatche and Isaiah Rider follow him on Twitter.