Category: 2011-2012 Game Previews

Game 65 Preview: GSW vs MIN, and Utah's playoff picture

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Golden State Warriors (22-41) vs Minnesota Timberwolves (26-38)

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Last game: Minnesota: W (!!!), 91-80 vs Detroit, Golden State: L, 99-96 vs Houston

Lets be honest: I really wanted a picture of JJ Barea and Nate Robinson.
Let's be honest: I really wanted a picture of JJ Barea and Nate Robinson.

The Wolves, with nothing left to play for but pride, defeated Detroit on Thursday, ending a dreadful April losing streak. Nikola Pekovic was solid, scoring 23 points on 10-17 shooting, while the Wolves blew out Detroit for three quarters. The Pistons made a run in the 4th behind Will Bynum’s 17 points, but the Wolves’ lead was too much, and they closed out Detroit.

Golden State, to the horror of their fan base, stayed with the Rockets for much of last night’s game against the Rockets before successfully losing. Despite the absence of DavidLeeNateRobinsonAndrisBiedri-
nsDorrellWrightandChrisWright, the Warriors were competitive throughout, getting 24 points from Klay Thompson and 19 from Brandon Rush off the bench.

The Key Questions

#1. Please for the love of everything, just make the regular season stop.

If I wanted to watch the D-League, I’d travel an hour north to see the Sioux Falls SkyForce. It’s depressing to see those same players when I fire up League Pass every evening.

#2. Will Kevin Love be back?

He’s a possibility, but does anyone honestly want to see him on the floor? Why WHY would we want to see him jeopardize his own health to play in a garbage time game that means nothing to Minnesota? Let Anthony Randolph continue to earn a contract for next year. You know, from some other team.

#3. Hindsight is 20-20, but does anyone else wish Minnesota had picked Klay Thompson instead of Derrick Williams?

I know, I know. This is an illogical premise because at the time of the draft, Williams was the clear second pick behind Kyrie Irving. But Thompson is shooting the ball confidently, making 42% of his threes (Wes Johnson, for reference, is hitting 30%), shooting an eFG% of .525 and generally playing like a decent wing.

Hey Golden State: could we interest you in Anthony Randolph?

The Key Matchups

Mickell Gladness. (I had to look up how to spell his first name). Jeremy Tyler (hahahaha). Charles Jenkins. These guys started for Golden State against Houston. If Minnesota doesn’t win, it’s because their starting lineup will likely include Martell Webster and AR-15. I can’t bring myself to break down these matchups for you. I’m sorry.

Instead, Utah! The Jazz owe their first pick to Minnesota if Utah makes the playoffs. Here’s a breakdown of what’s going on.

  • The Jazz moved into 8th place in the Western Conference with a dramatic overtime win over Orlando last night, while Phoenix fell to the Nuggets. The Jazz have a one game lead on the Suns.
  • Phoenix owns the tiebreaker between the two teams.
  • Both teams have two games left, including one head to head matchup on Tuesday. Neither team plays until Tuesday. With a win, Utah clinches a playoff berth. If Phoenix wins, they move back into 8th place going forward.
  • The last game of the season for Utah is against Portland.
  • Phoenix ends its season against San Antonio, which could be tough (if San Antonio has something to play for) or easy (if the Spurs rest everyone).

Simple enough. Conventional wisdom dictates that the Jazz should have the inside track on the playoffs at this point. But two things have been made abundantly clear about the Basketball Deities this season: they absolutely detest Minnesota and Steve Nash is an Immortal. So knock on every piece of wood and keep your conscience clear.

The Outlook

It really depends who is playing for which team. Watch this game at your own risk.

Game starts at 6 pm on League Pass.

Game 64 Preview: Detroit Pistons vs Minnesota Timberwolves

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Detroit Pistons (22-39) vs Minnesota Timberwolves (25-38)

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Last game: Timberwolves: L, 91-84 vs Memphis, Detroit: L, 116-84 vs Atlanta

The Wolves take on the Pistons in Detroit tonight.
The Wolves take on the Pistons in Detroit tonight.

The Timberwolves showed some actual fight against the Grizzlies on Tuesday until some big shots by Rudy Gay in the final minutes allowed Memphis to pull away. Gay finished with 28 points and nine rebounds, while JJ Barea went off for 28 points on 10-20 shooting for Minnesota.

The Pistons got crushed by Atlanta on Tuesday. The Hawks shot poorly from deep (28% for the game), but six players scored in double figures as Atlanta cruised to an easy home win.

The Key Questions

#1. Can the Wolves end that damned April streak?

You’ve heard the gruesome numbers and I don’t need to reiterate them. You know as well as I do that it’s been a long time since the Wolves have gotten a win. They have three games left: Detroit, Golden State and Denver. If Minnesota wants to end the season on a good note, all three are potentially winnable.

#2. Who steps up tonight?

The cast of characters Minnesota trots out on the floor is strange, fluid and difficult to predict. This opens the door for odd people to have a big night, thus Anthony Randolph’s three game stretch of dominance. I’m stretching for silver linings here, but since the Wolves have no reason to tank, it can be fun watching Minnesota’s lesser known players put up good stat-lines.

#3. How tough are the Pistons at home?

It’s been a rough year for the Pistons, but not in Detroit. Though their overall record is worse than Minnesota’s, the Pistons are still a winning team at home, going 16-14 on the season.

The Key Matchups

Brandon Knight has put together a decent rookie campaign for the Pistons at point guard, but he turns the ball over quite a bit. Knight’s assist to turnover ratio per 36 minutes is 4.2/2.9. Defensively, Malcolm Lee could be a factor if put to work against Knight.

Nikola Pekovic will be guarding Greg Monroe, a large, strong center much like himself, with soft touch around the basket. Not a battle I would be looking forward to on either side.

The Outlook

On paper, the Wolves should be able to pull out a win. Minnesota is 11th in the league in offensive efficiency according to Basketball Reference, while the Pistons are 28th, scoring just over 90 points per game.

But Minnesota has been hot and cold recently. Hard to tell what to expect from this one.

Game starts at 6:30 on League Pass

Game 62 Preview: Indiana Pacers vs Minnesota Timberwolves

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Indiana Pacers (38-22) vs Minnesota Timberwolves (25-36)

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Last game: Minnesota: L, 115-110 vs Oklahoma City, Indiana: W, 105-99 vs Milwaukee

Kevin Love remains unavailable for Minnesotas matchup with Indiana tonight.
Kevin Love remains unavailable for tonight's matchup with Indiana.

The Wolves scrapped away against the Thunder on Saturday, but were unable to pull out a win. Michael Beasley scored 26 points and JJ Barea added 24, but Russell Westbrook scored 35, while Kevin Durant put up 40 points including 16 in the final seven minutes, as the Thunder sent Minnesota to their 10th consecutive loss.

The Pacers beat the Bucks on Saturday, dealing Milwaukee a very damaging blow to their fading playoff hopes. Indiana is third in the Eastern Conference, maintaining a 2.5 game lead over the Celtics, who have moved up to 4th place.

The Key Questions

#1. Can Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph continue to pad their end of the year stats?

Randolph and Beasley helped the Wolves stay in the game on Saturday. I may be in the minority, but I would support Beasley getting another contract from the Wolves, if the numbers are right. If Randolph gets another Minnesota contract based off these games, I’ll throw things.

#2. Are the Pacers title contenders?

Here’s something to consider: the Bulls are injury-prone, and may be worn out by the playoffs. The Heat are flawed. The Celtics are surging, but fragile. The Hawks can’t be trusted. The Magic hate each other. The Knicks have spent two years trying to find their identity and still haven’t pulled it off.

I’m not saying the Pacers are favorites. But in a weird, shortened season, why COULDN’T they be considered contenders?

#3. Are there Wolves questions that need to be asked at this point?

Not really. You know the drill. Injuries, losses, and a lost season that should have been so much more. Other than that, I’m not really bitter about anything.

The Key Matchups

The biggest matchup for the Wolves will be Nikola Pekovic against Indiana’s all-star giant Roy Hibbert. While Pekovic is much better at scoring in the restricted area (64% to Hibbert’s 57%), Hibbert’s range far outstrips Pekovic. Pek has struggled from outside the restricted area, shooting 31% from in the paint and 11% on mid-range shots, as opposed to 51% and 33% from Hibbert.

Basically, a lot of numbers to say that Hibbert can shoot from further out than Pekovic, and since Hibbert is so tall, Pek might struggle.

Danny Granger is going to be a problem for Minnesota. In their last meeting, Granger scored 36 points, including 5-8 shooting from 3 point range and 13-15 from the line. Martell Webster will be guarding him. I don’t have anything optimistic to add to this.

The Outlook

Bleak. Again. The Pacers have an Eastern Conference playoff lead to maintain. The Wolves have five games to mail in. Just…five more games…

Game starts at 6 pm on League Pass

Weekend recap; Wolves drop two

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Lumping recaps into one big post seems like the easiest thing to do at this point. Reminiscent of the Wolves’ recent play, all of the games and the analysis has become so cookie-cutter, it’s a waste of time to even title two separate posts.

Here’s a breakdown of thought-processes after watching a game the last two weeks: Barea turns the ball over a lot; injuries are a pain, literally; the transparency and often complete lack-thereof in what one would call a “defense;” everyone just wants to shoot because if they don’t make something happen, they won’t be on the team next year; injuries really suck; Kevin Love is dearly missed, and I mean the K-Love at midseason, not the worn down horse Adelman rides for 40 mins a night; there are no wing players that have any capability, whatsoever, of creating a shot for himself; and, finally, injuries are the bane of this entire team’s confidence. Screw ‘em.

It’s obviously clear what’s going wrong lately, and it really starts with that last one with everything else piled on top, just as I listed them above. The Rubio injury was the killer, but there are other ones that were serious blows too. It started off with Malcolm Lee not even being able to debut until the end of March. Obviously a rookie reserve going down isn’t going to make much of a difference, but when role players like JJ Barea and Michael Beasley go down, things start to get a little dicey. Add in Nikola Pekovic, Luke Ridnour, and now Kevin Love, that completes the injury-cycle full-circle.

What we have seen, more prominently in the last three games, is a stronger presence from the bench guys, who have seen an increase in minutes because of the injuries. Guys like Anthony Randolph and even Michael Beasley have beefed up their scoring punches. The reason being is because their careers in Minnesota are indeed in jeopardy. With just a little time left in the season, it’s turned into tryouts for guys on expiring contracts. For the most part, their impressing but just knowing who those two players are and judging the entire scope of their NBA careers, it doesn’t seem likely that 20-point performances in the garbage time of the season is going to alter the stigma their games hold, as well as what they can contribute to the Wolves in the future.

That’s what the rest of this season is about: the future. If they can dig deep and pull out some wins or even minor, moral victories, it will pay dividends heading into the offseason. It’s all about confidence and the Wolves have none right now. They haven’t won a game in the month of April, and the only possible sure-win in sight is a bout in Detroit against the Pistons.

Until then the games, and, consequently, my recaps, will likely be drab and full of pessimism. But within the lifeless, consistent games/recaps, just know there is a silver lining that the future will be better. We can only hope because it’s been downright ugly as of late.

Game 61 Preview: Oklahoma City Thunder vs Minnesota Timberwolves

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Oklahoma City Thunder (43-18) vs Minnesota Timberwolves (25-35)

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Last game: Minnesota: L, 95-82 vs Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City: W, 115-89 vs Sacramento

The Timberwolves played the Clippers on Thursday without Kevin Love, who sat out with a concussion. Minnesota fought, but were outmanned and outgunned by the Clippers, who pulled away in the second half.

The Thunder demolished Sacramento Friday night. Durant scored 29 and Westbrook scored 22, while the Thunder held DeMarcus Cousins to 9 points on 3-14 shooting.

Oh yeah, and they did this:

The Key Questions

#1. Will Kevin Love be available to play?

Negative, which is doubly unfortunate. Now we won’t get a repeat performance of March 23′s thrilling double OT game. Love was brilliant, scoring 51 points and dueling Durant and Westbrook, but he wasn’t enough to spur Minnesota to victory. Unfortunately, the rematch looks like it will have to wait until next year.

#2. Will Anthony Randolph continue to play well?

In his last two games, Randolph has been impressive, both offensively and defensively, especially against Denver. AR scored 28 points on 11-16 shooting and blocked 5 shots. Against the Clippers, Randolph continued to be efficient, scoring 16 points on 7-12 shooting. The strangest sentence I will write today: Anthony Randolph will be key to the Wolves’ fortunes tonight.

#3. Will Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combine for 100 points?

The Wolves have historically had trouble guarding Durant, and they will be starting Barea against Westbrook. Oh yes. There will be blood.

The Key Matchups

The biggest matchup for Minnesota will be Nikola Pekovic against Kendrick Perkins. Perkins is one of the few centers in the league who can match up with Pekovic strength-wise, but the Wolves will need Pek’s production to have any kind of a chance against the Thunder.

The Wolves will need to do their best to limit Durant/Westbrook. It would be an understatement to call this a tall order, but if the Wolves force the rest of the Thunder to beat them instead, the game might be more competitive.

The Outlook

Ho boy. This could get ugly. On the one hand, the Wolves seem to be playing with a little more pride. On the other hand, Oklahoma City is a much, much better team.

Game starts at 7 on Fox Sports North

Game 60 Preview: Los Angeles Clippers vs Minnesota Timberwolves

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Los Angeles Clippers (35-23) vs Minnesota Timberwolves (25-34)

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Last game: Minnesota: L, 113-107 vs Denver, Los Angeles Clippers: W, 100-98 vs Oklahoma City

The Wolves will need a big night from players like Beasley to compete tonight.
The Wolves will need a big night from players like Beasley to compete tonight.

File this under “injury to insult:” Kevin Love went down in the first quarter of last night’s game with a concussion. Love took an elbow from Denver’s JaVale McGee, which may have ended his season. Despite a huge rally from the Wolves, Denver put Minnesota away late, moving into 7th place in the Western Conference.

The Clippers won a statement game against the Thunder last night. Chris Paul took over the game in the second half, including a layup in the final seconds that clinched the game for LA.

The Key Questions

#1. Without Kevin Love for the next few games, can the Timberwolves compete with the Clippers?

It’s hard to imagine that they can. Perhaps the Clippers will have a lapse in concentration the night after a big win, but it seems more likely that Minnesota will be taken out of the game early.

Derrick Williams will likely get the start opposite Blake Griffin. With Williams starting, look for Michael Beasley to get more time coming off the bench, and for him to be more of a focal point offensively. This could be a good thing: Beasley dropped 27 on the Clippers last time these teams met, shooting 11-15 from the field.

#2. Can Minnesota’s role players continue to step up?

Last night after Love went down, several Timberwolves players stepped up and made the game respectable. They will need to continue to play well to have a chance tonight. If the Wolves can get another performance like the one they got from Anthony Randolph last night (28 points on 11-16 shooting), they could make this a game (unlikely).

The Key Matchups

How much will DeAndre Jordan affect Nikola Pekovic’s production? Jordan is so long, he is a tough shot-blocking matchup for every post in the NBA. He isn’t, however, great at helping out on defense.

The mere thought of JJ Barea trying to guard Chris Paul makes my teeth grind. Paul has been playing well lately (21 points, 10 assists in his last five games), and he is a great defender, leading the NBA in steals. He even has a size advantage on Barea. This could be ugly.

The Outlook

The last time these teams played, Minnesota won by 12. At that time, the Wolves were streaking, Love and Rubio were both healthy and active, and everything was a little brighter in Minneapolis. Since then, everything has gone wrong for the Wolves, and things have started going right for the Clippers, who are 8-2 in their last 10. Unfortunately, it’s hard to imagine the Clippers slipping tonight.

Game starts at 7 pm on Fox Sports North

Game 59 Preview: Denver Nuggets vs Minnesota Timberwolves

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Denver Nuggets (31-26) vs Minnesota Timberwolves (25-33)

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Last game: Minnesota: L, 114-90 vs Phoenix, Denver: W, 123-84 vs Golden State

The Timberwolves visit Denver tonight in a game that would have meant quite a lot about a month ago.
The Timberwolves visit Denver tonight in a game that would have meant quite a lot a month ago.

Minnesota completely failed to show up for a nationally televised home game against the Suns on Monday. Everything about Minnesota’s box score fit the mold of every other Minnesota box score this season.

The Nuggets crushed the Warriors on Monday in Denver. Kenneth Faried had one of his best games of the season, scoring 27 points on 12-18 shooting and grabbing 17 rebounds. I’m not much of a fan of +/- statistics, but Faried was a rather ridiculous +33 for the game.

Denver continues to cling to the 8th and final playoff spot, leading Phoenix by a game and Utah by a game and a half. The Nuggets are 5-5 in their last 10 games.

The Key Questions

#1. Should we be worried about Kevin Love?

Love doesn’t seem to have quit on this season yet. He continues to put up big scoring games, though his field goal percentage continues to fall as his body absorbs the abuse of this absurd season.

One would like to believe that Love, like Minnesota’s fans, sees this lost season as an anomaly that will be corrected with a real season, real practice and real rest time, one in which Minnesota’s point guard prodigy doesn’t go down with a season ending knee injury.

But of course, we can’t be certain. In the meantime, look for Love to put up 25+ points on 20+ shots tonight.

#2. Can the Wolves top 100?

The Wolves are 1-7 in their last eight games, and in six of those games, they have failed to break the century mark. In the two games they DID break 100, they still lost, because the defense has been absolutely awful. Still. Getting past 100 should at least give them a fighting chance.

The Outlook

I apologize for the shortened preview, but considering the effort Minnesota has been putting forth lately, perhaps it’s appropriate. The Wolves have looked tired and lethargic in all of their last six games. There’s little reason to believe tonight will be different.

Game starts at 8 pm on League Pass

Game Preview: New Orleans Hornets vs Minnesota Timberwolves

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New Orleans Hornets (14-41) vs Minnesota Timberwolves (25-31)

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Last game: Minnesota: L, 97-94 vs Golden State, New Orleans: L, 128-103 vs San Antonio

Eric Gordons return to action could be bad news for Minnesota.
Eric Gordon's return to action could be bad news for Minnesota.

On Wednesday, the Wolves managed to drop a game to a team that is actively trying to lose for a better draft pick. Wayne Ellington scored 17 on 7-11 shooting off the bench, but four Warrior starters scored in double figures as Golden State rallied from a big first half deficit to get the win.

The Hornets were convincingly beaten by the Spurs on Friday night despite Eric Gordon’s 31 points. It was Gordon’s third game back from a knee injury that has forced him to miss all but four of New Orleans’ games this season.

The Key Questions

#1. What will Michael Beasley be able to contribute?

Beasley, along with Pek and Barea, should be in uniform tonight. Beasley’s toe, according to a Jerry Zgoda report, is feeling somewhat better, but he will still have to wear a shoe one size too big. Hopefully Beas isn’t rushing to come back from this injury.

#2. Can the Timberwolves capitalize on the extended rest?

Minnesota had two consecutive nights off. New Orleans faced the red-hot Spurs last night. If rest has anything to do with this game, the Wolves should be able to get a win tonight.

#3. I know this is cheating, but should you read Sebastian Pruiti’s breakdown of Kevin Love’s offensive game?

Yes. Yes you should. Fascinating stuff, with a nice little note at the bottom that should be very encouraging for T-Wolves fans.

The Key Matchups

The return of Eric Gordon should be a frightening prospect for Timberwolves fans. The Hornets managed to grind out a win against the Wolves last time these teams met, and Minnesota was less banged up then. Admittedly, the Wolves were reeling from the news that their sensational rookie point guard was done for the year, but Eric Gordon’s return spells trouble the Minnesota. Wes Johnson will more than likely get the assignment. Gordon has picked up right where he left off last year in his return, averaging 22.7 points in three games.

Chris Kaman inexplicably survived the trade deadline in New Orleans. His field goal percentage is as low as it has ever been, but his points per 36 minutes is the third highest in his career, and his rebounds have stayed steady at 9.8. Fortunately for Minnesota, Pekovic is in the lineup and reportedly feeling much better, coming back from a sickness as well as his ankle injury.

The Outlook

It’s difficult to predict how the Wolves will perform from game to game. Tonight is no exception. On the road, against a team that they should be able to beat, don’t be entirely surprised if the Wolves suffer a frustrating let-down. The Hornets will have a little extra motivation to beat the Wolves as well, since New Orleans owns Minnesota’s 2012 draft pick. Sigh.

Game starts at 7 PM on League Pass.

Game 56 Preview: Golden State Warriors vs Minnesota Timberwolves

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Golden State Warriors (20-32) vs Minnesota Timberwolves (25-30)

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Last game: Minnesota: L, 116-108 vs Sacramento, Golden State: L, 98-94 vs Memphis

Kevin Love and David Lee square off tonight in Minnesota.
Kevin Love and David Lee square off tonight in Minnesota.

The Wolves struggled through the end of their road trip, falling to the Kings on Monday. Kevin Love led Minnesota with 23 points, but Tyreke Evans went for 24 points and seven assists. Worse for the Wolves: Luke Ridnour badly sprained his ankle in the 3rd quarter, leaving the desperately understaffed point guard position to rookie Malcolm Lee for the foreseeable future.

I’m not suspicious that the Warriors lost to the Grizzlies. After all, it’s not like another team has their protected pick, and if the Warriors get the seventh pick or higher, Golden State won’t have a first round selection in this loaded draft. And it’s not like the Warriors led for most of the game while Memphis played like crap, then somehow managed to outcrap the Grizz in the final quarter.

Wait, that is what happened? Hmm. Something smells fishy.

The Key Questions

#1. Will the Warriors actively try to lose this game?

I mean. They won’t be jacking up shots from half-court and allowing the Wolves to turn the game into a layup line. Well, they might do the latter: Golden State’s defense is shoddy, 5th worst in defensive efficiency.

But the Warriors have clearly given up on this season, and since Utah owns their draft pick unless it’s in the top seven, the Wolves have a real opportunity to be handed a game tonight.

#2. How will Malcolm Lee perform with real minutes?

Hardwood Paroxysm posted a nice piece (complete with video) about Malcolm Lee’s opportunity to show his worth. In the videos are a couple of nice examples of the on ball defense Lee brings to the table. He moves his feet very well, and has shown a good feel for the point guard position on offense.

Obviously, Timberwolves fans wish that Ridnour and Rubio were both around to take Lee’s minutes away from him, but this will be an excellent opportunity to see what he can do, especially defensively.

#3. How many minutes can Pek handle?

Pekovic was apparently champing at the bit to come back from his injury, but Adelman was reluctant to allow him minutes until the Wolves could establish that game time couldn’t hurt him. Apparently, it can’t.

Of course, that really depends on how you define “hurt.” Did Pekovic worsen his injury? No. Bone spurs in your ankles do not, by all reports, get worse when tread on. But Pekovic was clearly still hurting against Sacramento, unless he was grimacing because the Wolves were losing to Sacramento. That would be utterly understandable.

The Key Matchups

We already covered Malcolm Lee’s opportunity to start, but he will be opposite another rookie tonight in Charles Jenkins. While the game itself may not be representative of either team’s potential (Minnesota because of injuries, Golden State because of this), the matchup might well be competitive as two young players get an opportunity to show their abilities.

Kevin Love will be defending David Lee, who is averaging his second highest points per 36 minutes of his career, but also the lowest effective field goal percentage. Love also will probably spend some time defending Jeremy Tyler (haha) who started (HAHA) and played 30 minutes against the Grizzlies (HAHAHA).

Richard Jefferson has been coming off the bench for the Warriors, and has averaged 15 points on 55% shooting this season. He may cause some problems for the Wolves.

The Outlook

If Minnesota loses tonight, we will know the injuries are really getting to them. The Wolves were a better team than the Warriors before Golden State began intentionally losing a lot of games, and Minnesota should continue to be so thanks to Kevin Love.

The Wolves won’t make the playoffs this year, but at least a soft schedule here at the end might allow them to end the season on a good note.

Game starts at 7 on Fox Sports North

Game 55 Preview: Sacramento Kings vs Minnesota Timberwolves

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Sacramento Kings (18-34) vs Minnesota Timberwolves (25-29)

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Last game: Minnesota: L, 119-106 vs Portland, Sacramento: L. 111-99 vs New Jersey

One of the many players Minnesota will miss in tonights matchup with the Kings.
One of the many players Minnesota will miss in tonight's matchup with the Kings.

The Timberwolves are sliding quickly. Despite Kevin Love’s 26 points and nine rebounds against the Blazers yesterday, Minnesota was a step behind the Blazers for most of the game and lost their eighth in 11 tries.

Sacramento lost to New Jersey, putting forth a lackluster effort on Saturday, the second night of a back to back. Tyreke Evans had one of his best shooting nights of the season, putting up 23 points on a tidy 9-15 from the field, but Deron Williams eviscerated the Kings, scoring 19 points and dishing out 15 assists.

The Key Questions

#1. So, will anyone actually be watching this game?

Besides me, that is. Follow me on Twitter (@xtomchaptersx) and talk to me if you are watching, or if you just feel like talking about the Wolves while you watch the NCAA Finals and wish Minnesota still had their own pick. Sigh.

#2. Let’s talk about Isaiah Thomas for a second.

Not a question, but I didn’t know how else to awkwardly transition into this. Not only has Isaiah Thomas been surprisingly productive, he has done it quite efficiently. Thomas’ true shooting percent is currently at 57%, and his turnover percentage is 15.3%. Both marks are significantly better than Houston’s star of efficiency Kyle Lowry. Note: I’m not saying Isaiah Thomas is better than Lowry. I’m just pointing out this fact: Mr. Irrelevant is really good.

#3. Any update on the injury front?

Nope. Beas, Pek and Barea will all be sitting out again tonight. Pekovic apparently has been working out with the team and hopes to return soon, but if the Wolves lose anymore games, letting him sit out the season might be prudent: lower leg injuries shouldn’t be missed with. Just ask Steph Curry.

The Key Matchups

DeMarcus Cousins will likely be stuck with Kevin Love tonight. Love is understandably exhausted, and has been playing like a hero for weeks. But if he can muster up the energy, Cousins can’t defend his range.

Luke Ridnour will have to try and contain the aforementioned Thomas. Ridnour has quietly been continuing his excellent play: he had 21 against the Blazers yesterday.

The Outlook

The second night of a back to back is tough for every team, and the Kings are above .500 at home. Tonight will be a challenge for the Wolves.

Game starts at 9 on Fox Sports North