By: Dan Slaubaugh
Happy Friday, Wolves fans. Tonight, Kevin Love and the Cavaliers are in town for a matchup against our beloved Timberwolves! Minnesota (12-24) is coming off 4 consecutive losses against fairly weak competition (DET, MIL, PHI, DEN) and has lost 8 of their last 9 games. The Cavs (24-9) are playing very well right now having won 5 straight and 11 of 13. Kyrie Irving is back, and the team is healthy. Things are looking up for them, as it should be, with the amount of talent they possess on their roster. Tonight's game will feature a young, talented team who is still trying to figure things out and a win-now, veteran lead team who's end goal is to win an NBA Championship. This should be fun.
Who: Wolves - Cavs
Where: Target Center. Minneapolis, Minnesota.
When: 7:00 pm CST
Where to watch: ESPN
Where to listen: 830 WCCO Radio
What to watch for:
8-man rotation: David Blatt tends to roll with an 8-man rotation night in and night out. The starters play heavy minutes. JR, LeBron, and Love average over 30 minutes a game, while Thompson hovers around the 27min mark. Kyrie is around 24 mpg because he is still working his way back from injury. Off the bench, they have Dellavedova, Shumpert, and Mozgov giving quality minutes in which are enough to sustain the lead the starters have built. Blatt also likes to sprinkle in Richard Jefferson in spot situations. The rotation has been working, well, because they are 24-9 and are playing great basketball
Wiggins kick-start: Every Wolves fans around the country is hoping that tonight's game against the team that drafted him gives Andrew Wiggins a kick-start. He's been slumping as of late, averaging 16pts, 4rbs, and 2 asts over the past 5 games - while shooting just 67% from the FT line. I'm slightly worried that Sam's offensive system is wearing Andrew out because he has to work so dang hard for every basket, relying on tough two's because the team doesn't shoot 3 pointers.
Anyway, both times AW has faced Cleveland in his career, he has played with an edge and an increased amount of energy. Let's hope tonight he can bounce out of his recent struggles.
Wolves frontcourt: Now that Pekovic is back, look to see how Sam utilizes the frontcourt. Of course, Pek will share most of his minutes with Dieng, because they both come off the bench. Personally, I'd also love to see Pek share some minutes in the frontcourt with Towns because (IMO) they would complement each other very well with each individual's skillset. Tonight, how Sam goes about his ways will be especially important because of the talent level and skill Love and Thompson possess.
Points: Andrew Wiggins (20.1)
Rebounds: Karl-Anthony Towns (9.5)
Assists: Ricky Rubio (9)
Steals: Ricky Rubio (2.3)
Blocks: Karl-Anthony Towns (1.9)
Points: LeBron James (5.8)
Rebounds: Kevin Love (10.6)
Assists: LeBron James (5.9)
Steals: LeBron James (1.5)
Blocks: Timofey Mozgov (0.8)
OUT: Joe Harris (foot)
That's all I have for this one. After going an abysmal 4-12 in the month of December, which was arguably their easiest stretch of the season, things aren't going to get any easier for the Wolves.
Pretty brutal I'd say.
But hey, maybe things will turn around and the Wolves can start figuring some things out - starting tonight, vs. the Cavs, on National TV! Like I have said in the past, it's sports; anything can happen.
As I am writing this, my inner fandom is coming out and because of that I'm predicting a HUGE upset. BECAUSE WHY NOT.
Wolves defeat Cavaliers 103-98 in front of a packed Target Center behind 45+ combined points from AW and KAT.
Thanks for reading. Enjoy the game. Go Wolves!