By: Dan Slaubaugh
Happy Tuesday, Wolves fans.
Tonight, the Memphis Grizzlies (2-1) are in town to face the Wolves (0-2) in what should be a packed Target Center crowd for the home opener.
In two games under (one against Memphis) new head coach Tom Thibodeau, the Wolves have held early double digit leads only to completely squander them in the 2nd half. The Grizzlies have started the season strong at 2-1 with wins over Minnesota and Washington.
The Wolves look to get revenge tonight without starting point guard Ricky Rubio, who is out indefinitely after suffering a sprained right elbow against Sacramento on Saturday.
What: Wolves - Grizzlies
When: 7:10pm CT
Where: Target Center - Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Where to watch: Fox Sports North
Where to listen: 830 WCCO Radio
What to watch for:
Dunn's minutes: Kris Dunn has played just 35 minutes over his first two NBA games, so we shouldn't expect him to play over 35 minutes a night in place of Ricky Rubio. Expect Dunn to receive around 32 minutes with John Lucas III or Tyus Jones garnering the rest of the 15-17 minutes. Hence, the Wolves bench will have to find a way to gel with a new floor general leading the 2nd unit.
How will MIN adjust, finish strong?: The Wolves were outscored 52-39 in the 2nd half of the season opener against Memphis due in large part to poor defense (particularly protecting the 3pt line), poor rebounding, and poor free throw shooting. Thibodeau has found some good things in this team so far, particularly their fast starts, but realizes his young players need to find a way to finish ballgames. The next step is reducing mental mistakes in crunch time, and hitting their dang free throws.
Rebounding: Whoever leads tonight's rebounding category will have a good chance of walking away with a victory. Zach Randolph has been an absolute beast so far this season averaging 18pts/9rbs per game and killed the Wolves in the season opener. That said, Minnesota will need contributions from their entire frontcourt tonight if they want to keep Gasol and Randolph off the glass.
Karl-Anthony Towns is averaging just 5 rebounds per game.
The Wolves have struggled at the free throw line through the first two games, shooting 69% at the line vs. Memphis and 71% at the line vs. Sacramento.
Gorgui Dieng comes into tonight's game fresh off of signing a four-year, $63 million contract extension. The move was great for both parties involved.
Dieng has grabbed 27 rebounds in the first two games, tied for the team's 5th-highest total through the first two games (Garnett 35 in 2004).
Minnesota has a great challenge in front of them tonight with their best playmaker and leader Ricky Rubio unavailable. However, I'm not so sure I can envision a Tom Thibodeau team starting 0-3.
#Wolves win 96-91. Towns gets his first double-double of the season. Dunn puts up 12/6.
Thanks for reading. Enjoy the game. Go Wolves.