- Tip-Off: 12:30 (PT)
- TV: CSN-Bay Area
Minnesota Timberwolves Team Profile
- Offensive Efficiency: 100.4 (23rd in NBA)
- Defensive Efficiency: 103.0 (14th in NBA)
- Points: Kevin Love, 18.3 PPG (injured) – Nikola Pekovic, 15.9 PPG
- Rebounds: Love, 14.0 RPG – Pekovic, 8.9 RPG
- Assists: Ricky Rubio, 6.6 APG
- Steals: Rubio, 1.96 SPG
- Blocks: Greg Stiemsma, 1.26 BPG
- Field Goal Percentage: Kirilenko, 51.1%
- Three-Point Field Goal Percentage: JJ Barea, 34.4%
Scope The Opposition: A Wolf Among Wolves
Feel bad for the Minnesota Timberwolves. This was supposed to their year. When trio of upstarts Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, and Nikola Pekovic led an overhauled roster filled with proven veterans to Western Conference legitimacy and a likely playoff birth.
But Love has missed 34 games with separate hand injuries. Rubio’s played in just half the season after recovering from surgery to repair a torn ACL and has been very slow to adjust. Offseason acquisitions Chase Budinger and Brandon Roy have played less than six games each due to persistent knee issues and remain out indefinitely, knee and hip surgeries cost Malcolm Lee the season after 16 games and Pekovic, Andrei Kirilenko, JJ Barea and Alexey Shved have each suffered nagging, minor injuries that have caused them to miss at least four games.
If there was ever a snake-bitten team or reason to believe injuries are contagious, this is the squad and this is the season.
Despite Love’s initial absence, Minnesota somehow kept its collective head afloat over the season’s first couple weeks. He returned to the lineup on November 21st when the Wolves were 5-4, and his presence helped them to a 15-14 record after a January 3rd win over the Denver Nuggets. But that victory came at a price, as Love re-fractured the third metacarpal bone in his hand that kept him out at the beginning of the year. Consequently, Minnesota’s been in a tailspin ever since.
The Timberwolves are 5-18 over their last 23 games and haven’t won consecutive games in the process. Minnesota’s plus/minus is a miserable -5.4 over that period, and – despite well documented, team-wide struggles from beyond the arc – offense hasn’t been the crux of its many problems. The Wolves’ offensive efficiency is 101.0 since January 3rd, a mark that would rank 18th in the NBA over the entire season; that’s not great, obviously, but hardly the death-knell a 5-18 record suggests it would be.
Defense is the far bigger problem, and why Minnesota is now firmly out of any playoff discussion and already has its eye on lottery balls. The Timberwolves’ 106.9 defensive efficiency in this awful stretch is a hair worse than Cleveland’s 28th-ranked, season-long mark. The opposition is shooting a collective 40.4% from three-point range over that stretch, and is averaging 23.1 assists per game despite a relatively slow pace, too. When the fact that teams are shooting 48.5% from the field against you isn’t your biggest deficiency, you know you’re in trouble.
Basically, then, expect the Warriors to cure some of their recent offensive ills today. Steph Curry, Klay Thompson or both should have prolific days from beyond the arc, and the ball movement that’s a hallmark of Golden State’s success may make a rousing return, too.
Statistical support for this article provided by NBA.com.
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