Team Records: Portland (35-15) at Minnesota (24-26)
Game Info: 5 p.m., TV on CSNNW, Radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: Portland -1
Refs: Scott Foster, Eli Roe, Scott Wall
The Skinny: Friday’s finish sucked, no doubt about it, but the good news is that the team can bounce right back with a win today in Minnesota against a struggling Wolves team. The Wolves have lost four of their last five, with their only win over the woeful Lakers. Minnesota is coming off a Friday night loss in New Orleans.
Last Time They Met: Aldridge and Lopez led the way as the Blazers bounced back from an early season loss to the Wolves with a win at home. Kevin Martin led the way for Minnesota with 30 points in the loss.
Projected Timberwolves Lineup:
PF: Kevin Love (UCLA, 6th Season) – 25.6 PPG, 13.3 RPG, 4 APG
SF: Corey Brewer (Florida, 7th Season) – 11.2 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 1.6 APG
C: Ronny Turiaf (Gonzaga, 9th season) – 3.7 PPG, 4.9 RPG, .6 APG
SG: Kevin Martin (Western Carolina, 10th Season) – 19 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 2 APG
PG: Ricky Rubio (Spain, 3rd season) – 8.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 8.2 APG
Player to Watch: Kevin Martin (pictured at right) – If the Wolves are to make a serious push for the playoffs this season they need a second scorer behind Kevin Love. Martin might be just the ticket for them. Martin is a volume shooter who can either shoot you in to, or out of, any game. When he is going well the Wolves have a shot at winning but when he isn’t, they have a very hard time doing so. Martin doesn’t do a whole lot other than score as his rebounding, defense and passing are all below average to poor. Still, you can’t win games if you can’t score points and Martin is key to the Wolves doing just that.
Did You Know?: Kevin Martin is actually the sixth NBA player to come out of Western Carolina but he is the only one to play more than one season in the league.
Song of the Day: “Let the Bodies Hit the Floor” by Drowning Man. The Blazers had best bounce back from last night and absolutely destroy the Wolves. This song about matches my mood after last night. Enjoy:
Portland: Out-PG Mo Williams (Personal Reasons)
Minnesota: Out-C Nikola Pekovic (Ankle)
Re-Evaluating Minnesota: Breaking Out of NBA Purgatory
There is a widespread belief in the NBA that if you aren’t going to be really good, you had best be really bad so you can get a top pick. For this season, the Wolves are neither, not a playoff team (currently 5.5 games out of 8th) but far from the worst team in the league. The Wolves last made the playoffs in the 2003-04 season, which happens to be the only time the Wolves have ever won a playoff series as they made a run to the West finals before losing to the Lakers. If the Wolves want to make the playoff push everyone thought they would this year it needs to begin soon. Unlike the east, where close to .500 means a certain playoff trip, this is the western conference and teams like the Wolves go nowhere but ping pong ball watching if they aren’t at least a few games above the .500 mark at seasons end.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They make someone other than Love beat them. It sounds odd but the key to beating the Wolves is not stopping Love, he will do whatever he does, but keeping others from having good nights. If they do, they should win.
Minnesota wins if: They play a complete game. The Wolves have been known this year to have long lapse in concentration where they fall behind and then have to climb back into the game. They can’t afford this Saturday if they want to win.