Team Records: Portland (41-19) at Minnesota (13-47)
Game Info: 5 p.m., TV on CSNNW, Radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: Portland -4
Refs: Zach Zarba, Sean Corbin, Eric Dalen
The Skinny: The Blazers travel to Minnesota Saturday looking to keep things in the right direction against the Wolves despite Wesley’s devastating injury. The Wolves won their first game following KG’s return but then promptly lost the next four (although they were only blown out once). Minnesota sports a western-conference worst point differential of -7.9, ahead of only Philly and the Knicks league-wide.
Last Time They Met: The Blazers played perhaps their worst game of the year as they never really got going and fell to a shorthanded Wolves team 90-82. Wiggins secured his first career double double in Minnesota’s victory.
Projected Timberwolves Lineup:
PF: Kevin Garnett (Farragut Academy (HS), 20th Season) – 6.9 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 1.6 APG
SF: Andrew Wiggins (Kansas, Rookie) – 15.9 PPG, 4.3 RPG, .1.9 APG
C: Nikola Pekovic (Montenegro, 5th season) – 13 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 9 APG
SG: Kevin Martin (Western Carolina, 11th Season) – 20 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 2.1 APG
PG: Ricky Rubio (Spain, 4th Season) – 11 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 8.7 APG
Player to Watch: Kevin Garnett (pictured at right) – Yes your eyes do not deceive you, that is a picture of Kevin Garnett way back in his rookie year many years ago. His career has lasted so long it’s almost like he’s always been there. There are college freshmen who have never lived in a world in which Kevin Garnett was not playing in the NBA. Yet, although he isn’t the player he once was, he is still putting out all the effort he possibly can. He may not be able to do it for as well, or as long as he once did but he’ll do what he can. The Hall of Fame awaits when KG finally decides to call it a career.
Did You Know?: Only two players on the Wolves roster were on the team before 2012, Rubio and Pekovic.
Song of the Day: “The Hanging Tree” from Mockingjay Part 1. In honor of “Bow3Arrow” if we burn, you burn with us. Enjoy:
Portland: Out – SG Wesley Matthews (Achilles)
Minnesota: Out-SF Shabazz Muhammad (Finger), PF Anthony Bennett (Ankle), SG Robbie Hummel (Hand)
Re-Evaluating Minnesota: Finishing Right
Its another lost season for the Wolves but this one has a nice finish to it. For the first Wolves superstar, Kevin Garnett, is coming back to the team that originally drafted him while the next Wolves star, Andrew Wiggins, appears poised to take off. It may be yet another season hoping some lottery balls bounce their way in May but its not all bad for at least Wolves fans have a fun bad team, and not a depressingly awful bad one. They may not be good anytime soon but at least they’re not as hopelessly awful as they have been.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They are focused. This is a better Wolves team than we faced the first two times out. Still, if the Blazers are focused, they should win.
Minnesota wins if: They win the turnover battle decisively. The Blazers should be able to pick Minnesota apart if they play clean ball but if the Wolves can make Portland play sloppy, they stand a chance of winning the third matchup of the year between these division rivals.