Team Records: Minnesota (4-10) at Portland (12-4)
Game Info: 6 p.m., TV on CSNNW, Radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: Portland -13
Refs: Michael Smith, Scott Twardoski, James Williams
The Skinny: #1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins makes his first NBA visit to Portland Sunday as the Blazers look to start a new winning streak. Minnesota is coming off a narrow win Friday night against the hapless Lakers but has lost eight of ten overall. Minnesota has lost the last five matchups between the two teams in Portland.
Last Season: The Blazers won the season series 3-1 Portland has won 24 of the last 27 overall against the Wolves.
Projected Timberwolves Lineup:
PF: Thaddeus Young (Georgia Tech, 8th Season) – 13.9 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.8 APG
SF: Andrew Wiggins (Kansas, Rookie) – 11.9 PPG, 3.9 RPG, .1.1 APG
C: Gorgui Deng (Louisville, 2nd season) – 7.8 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 1.6 APG
SG: Corey Brewer (Florida, 8th Season) – 11.1 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 2.4 APG
PG: Mo Williams (Alabama, 12th season) – 9.8 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 6.3 APG
Player to Watch: Andrew Wiggins (pictured at right) – Wiggins was one of the most highly anticipated prospects in the recent future and for good reason. Wiggins has tons of potential, and although he fell short of expectations in his only year in Kansas, that hasn’t changed his prospects. Wiggins has excellent athleticism and is great in the open court. He also has plenty of defensive talent and has the potential to be an elite wing defender. Where he struggles is his shaky handle and with a jumper that is okay, at best. Still, give the kid time to develop and he could be a special one, at least that’s what Minnesota has to be hoping.
Did You Know?: Minnesota currently has the NBA’s longest active postseason drought, having not appeared in the playoffs since the 2004 season.
Song of the Day: “Girl from the North Country” by Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash. An appropriate song for a team from Minnesota. Enjoy:
Portland: Out – PG CJ McCollum (Finger)
Minnesota: Out-SG Kevin Martin (Wrist), C Nikola Pekovic (Wrist), PG Ricky Rubio (Ankle), C Ronny Turiaf (Hip)
Well, its another rebuilding project for the NBA’s seemingly perennial bottom feeders. Now that the Clippers are good, the Wolves are arguably the least competent franchise in the West (except maybe the Kings), and that is even after getting rid of GM David Kahn. The Wolves are bad when they are full strength, which they are not right now, on both ends of the court. On offense they mainly succeed, when they do, by making lots of 3s, playing decent enough defense and hoping the other team plays sloppy. They are actually merely below average on offense, ranked 22nd in offensive efficiency, passing the ball well, turning it over some but not too much and doing an excellent job on the offensive glass. On defense, they are a tire fire, allowing opponents to shoot 51% from the field and 42% from 3. The Wolves are dead last in points in the paint allowed and have only held opponents under 100 points three times this year. There is a reason this team has failed to beat anyone above .500 and that is that they are not very good.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They are focused. This is a bad Minnesota team and the Blazers are at home. Play with focus and Portland should run away with it.
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 first matchup of the year between these division rivals.