Game On: Hornets @ Timberwolves
The Hornets travel to Minnesota to take on the one team in the West who are playing worse than they are. Will it be a win?
The Hornets can point to injuries to Jason Smith and Eric Gordon to apportion blame for their inability to stay in playoff contention early. The Wolves? They can point to large chunks of time missed by Brandon Roy, Chase Budinger, Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and Andrei Kirilenko. In other words, the Wolves have lost the equivalent of a team that could contend for a playoff spot by themselves. While Rubio is back and finally getting back into swing, Budinger and Kirilenko are only “close” to returning and Love and Roy are pretty much done for the year, with Love saying he may not return.
That’s crushing. This could have been a damn good team.
So tonight, the Hornets play the Wolves JV team – and there is still no way we can expect an easy win. Rubio has re-gained some of his acceleration, defensive ability and razzle-dazzle, Pekovic has wrecked the Hornets inside every time they’ve played him, and last year’s second pick of the draft, Derrick Williams, has shown signs of life in posting a PER of about 17 over his last five games.
The Hornets counter with a big center that can’t handle Pekovic, a point that can’t guard Rubio, and most of their firepower coming from two players at the Power Forward position and unlikely to play at the same time. Not the best matchup in the world.
Still, over their last ten, the Wolves have only gone 2-8. How should the Hornets attack the Wolves?
Keys to the Game
- Don’t Foul. The Wolves made their offensive living this year on the line, drawing free throws at the second highest rate in the league. But over their last ten, they’ve really struggled to get those free throws. Since they can’t shoot a lick, keeping them off the line will make this an easy game.
- Don’t turn the ball over. Rubio has been extremely good over the last ten at stripping guards for turnovers. Vasquez needs to protect the ball against Rubio’s pesky defense.
- Protect the defensive glass. The Wolves are top ten in offensive rebound rate for the season, but over their last ten, they are posting the second worst rate in the league. They are vulnerable on the glass right now – make them pay.
Enjoy the game!