After a day of rest and a 104-89 victory over the Utah Jazz on Saturday evening, the San Antonio Spurs (3-1) return to action Monday night looking to earn their first road win of the season as they face Kevin Love, Michael Beasley, Spanish sensation Ricky Rubio, and the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Don’t let the Timberwolves’ 1-3 record fool you; this is one competitive team that could easily be 4-0 right now. The Timberwolves’ only three losses came at the hands of both the undefeated Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat, and the Milwaukee Bucks by an average of just three points. When you combine all of those teams’ records, they stand at 12-1.
The Timberwolves’ only win came Sunday as they used a powerful fourth quarter to defeat the defending champion Dallas Mavericks by 17 points, 99-82, in Minnesota.
Love is having an early all-star potential year as he’s averaging 26 points and 15 rebounds per game. Rookie Rubio is already making an impact with almost an average of 10 points and seven assists.
Timberwolves: With Love’s rebounding instinct’s around the rim, the Timberwolves rank as the number-two team in the league in rebounding at 49 boards per game. The Wolves also get to the line a lot as they’re tied for fifth in the league with 28.8 free throw attempts per game. The Wolves have a very potent offense as they’re ranked 10th in the league in scoring at 98.8 points per game.
Spurs: The Spurs’ run-and-gun offense is continuing its success from last season as the team is ranked seventh in the league in scoring with 99.8 points per game. Meanwhile, the defense is showing improvements as they’re ranked at eighth by holding their opponents to 91.5 points per game. Another area where the Spurs are second to tops in the league in is at limiting personal fouls as they only average 18.5 fouls per game. The offense is also flowing smoothly as they are the 10th ranked team in the league in assists with 22 assists per game.
Timberwolves: With all the new pieces added to the team plus having Beasley, the Timberwolves are ranked as the worst team in turnovers with an average of 19.5 turnovers per game. They’re also a team that has trouble contending shots at the rim as they are ranked last in the league with 2.3 blocks per game.
Investigating the Timberwolves’ offense
The Wolves are a jump shooting team as 66% of their shots against the Mavericks came from outside of the paint. They’re ranked sixth in the league with an average of 21.8 three pointers per game.
The team is run through Love (16 FGA), who scores mainly with outside shooting and put backs on offensive boards along with Beasley, (14 FGA) who is another jump shooter/slasher; while Barea (10 FGA) is the go-to man off of the bench. Spurs fans will be familiar with what Barea can provide off of the bench from all of the previous rounds when he was with the Mavericks.
Rubio comes in to run the show off of the bench as he’s looking to make plays with his passing ability by either finding players on the three-point line, running in the open court, or throwing alley-oops to some of the Wolves’ athletic wing men. But, the Spurs mustn’t lay off Rubio as he can hit from the outside as he’s shooting 57% from the field, and 66% from distance.
Keep in mind…
- The Timberwolves are playing on the second night of a back-to-back where Love played 38 minutes and Beasley played 31 minutes in the game on Sunday.
Projected Line-ups/Matchups, (starters are underlined)
Spurs, 68.9 combined efficiency: Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, James Anderson, T.J. Ford, Cory Joseph
Timberwolves, 56.3 combined efficiency: Luke Ridnour, Wesley Johnson, Ricky Rubio, Jose (J.J.) Barea, Wayne Ellington
Spurs, 48.1 combined efficiency: Richard Jefferson, Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green
Timberwolves, 28.6 combined efficiency: Michael Beasley, Anthony Tolliver, Derrick Williams
Spurs, 56.5 combined efficiency: Tim Duncan, DeJuan Blair, Tiago Splitter, Matt Bonner
Timberwolves, 51.5 combined efficiency: Kevin Love, Darko Milicic, Anthony Randolph, Nikola Pekovic
Spurs: Gary Neal (appendectomy), Timberwolves: Malcolm Lee (torn meniscus left knee), Brad Miller (inactive), Martell Webster (inactive)