The San Antonio Spurs will face the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight in Minnesota as San Antonio looks to continue their winning ways versus the Timberwolves.
San Antonio has won an impressive 16 games in a row against Minnesota including eight straight at the Target Center.
However, this isn’t the hapless Minnesota team from years past. This team sports one of the best big man in the NBA, Kevin Love, and features flashy rookie Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams along side Michael Beasley. This team has shown so far in this season they are a scrappy bunch.
To talk about tonight’s matchup, I turned to Bloguin’s own Jon Schweppe of The Timberwolves Blog. Your one-stop blog for all things T-Wolves.
In this Q&A Jon discusses the hot start by Rubio, his take on Minnesota’s other rookie, what is the missing piece for Minnesota and much more.
Jeff: Has Rubio been worth the wait or should Minnesota and NBA fans continue to take a wait-and-see approach?
Jon: I think most Minnesota fans are used to lowering their expectations — many of us doubted whether Ricky Rubio would ever play in Target Center. Now that he’s here, I can absolutely tell you he’s been worth the wait.
As you’ll clearly see tonight, Rubio is special, and this team is completely different with him on the court. He’s able to control the offense with incredible poise for a rookie. And while his “flair” has been discussed ad nauseum, his court vision and passing are unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Call me a homer, call me an optimist, but I think Rubio just may be the once-in-a-generation point guard we all hoped he would be.
In last night’s game against the Mavericks, he showed an ability we didn’t even know he had — the ability to take over a game with his scoring. One of the common talking points about Ricky is that he can’t shoot. Well, in our limited sample size (4 games) so far, Rubio is shooting 57% from the field and 67% from 3. I’m just sayin’.
This Minnesota team has been very competitive in the few games to start the season. What does this team still need to be considered one of the league’s top-tier teams?
I think we’re close to being a playoff team right now, but to contend? We absolutely need a solid perimeter scorer. We’re really lacking in talent on the wings. Michael Beasley (who may be out tonight with a lacerated index finger) isn’t efficient, and while he’s capable of creating his own shot, I don’t think he’s the long-term solution to our problems. Derrick Williams is an incredible talent, but his ability to play the 3 is still in question. Wesley Johnson is a shooter who can’t shoot. I’d love to see the Timberwolves trade a couple of their “potential” guys for a real shooting guard.
I do believe that Rubio + Love + an all-star level wing could absolutely be a championship contending trio in a couple years.
Spurs fans know all about J.J. Barea but what has he brought to the team?
I think he brings energy, poise, and confidence, all qualities lacking on last year’s Timberwolves squad. I liked J.J. Barea a lot when he played for Dallas, and I thought he was a decent signing in the off-season. That being said, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with his impact so far. For all the talk about Minnesota’s overabundance of point guards, we’re actually in a unique situation where both Ridnour and Barea can play the 2 with relative ease. In last night’s game against Dallas, Ridnour played crunch-time minutes late at the shooting guard spot, and I think that was a good call from Coach Adelman. If we can get even average production out of our shooting guard spot, I think we’re in good shape moving forward.
Rookie Derrick Williams has been under the shadow of Rubio so far. What are your impressions of Derrick so far?
He’s definitely raw, but he’s an explosive talent who should be able to get better under Adelman. I like seeing Derrick on the court, and I’m hoping that he’ll be able to eventually play the small forward position. He’s our team’s biggest question mark right now (and probably our biggest trade asset), and he certainly has a high ceiling as a player. I just hope he’s able to reach it on this squad.
The Spurs have won 16 games in a row versus Minnesota including eight in a row at the Target Center. What will the T-Wolves have to do tonight to snap this losing streak?
Our biggest problems so far have been turnovers and missed free throws. As long as the T-Wolves take care of the ball, take good shots, and convert at the free throw line, I think they have a good shot at getting their second win tonight. I promise you it’ll be an entertaining game, regardless.