Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio spearheaded the Minnesota Timberwolves victory over the reigning champion Dallas Mavericks on New Year’s Day. Love was brilliant, especially from three-point land (hitting 5 of 6 three’s in the game). Rubio continued to show that he is the real deal, playing the entire 4th quarter while shredding the Mavericks defence with crafty moves and waxy passing. Love and Rubio look very comfortable running the pick-n-roll, a very encouraging sign for the Timberwolves fans who looking for this kind of attack for a long time. Other notes: “My man” Anthony Tolliver came through and actually contributed. Hitting a couple of three’s down the stretch and playing his “always active” defense. Wes Johnson continued to flop. Going 1/7 from the floor and missing badly at times. If you can’t tribble on the wing in the NBA, you sure better be very dynamic in a couple of other areas. Such as spot up three-point shooter. Wes is far from a consistent shooter. His defense was supposed to be his strength. I’m starting to this it’s overrated. Michael Beasley hasn’t been able to get it going, and sometimes seems to show the mental weakness that he’s known for. Often looking uninterested on the bench. He also overracted to a cut on his finger that required 5 stiches. You would have thought his finger was ripped off by the way he reacted. I’m hoping for a trade to clear up room for Derrick Williams and to balance out the roster.
The Timberwolves play the Spurs tonight at 7pm in Target Center. Of all the teams the Timberwolves have faced this season, the Spurs might be the most difficult challenge. The Spurs have been the NBA’s best regular season team for a decade. They are getting old, but they sure play hard and they play the right way. Let’s take a look a couple of things to watch for:
- Rebound battle. The Spurs are one of the best rebounding and defensive teams in the NBA. If the Timberwolves can do well on the offense boards, they should have a good shot tonight. The Spurs great defense could force a lot of misses, if Love and company can clean up the glass they will be in a good spot to win.
- Rubio vs Parker. Both players like to penetrate the lane. Rubio usually looks to set up his teammates, while Parker likes to finish himself. Spain versus France is on the line too, which can lead to a lot of macho trash talking.
- Who can stop Manu Ginobili? Manu is the Spurs MVP these days, and he plays the Timberwolves’ weakest position: shooting guard. It will take a team effort to slow him down.
- Derrick Williams. He looked great on opening night, but hasn’t really got it going since other than the 4th quarter of the Miami Heat game. But that was one quarter. If Beasley can’t go tonight because of his finger, Williams could get some extra chances to show what he can do.
- Ginobili’s bald spot. It’s dwarfed into the size of a pancake. That’s all.
- Darko’s effort. He’s going up against the human bank-shot machine and future Hall-of-Famer Tim Duncan. Well, at least we know Darko won’t be playing in the fourth quarter.
- Rubio’s playing time. He certainly deserves to start at this point, but we know Adelman prefers to let the rookie ease into the starting role. Let’s pay attention to see if he gets into the game a little quicker. If Rubio has another good game against one of the league best teams still within his first week in the NBA, how long before the Rookie of the Year chat begins!