After throwing up 40 points in the first quarter of their 109-100 win over the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden Sunday night, the Wolves are averaging a league-best 37.3 points on 55% shooting (including 50% — 8 of 16 — from three) in the opening frame.
The win inspired this quote from Kevin Martin:”This is such a fun team to play on. Nobody is trying to lead the league in scoring here. Everybody has the big picture of getting to the playoffs.” Is it his old teammate, Kevin Durant, that refers to? Is it Carmelo Anthony? Is it just a general explanation of the egalitarian offense the Wolves have humming right now?
Cleveland probable starting lineup:
PG Kyrie Irving
SG Dion Waiters
SF Earl Clark
PF Tristan Thompson
C Anderson Varejao
True to form, newly re-installed Cavs coach, Mike Brown’s presence in replacing Byron Scott has been felt on both the offensive and defensive ends. His Cavs offense is ranked dead-last in the league in points per game (85.3 per contest) and 2nd-best in points allowed (91 per).
As much as I would like to blame Brown for Irving’s down production — 5 points a game lower, compared to last year — his shooting is also ten percent lower than his career average (34% to 46%). Irving also had an x-ray on his shoulder before Saturday’s loss to the Pacers, so the “injury prone” tag may be trending on him again.
Minnesota’s probable starting lineup:
PG Ricky Rubio
SG Kevin Martin
SF Corey Brewer
PF Kevin Love
C Nikola Pekovic
And on the fourth game, Corey rested. Or something. Earl Clark is not Durant or Anthony. Brew got both their goats the last two games, and tonight he and Pek, Love, Rubio and Martin will get some well-deserved rest, as Adelman’s been playing to win, riding his starters hard.
Jarrett Jack left Wednesday’s opponent, the Golden State Warriors, to play the same role of third guard for the Cavs. The ability to use Irving as a shooting guard should benefit the Cavs in the long term once his shooting percentage bounces back to normal.
Tristan Thompson is leading the Cavs in minutes and could be a load for Love. Varejao is always a blur of activity. The point guard and front court match ups could push the decisive performances to the wings. Should Love and Martin’s hot shooting continue, the starters could get some well-deserved rest.