Nov 23, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Philadelphia 76ers small forward Evan Turner (12) drives to the basket during the first quarter against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Game 22 Preview: Philadelphia 76ers (7-15) @ Minnesota Timberwolves (10-11)

Those surprise Philadelphia 76ers who got off to such hot start — you know, they were 3-0 and 4-2 at one point with quality wins over the Miami Heat, Houston Rockets and Chicago Bulls. They have since cooled, winning just three of their last 16 games with a couple four-game losing streaks on either side of those wins. The Sixers are currently riding a three-game losing streak.

Sixers probable starting lineup:

PG Tony Wroten

SG Evan Turner

SF Hollis Thompson

PF Thaddeus Young

C Spencer Hawes

Evan Turner, the prospect Wolves fans drooled over in the Wesley Johnson draft — more on Syracuse hate in a few minutes — is shooting 17 shots a night this season in perpetual green-light mode. He’s shooting 46% from the field and 25% from three to get his 20 a night. He’ll have to carry the load with rookie Michael Carter-Williams still out with the threat of a gangrenous leg, knee thing.

Philly’s coach Brett Brown inserted rookie Hollis Thompson in the starting lineup in place of James Anderson where he’s averaged over 9 points, 6 rebounds on over 50% shooting (and over 40% from three) in over 33 minutes in those 5 starts.

Wolves probable starting lineup:

PG Ricky Rubio

SG Kevin Martin

SF Corey Brewer

PF Kevin Love

C Nikola Pekovic

Third in the league in rebounding, the Sixers have five different players averaging over 5 rebounds a game. The Wolves have but two, Pek and Love. A rookie point guard who averages almost 6 a night will help pad the rebounding stats (yes, that is a Love reference), but the Sixers give up the most points in the league at almost 110 a night. If Love’s shooting catches fire looks as good as it did last night in Detroit and Pek continues to smash — Hawes will appear to be a very different matchup compared to Andre Drummond — Minnesota could have it’s second win on the second night of a back-to-back this season.

I know I said I’d get to the Syracuse hate later, but I seriously don’t have it in me. The Wesley Johnson fiasco played out almost as poorly as the Jonny Flynn one. It’s nice Syracuse can produce an NBA player once every ten years, I just hope the Wolves don’t take a flyer on every other one they turn out. Carter-Williams has had an interesting rookie season, with huge numbers in strange categories (12 rebounds, nine steals) for a point guard, much less a rookie point guard.

But mostly, I’m happy an Eastern Conference team is doing something right. The Jrue Holiday trade for Nerlens Noel was fantastic and if MCW turns out to be what he appears to be, then they have a tanking season done the way it’s supposed to be. Combine those imaginary big three with the General Manager and Head Coach and as a Wolves fan, I have to admit, I’m a bit depressed because I think I might be done should this period of Wolves reconstruction go south — but hey! at least we’ve got Philly tonight.

Go Wolves.

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Tags: Evan Turner Game Preview Kevin Love Kevin Martin Michael Carter-williams Minnesota Timberwolves Nikola Pekovic Philadelphia 76ers Pregame Ricky Rubio

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