The Timberwolves will be in Sacramento this evening taking on the Kings at Sleep Train Arena. The Kings are coming off of a 126-122 road loss to the Lakers last night.
This is a game that the Wolves should win, but obviously can’t afford to take lightly given their precarious position in the playoff race. Don’t forget that the Kings came into Minneapolis and defeated a rested Minnesota squad last month in what was probably the worst and most deflating loss of the season.
According to the Twitterverse, both Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin say that they will be playing this evening for the first time in quite some time, though it is not clear if they will be playing their usual minutes. It should lighten Dante Cunningham’s load considerably, which should only strengthen a bench unit that has been coming on nicely of late.
Keep an eye on Rick Adelman’s rotation this evening, with Shabazz Muhammad’s emergence coinciding with the return of Martin. Hopefully, the minutes will be siphoned from Brewer and possibly Budinger’s allotments, while allowing Muhammad an opportunity to repeat his performance from Tuesday evening.
In the long run, Budinger will give the Wolves their best wing minutes from an outside shooting perspective, making him the better match for the generally three-point-shooting challenged wings. But he’s still struggling to get his legs underneath him, and if Muhammad can provide some solidly productive and energetic minutes off the bench for the Wolves.
DeMarcus Cousins did not play last night in Los Angeles due to his one-game suspension that was handed down after his outburst towards the officials in a game earlier in the week. Also of note, Jimmer Fredette is no longer a King after he was bought-out earlier this week to allow him to sign with a contending team.
Of course, we’ll get to see old friend (?) Derrick Williams and the resurgent Rudy Gay playing for the Kings, so tonight’s game should certainly have a reasonable entertainment factor. Here’s hoping that the Wolves aren’t any worse for the wear after a long three day layover in Phoenix. Three days is a long time to be off, and especially not to be in their home city.
Despite only playing three games to this point on the trip. they’ve already been on the road for a full week, and won’t return home until after Monday night’s game in Denver. A win tonight and a tough win in Denver on Monday would amount to a nice 4-1 West Coast swing, and four straight home games against Eastern Conference opponents (with no back-to-backs) should help get the Wolves a few games above the .500 mark and hopefully back into the conversation in the race for the eighth playoff spot in the West.
Tonight’s game tips at 9:00 CT, and we’ll meet back here for a recap and thoughts on the game shortly after the conclusion of tonight’s contest.