By: Jeremy Hyman
The Wizards return home for a three game homestand beginning tonight when they host the Minnesota Timberwolves for the first time this season at Verizon Center (7:00 pm | TV: CSN+ | Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM). The Wizards are 5-3 in their last eight games.
Much like the Wizards had earlier this season, the Timberwolves have caught a case of the injury bug and are missing many of their key contributors. Kevin Love, the NBA's top rebounder (14.0 RPG), will miss approximately two more months with a fractured hand which is a big loss down low. On top of that, they have now lost their second leading scorer and rebounder as Nikola Pekovic is out with a thigh contusion. This means that Greg Stiemsma steps into the starting center role and will play alongside Derrick Williams on a thin Wolves' front line.
They join Brandon Roy, Alexey Shved, Chase Buddinger, and Malcom Lee on the injured list as the Wolves come limping in to Verizon Center. The Wolves did get Ricky Rubio back from injury last month and he is expected to make his fifth start of the season tonight. He is still struggling to find his rhythm, shooting just 25% from the field, and has been limited to just 22 minutes per game.
The Wizards are now playing their best basketball of the season, winning five of their last eight games. They went 2-3 on their west coast trip, but very easily could have come home with a winning record had a few breaks gone their way at the end of games. They are a more confident team now and over this eight game stretch are averaging a touch over 99 points per game.
Tonight is a great chance for the Wizards to grab a win against a depleted Timberwolves roster. The Wolves are shooting a league-worst 29% from three-point range which means the Wizards should be able to help off the perimeter and clog the lanes. If they put in the effort they showed out west, there is no reason they should not find themselves on the winning end when the final whistle sounds tonight.
The action kicks off at 7:00pm.
A.J. Price continues to do a solid job filling in as the starting point guard until John Wall is ready. Price has gone nine straight games without committing more than one turnover in a game, which is an impressive feat for a point guard. He is sure handed and steady on offense and is coming off a 10p/3a/3r game in Utah on Wednesday.
For the Wolves, much of their future is in the hands of their point guard Ricky Rubio. However, since returning from injury last month, he has really struggled to get going on offense, shooting just under 25% from the field and is 0-11 from 3-point range. While he is more of a distributor than a scorer, shooting that low of a percentage can be detrimental to an offense. He has dished out six assists in each of his last six games and he can be a magician with the ball. The Wizards will need to beware of all passing lanes when he has the ball in his hands.
In the below clip, A.J. Price talks to the media after Wednesday night's game in Utah.