5 Things To Watch For In This Week's Homestand


Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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The Timberwolves return to Target Center on Friday for the start of their longest homestand of the season. Minnesota opens up a five-game home stint against Miami and will remain in Minneapolis through next Friday against Cleveland.

In between, the Wolves will be tested. Not only will Minnesota get last season’s Eastern Conference champions in their first contest, but they’ll see NBA champion Dallas on New Years Day, perennial power San Antonio on Monday and playoff contender Memphis on Wednesday.

How will the Wolves prepare? Here are the top things to know about the upcoming games at Target Center.

More than just the Big 3: The Miami Heat sport one of the more dominant offensive trios in the league in LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. The three haven’t slowed down to start the 2011-12 season, with James leading the way at 32.7 points per game. But Miami has shown early on they have role players who can step up and take pressure off the Big 3. Rookie Norris Cole buried 14 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter of Miami’s 115-107 win over Boston on Tuesday, and Mario Chalmers chipped in 15 points in Wednesday’s 96-95 win over Charlotte. All the while, the Heat have benefited from their opponents averaging 20.7 turnovers per game.

Familiarity with the champs: Newly acquired Wolves guard JJ Barea knows a thing or two about the Dallas Mavericks. Barea helped bring the Mavs’ first NBA title to the Lone Star State back in June over the Heat, and after spending five seasons with Dallas he’s more than familiar with their veteran team and how they operate. Barea played in 81 games for the Mavericks last year, racking up 11.5 points and 3.0 assists per game. The Mavs are 0-2 but have a pair of games before facing the Wolves. They’ll travel to Oklahoma City tonight before taking on the Raptors on Friday.

Still getting it done San Antonio began its stretch of championship-caliber play in 1998-99, and so far this season they’ve showed little signs of slowing down on both ends of the court. Anchored by Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, the Spurs are also getting production from Richard Jefferson and DeJuan Blair—the two combined for 39 points in Wednesday’s 105-90 win over the Clippers. Through two games this season, San Antonio is third in the league in points scored and fourth in the league in points against.

Having Minnesota’s number Memphis has won seven of the past eight meetings against the Wolves over the past two years, including both at Target Center last season. Forward Zach Randolph was a big part of the final three victories over Minnesota, averaging 23 points per game in each. The Grizzlies reached the playoffs for the first time since 2005-06 last year.

First showdown for top 2 picks: The Cavaliers were in disarray last season after LeBron James signed with Miami, but in doing so Cleveland landed the top pick in the NBA lottery and selected point guard Kyrie Irving. Irving showed why he was the top pick on Wednesday, scoring 14 points and adding seven assists in a 105-89 win over the Pistons. It will be the first time that Irving and this year’s No. 2 pick, Wolves forward Derrick Williams, will be on the same NBA court. Williams has dazzled with his high-flying dunks through the preseason and early in the regular season, and each will likely show off the talent their franchises will enjoy for years to come in this head-to-head matchup.




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