GameDay Blog: Wolves vs. Raptors - April 5, 2013

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Pregame 1:30 PM: Here we go, folks. We’ve been anticipating this night since the preseason here at Target Center—the chance for Rick Adelman to earn his 1,000th career win. We thought it would come a lot earlier, possibly in February, but injuries took their toll and as a result the Wolves fell off the pace not only for Adelman’s personal achievement but also for the team’s playoff hopes.

A win tonight would at least signify an important milestone for Adelman and this team, which has endured so well through the ups and downs and has been lauded by Adelman himself for persevering so well all year long. When Minnesota faces the Raptors tonight at Target Center, he’ll have his first chance to become only the eighth coach in NBA history to reach 1,000 wins.

But it won’t come easy.

The Raptors have owned the Timberwolves for much of their existence. Toronto owns a 12-21 overall record against Minnesota, and the Raptors have won 15 of their last 16 games against the Wolves since Minnesota swept them in 2003-04. The Wolves’ last win against them, did come in their last meeting at Target Center on Jan. 29, 2011.

Raptors coach Dwane Casey has been on both sides of this spectrum. He was an assistant and the head coach for Minnesota during this stretch of Raptors dominance, but he has also been Toronto’s head coach for the past two years. He said he can’t figure out exactly why the Raptors have had such success against Minnesota, but he hopes it continues tonight. As a side note, Casey spoke very highly of his time here in Minnesota. Still a very well-respected individual by members of the Wolves’ administration.

Toronto will try to replicate the success it had in its lone meeting of the season with Minnesota, a 105-86 victory at the Air Canada Centre. Minnesota has battled so many injuries this year, but Toronto is essentially catching the Wolves during their two healthiest points of the campaign. Casey said the key to trying to handle this Wolves’ squad is containing their offensive rebounding.

“They always crash the boards, the cutting and moving without the ball,” Casey said. “[Adelman’s] system allows cuts, freedom on the weak side, back doors, and he has a lot of good passers. You always have to be engaged in the play as far as seeing the cuts and weakside cuts, the back doors and all those things. That happens because of the spacing in the offense and they style of play that they play.”

He said having guys like Chase Budinger back only helps accentuate the problem of defending the Wolves, because when you have capable shooters the defense needs to honor it. That opens up more room in the middle for guys like Nikola Pekovic to roam and perimeter players to penetrate.

Casey also said Adelman is an innovator, someone who has impacted the game so much during his career. He said a lot of offensive sets the Raptors use are a product of Adelman’s vision and innovation. Adelman, like George Karl and Rick Carlisle, aren’t afraid to push the limits and try new things, Casey said.

“[He was] kind of one of the first to start the elbow stuff in the ‘90s. He’s had an impact on the game and he’s a man of few words,” Casey said. “I don’t know him well, never had a chance to talk to him over the years, but the impact he’s had on the NBA is something that, I hope he stays around. I hope he doesn’t retire, because he’s very good for the game.”

Casey said 1,000 wins is an incredible accomplishment, but…

“I hope he stays [at 999] for one more night,” Casey said, smiling.

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