Practice Report: Monday, Oct. 15, 2012
Web Editorial Associate
The Timberwolves were back in the LifeTime Fitness Training Center today, preparing for an unconventional opponent from across the world.
Maccabi Haifa, an Israeli basketball club, comes to the Target Center on Tuesday night. When the two teams square off at 7 p.m., it will be a contest against an opponent with whom coach Rick Adelman is admittedly unfamiliar.
“I don’t know anything about them," Adelman said after practice on Monday. "[Assistant coach] Bill Bayno’s watched film on them, but they played Golden State pretty tough four days ago. It was a close game all the way. It looks like they’ve got some players that can play. We’ve watched them play, we have tape on them.”
Center Nikola Pekovic was familiar with another team from the Israeli Basketball League, Maccabi Tel Aviv, who he had played against before his Timberwolves career.
Still, the experience against an unfamiliar opponent can have its benefits. Pekovic said there is value in playing different opponents, especially during preseason.
“I like it,” Pekovic added. “Why not? It’s just as important. We need to work more. It’s important just to get some games. It’s good to play against different teams and compare yourself.”
Maccabi Haifa lost 108-100 to Golden State on October 11, and Donta Smith led the foreign club with 28 points. Prior to their game against Minnesota, the team will make appearances at area temples and the University of Minnesota, answering questions about life as a professional player in Israel.
Early Fatigue Going Away?
Fans were surprised to see that Kevin Love and Andrei Kirilenko did not play against the Bulls Saturday night. According to Adelman, everyone is available to play on Tuesday with possibly the exception of Malcolm Lee, who made it through all of practice on Monday but is still recovering from a left groin injury suffered during training camp.
“Kevin seemed fine today,” Adelman said. “We had everyone today. Malcolm was out here and went the whole way. I think it’s just a matter of letting him get back into the game. He didn’t play a lot in practice, but he got through everything.”
He elaborated further on Luke Ridnour’s back condition, something that has bothered him since the beginning of training camp.
“He has got to get his timing back,” Adelman said. “Luke did everything today, but I think he was a little stiff from the other night. It’s a little problem where he stiffens up, and maybe the first few practices might have been too much. But he is getting better every day.”
Kirilenko, who expects to play against Maccabi Haifa, is also optimistic about the team’s conditioning getting better.
“Everyone is trying to work hard to get into game shape,” Kirilenko said. “Don’t rush it, but at the same time don’t slow down. We’ve got tactical things we need to do, different sets, and we need to get used to each other. There are a lot of new guys, myself included.”
- Adelman mentioned he was familiar with Haifa’s head coach, Brad Greenberg, who spent time as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers' front office while Adelman was coaching there.
- Kirilenko on learning the Timberwolves’ offense: “It is fun. It’s a little complicated, but when guys pick it up, it becomes fun. There is a lot of unselfish basketball, a lot of good passes.”
- Although media keeps suggesting that Alexey Shved might play point guard at some point, Kirilenko insisted today that he sees the rookie as more of a shooting guard—or at the very most, a combo guard. “He was playing for the national team as a playmaker; he knows how to play. Sometimes coach put him at point guard and tried to get a feel for the offense, but I still think he’s not a point. He’s a combo guard in my opinion.”