Scouting Report: Wolves (3-0) at Cavaliers (1-2) | Nov. 4, 2013

by Mark Remme
Web Editor

Scouting Report: Wolves (3-0) at Cavaliers (1-2) | Nov. 4, 2013


Timberwolves at Cavaliers | 6 PM — Quicken Loans Arena

Where to Watch: Fox Sports North

Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM

The Timberwolves are 3-0 for just the second time in franchise history. They’ll look to get to 4-0 tonight when they face the Cavaliers in Cleveland. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. CT on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO-AM.

But a fourth win won’t come easy. Not only are they facing an improved Cavs squad with an All-Star point guard and a throwback coach, but they’ll be facing Cleveland in their first back-to-back contests of the season

If they’re going to make it happen, a fast start on the road will be key. Minnesota has been doing just that in their first three games of the season.

The Wolves put up 40 first quarter points in their 109-100 win in New York on Sunday night, and they also jumped all over Orlando and Oklahoma City in the first halves of their two home wins last week. They’ve sported leads of at least 17 points in all three of their first three games, and that has helped Minnesota dig in and take control early. And even though the Wolves did see their lead slip down to single digits in New York and even lost it against Orlando, they showed the poise necessary to overcome those runs and pull out victories.

The result? Minnesota is one of four remaining unbeaten teams in the NBA—Houston Indiana and Philadelphia are the other three.

Wolves Minute: Nov. 4, 2013

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Meanwhile, the Cavs are 1-2 heading into tonight’s game, but they’re in position to take the next step in their development as a team this year. Cleveland welcomed back Mike Brown as coach this offseason, took power forward Anthony Bennett with the No. 1 overall pick and added Andrew Bynum, Earl Clark and sixth man threat Jarrett Jack. All of that helps complement All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, who continues to ascend in his own development as a must-see player in this league. His next step will be leading this team to the postseason in the East, and with the supporting cast improving this could be the year.

Last Meeting

Minnesota and Cleveland last faced off on Feb. 11 last season and Minnesota came away with a 100-92 win despite being without Kevin Love and Andrei Kirilenko.

Luke Ridnour (now with Bucks) led Minnesota with 21 points while shooting a very efficient 9-of-14 from the field. Nikola Pekovic had a double-double, scoring 16 points to go with 10 rebounds. He held Cleveland center Tyler Zeller scoreless. Ricky Rubio also got in the double-double action. The Spanish wonderboy finished with 13 points, 10 assists and five steals. Derrick Williams also scored 13. Mickael Gelable (not in league) and Alexey Shved each ad 11 points.

The Wolves shot 8-of-14 from the 3-point line, which was incredibly rare for them last season.

Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving led his squad with 20 points. Tristan Thompson finished with 16 and Dion Waiters had 12 while shooting a perfect 6-of-6 from the field. Former Wolves guard Wayne Ellington had 10 points off the bench.

The Wolves won both games against the Cavaliers last season.

This Week’s Results

The Wolves opened up Sunday night’s win in New York with a 40-point first quarter and ballooned that lead to 20-plus before sustaining a New York run in the fourth. The Kevins led the way, with Love dropping 34 points and adding 15 boards while Martin shot 5-of-5 from 3-point range and added 30 of his own. Ricky Rubio also added eight points and 10 assists—he’s averaging 10.3 assists per game through three contests this season.

The Wolves opened their season up with two home wins. On Wednesday, they defeated the Magic in overtime, 120-115. Two days later, they beat the Russell Westbrook-less Oklahoma City Thunder 100-81. Small forward Corey Brewer held Kevin Durant (a four-time NBA scoring champion) to just 14 points.

Cleveland is coming off of an 89-74 loss on the road against the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night.

The Cavalier offense wasn’t a pretty one. Only three players hit double digtis and the team shot 34.9 percent from the field and 20 percent form the free-throw line.

Former Syracuse guard Dion Waiters led his team with 17 points, but was just 7-of-21 from the field. Kyrie Irving had 15 points, while Anderson Varejao finished with 14.

Previous to that, Cleveland dropped a 90-84 road game at Charlotte on Friday. The Cavaliers did open their season on a winning note, though. Last Wednesday they beat the new-look Brooklyn Nets 98-94 at home.

What To Watch: Ricky Rubio vs. Kyrie Irving

NBA fans have to be giddy when thinking of Rubio and Irving. Both players are regarded as two up and coming stars and for good reason.

Irving is a natural scorer who has made his impact felt since being picked No. 1 overall in the 2011 draft. He averaged 23.3 points per game last season and really hit his stride in late February before being forced to miss most of March due to a sprained shoulder.

He played just one game against the Wolves last season and finished with 20 points and seven assists. This season he’s averaging 17.2 points, 7.9 assists and 5.2 rebounds per game, but is shooting 34 percent from the field.

Rubio also played in just one game last season vs. Cleveland while he was recovering from ACL surgery. In his matchup against Irving, Rubio scored 13 points while dishing out 10 assists. He also had five steals. This season, he’s averaging 3.7 steals per game.

Injury Report

 The Wolves will be without wing Chase Budinger, who is out while recovering from preseason left knee surgery. Center Ronny Turiaf is out indefinitely with a radial head fracture in his right elbow. Cleveland’s big man, Andrew Bynum (knee) is questionable for Monday’s game. The new Cavalier hasn’t played in more than a season after having surgery on both knees.

Probable Starters

  Timberwolves Cavaliers
PG Ricky Rubio Kyrie Irving
SG Kevin Martin Dion Waiters
SF Corey Brewer Tristan Thompson
PF Kevin Love Earl Clark
C Nikola Pekovic Anderson Varejao


For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter.