Scouting Report: Wolves at Pacers
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Wolves (22-39) at Pacers (39-24) — 6:00 PM Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Where to Watch: Fox Sports North
Where To Listen: 830 WCCO-AM
View Timberwolves Game Notes
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The Timberwolves denied the San Antonio Spurs an opportunity to reach 50 wins for the 14th straight season last night at Target Center. They’ll try to play spoiler for a Pacers team looking for win No. 40 tonight in Indianapolis. The Pacers host the Wolves tonight at 6 p.m. at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO-AM.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more physical team than the Indiana Pacers, and it’s a big reason why they’ve maintained an excellent record while missing one of their top scorers all season long. Indiana is giving up just 89.3 points per game this season, which is the second best total in the league, and they’re making that happen thanks to their bruising play.
It starts with 7-foot-2, 280-pound Roy Hibbert, who is averaging 10.4 points and 7.9 board per night. Two-time All-Star David West is shooting 49.2 percent from the field and is scoring 17.5 points per game, eclipsed only by Paul George’s 17.6 points per night. George just made his first career All-Star Game this winter and has been an impressive player—he also leads the team by hitting 38.5 percent of his shots from beyond the arc.
Defensively, Indiana is one of the most efficient teams in the league. They’re leading the NBA by allowing opponents to hit just 41 percent of their field goal attempts. They’re also leading the NBA by allowing opponents just 32.2 percent shooting from 3-point range. That’s key, as Minnesota is shooing just 29.9 percent this year but is coming off a game in which they shot 12-of-20 from the field. The Wolves are hoping to build on that effort. Indiana is currently third in the Eastern Conference but are essentially tied with New York for the No. 2 seed—they are one game back in the loss column. A big reason for that is Indiana 25-7 at home this year compared to 14-17 on the road and is scoring 7.5 points per game more at Bankers Life Fieldhouse than on the road.
Last Time Out: Nov. 9, 2012
For Wolves fans, this might seem like an awfully long time ago considering all the injuries the team has endured since, this epic finish did, in fact, happen just four months ago. The last time these two teams met, forward Chase Budinger made a backdoor cut and took a pass for Andrei Kirilenko in the game’s final seconds to score the game-winning basket in a 96-94 win. Target Center erupted as the Wolves improved to 4-1, and it appeared the team just might have a streak of good fortune in this NBA season. But the Wolves did lose starting shooting guard Brandon Roy in that game, and the next night Budinger suffered a lateral meniscus tear in Chicago. Budinger had 18 points off the bench on 4-of-6 shooting, while Derrick Williams had 15 and Nikola Pekovic had 13. For the Pacers, George Hill had 29 points, David West had 19 and Paul George had 11.
Wolves guard Ricky Rubio is coming off his first career triple-double last night against the Spurs at Target Center. He racked up 21 points, 12 assists and 13 rebounds on a memorable night in his young career. But this wasn’t a one-night thing. It’s been building over the past few weeks, and Rubio continues to show that he not only has regained his full facilitating capacity in the half court and on the fast break, but he’s beginning to hit his shots much more efficiently and has put together a stretch of 10 games in which he picked up more steals than any player in a decade. He provides energy to this team that is intangible, and fellow teammates like J.J. Barea pointed that out after last night’s game. “He does it,” Barea said. “He does it every night.”
But Rubio will have his hands full with George Hill tonight in Indianapolis. Hill is a crafty point guard who is averaging 14.5 points per game, shooting 37.5 percent from 3-point range and also dishes out 4.8 assists per night. Hill scored 29 points on 11-of-29 shooting the last time these two teams met, proving he can get the job done on the offensive end against the Wolves. His point production is down through five games this month by nearly four points a night, but three of those games this month have been against the Heat, Bulls and Celtics. Can Hill break out against the Wolves, or will Rubio and his defensive acumen help shut him down while providing an offensive encore to his triple-double he produced fewer than 24 hours ago?
Injury Report presented by TSR Injury Law
The Wolves head to Indiana having played the last seven games without Andrei Kirilenko (left calf strain) and the last six games without Nikola Pekovic (abdominal strain). They will both likely be out against the Pacers, and Minnesota hopes they will have a combination of the two back on Friday at Houston. The two are missing time in addition to Kevin Love (broken hand), Chase Budinger (knee), Brandon Roy (knee) and Malcolm Lee (knee). Budinger was cleared for full contact practice this week and is hoping to make his debut after a few team practices, and Love should know more about his timetable after meeting with his hand specialist this week. For the Pacers, Danny Granger has missed all but five games this season, including the last three games, with left knee soreness.
|Tonight's Probable Starters|
|PG||Ricky Rubio||George Hill|
|SG||Luke Ridnour||Lance Stephenson|
|SF||Mickael Gelabale||Paul George|
|PF||Derrick Williams||David West|
|C||Greg Stiemsma||Roy Hibbert|