Scouting Report: Wolves vs. 76ers

Alex Conover
Web Editorial Associate

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Wolves (19-31) vs Sixers (22-29) — 7:00 PM Target Center
Where to Watch: Fox Sports North
Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM

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After taking a week off of regular season games for the NBA All-Star Break, the Wolves return to action against the Philadelphia 76ers tonight. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO-AM.

Philadelphia Breakdown

In light of their likely most skilled player Andrew Bynum having missed the entire season so far with knee injuries, the young core of Philadelphia have stepped up. First-year NBA All-Star Jrue Holiday mans the point and is enjoying a breakout year, posting averages of 19.0 points and 8.9 assists per game. Thaddeus Young (14.9 PPG, 7.4 RPG) was having a nice season before going down with a strained hamstring, and Evan Turner (13.8 PPG) is beginning to live up to his high draft status.

One statistic worth noting is Philadelphia’s pedestrian offense, ranked 29th in the league. Averaging just 92.3 points per contest, the Sixers have lost starter Jason Richardson for the year and have never suited up Bynum, one of the league’s best big men. Even with the help of scorer-for-hire Nick Young (11.2 PPG), this is still an offense that can look like it’s stuck in the mud.

Last Time Out: December 4, 2012

For a team that has since struggled on the road, the Timberwolves easily beat the Sixers in their last meeting, a 105-88 win on Dec. 4.

Alexey Shved hit four 3-pointers in his 17-point night, and newly acquired forward Josh Howard added 16. The Wolves put seven players in double-digits scoring and shot 53 percent in a game where the lead changed just twice.

Evan Turner dropped 19 points for a Philly squad that dropped to a 10-8 record. Jason Richardson led the Sixers in rebounding with seven, and no player collected more than five for the home team. Howard and Kevin Love both logged 10 boards for the Wolves.

"You aren't always going to play like we did tonight,” J.J. Barea said. “Sometimes you have a bad game. ... I think we're doing a good job of staying aggressive, and it's working out for us."

Wolves Minute: Wednesday, Feb. 20

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Key Matchup: Jrue Holiday and Ricky Rubio

Holiday comes back to Target Center tonight, a venue where he first played as a scrappy high schooler from Campbell Hall H.S. for the annual Timberwolves Shootout. He has come a long way since then, emerging as a legitimate All-Star in 2012-13 and boosting his assist and scoring numbers considerably. Despite the loss of Bynum, he has found ways to spread the ball around, averaging 8.9 assists per game and ranking fourth league-wide. Can Holiday spark this offense to a needed road win? At this point, Philly sits on the outside of the playoff picture, seeded ninth in the East.

Blocking his passing lanes will be Ricky Rubio. He said at yesterday’s practice that he essentially feels 100 percent after his knee surgery, and his on-court play has reflected that. Rubio has put up double-doubles in three of his last four games, including his last game where he made 12-of-13 free throw attempts against Utah. It took him a while to adjust after his injury, but the latest string of games from Rubio makes it seem that the kid who captivated the NBA last season might be returning back to form.

Injury report presented by TSR Injury Law

The Wolves should have forward Andrei Kirilenko back after he missed several games with a quad injury prior to the All-Star Break. Guard J.J. Barea also was slowed by a left mid-foot sprain, and the break should have allowed him to recover a bit as we resume play. For the 76ers, small forward Thaddeus Young has missed four games with a hamstring injury and is not expected to play tonight. The Sixers have also missed Andrew Bynum all season (knee) and Jason Richardson is out for the year with a knee injury of his own.

 

Tonight's Probable Starters
PositionTimberwolves76ers
PGRicky RubioJrue Holiday
SGLuke RidnourNick Young
SFAndrei KirilenkoEvan Turner
PFDerrick WilliamsLavoy Allen
CNikola PekovicSpencer Hawes

 


For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter, and join the conversation at WolvesNation.com.