Scouting Report: Wolves vs. Cavaliers
Web Editorial Associate
Wolves (8-9) vs. Cavaliers (4-15) - 7 PM Target Center
Where to Watch: Fox Sports North
Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM
View Timberwolves Game Notes
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After splitting a mini-road trip with a win in Philadelphia and a loss in Boston, the Wolves come back to Minneapolis to host the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight at Target Center. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO-AM.
Cleveland lost their third straight contest (and their seventh in eight games) when they dropped Wednesday’s matchup against the Chicago Bulls 95-85. Marco Belinelli led Chicago with 23 points, starting in place of the injured Rip Hamilton. The Cavaliers were forced to play without top scorers Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters, who were both sidelined with injuries. Donald Sloan scored a season-high 14 points to lead Cleveland, a franchise that has now lost 10 straight games against Chicago.
Minnesota’s road trip was evened out with another big effort from Kevin Garnett against his former team, who led his Celtics to a 104-94 victory Wednesday night. Garnett scored 18 points and 10 rebounds, improving a sterling record against his old team that has now reached 10-0 since his departure from Minneapolis. Rajon Rondo enjoyed 17 points and 11 assists in his first game back from suspension, and Jason Terry added 17 as well. Kevin Love led the Wolves with 19 points and 13 rebounds, but his squad was disadvantaged by missing 16 free throws.
Last Time Out: January 6, 2012
The Timberwolves fell to 2-5 after a 98-87 loss to the Cavaliers on Jan. 6, winning only two games in a five-game homestand.
Antawn Jamison scored 22 points and grabbed six rebounds for the Cavs, who advanced to 4-3 on the season. Eventual Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving logged 14 points and five assists, and Anderson Varejao had a double-double with 13 points and 12 boards.
Alongside Kevin Love’s 29 points and 14 rebounds, rookies Derrick Williams and Ricky Rubio scored 12 and 10 points, respectively. Minnesota as a whole only shot 39 percent from the field along a 20 percent rate from the perimeter. The loss was puzzling for a franchise that had just beaten Dallas and San Antonio.
"We are just so hit or miss right now," Minnesota coach Rick Adelman said. "I told them, 'I never said this was going to be easy,' and they are going to have to tough it out."
Key Matchup: Anderson Varejao and Kevin Love
Tonight promises to be a battle of the boards, as the two leading rebounders in the league will be squaring off. Anderson Varejao is averaging an incredible 15.4 rebounds per game, while counterpart Kevin Love is right behind him with 14.4 per contest; Love has not had less than 10 rebounds in a game since returning from injury, and Varejao has only three games where he has failed to reach double-digit board totals. Love’s season high is 24 rebounds against Sacramento on Nov. 23, while Varejao pulled down 23 in Cleveland’s season opener against Washington.
Both players have been models of consistency for franchises that have been limited in their backcourts because of injury; Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters are out for Cleveland while Ricky Rubio and Brandon Roy are still sidelined after knee procedures. This means both squads will be relying on substitute guards to catch their outlet passes; the good news for these reserve players is that there should be no shortage of fast break opportunities with the two best rebounders so far this season.
The Timberwolves have played the last four games without Andrei Kirilenko due to back spasms, but in his absence Josh Howard has started at small forward and has filled in admirably. He has scored in double figures his last two games and notched a double-double and a season-high 16 points in Philadelphia.
Cavs rookie Dion Waiters did not travel with the team due to a sprained ankle, according to CBSSports.com, while Irving remains out due to a fractured left index finger. He’s not scheduled to be back in the Cavs’ lineup until mid-December. Irving was averaging 22.0 points per game before his injury.
|Tonight's Probable Starters|
|PG||Luke Ridnour||Jeremy Pargo|
|SG||Malcolm Lee||Daniel Gibson|
|SF||Josh Howard||Alonzo Gee|
|PF||Kevin Love||Tristan Thompson|
|C||Nikola Pekovic||Anderson Varejao|