Scouting Report: Wolves vs. CSKA Moscow | Oct. 7, 2013

Scouting Report: Wolves vs. CSKA Moscow | Oct. 7, 2013

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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If there’s one player on this Timberwolves roster who knows Monday’s preseason-opening opponent well, it’s Alexey Shved. Shved joined CSKA Moscow as a teenager and played for that club for the majority of his professional career before joining the Timberwolves last season.

He'll a chance to get re-acquainted on Monday when the two teams square off at Target Center. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. on Fox Sports North.

CSKA Moscow enters this game with a 5-3 record over their first eight contests dating back to Sept. 12. This is one of two stops for them on the NBA circuit, as they’ll face Minnesota here in the Twin Cities before traveling to San Antonio on Thursday.

It’s not the first time this organization has taken the trip to the United States for exhibition NBA basketball. Shved was on the team in 2008 when the squad faced Orlando and Toronto, and he was on the team again when CSKA Moscow faced Miami, Oklahoma City and Cleveland in a 2010 trip. The squad beat Cleveland during that exhibition matchup, marking the first time a European team beat an NBA franchise on U.S. soil.

If there’s one thing Shved and fellow European teammate Ricky Rubio made clear this week, it’s that when a Euro squad gets a chance to face an NBA squad it definitely wants to make a lasting impression.

“Teams in Europe want to beat NBA teams,” Shved said. “They want to show everybody they can play, but NBA teams don’t want to lose, you know? And everybody plays hard for it.”

Monday’s game kicks off a big week for Minnesota. The Wolves will play Wednesday in Toronto, Thursday in Sioux Falls against Milwaukee and Saturday at home against the Raptors.

Last Time Out

This is the first-ever meeting between the Wolves and CSKA Moscow, so everything that takes place on Monday will be trail-blazing between these two clubs. The two teams certainly traveled different paths over recent weeks leading up to this preseason matchup. Wolves players returned to the Twin Cities throughout September and went through a grueling week-long camp in Mankato in preparation for their preseason slate to begin. CSKA Moscow has won two straight against Panathinaikos and Lokomotiv before making the trip to America this week.

CSKA Moscow is a team that by Shved’s account will try to control the tempo of the game by slowing down play and using the majority of the shot clock. They’ll test the waters of getting out in transition, but if the opportunity doesn’t present itself they’ll slow down the pace and work from the half court set. Most of their games are races to 75—their style limits high-scoring affairs. Over the eight games they’ve played, either CSKA Moscow or their opponents have scored more than 76 points just once.

What To Watch: Back Court Combinations

The key thing to watch in this preseason-opening matchup for the Wolves is how they play on both ends of the court in their back court. Their starters will be the newly-teamed up Ricky Rubio and Kevin Martin—a duo that should be able to create big offensive numbers this year for the Wolves. After this offseason’s roster moves and a relatively clean bill of health across the board, Rubio should have the shooters necessary to stretch the floor and create openings. Martin, who shot 42 percent from distance last year, is one of those players. Off the bench, J.J. Barea and Alexey Shved are two players who can be primary ball handlers if need be—although Shved will likely play off the ball more frequently. Combining the two, it creates a nice change of pace from the Rubio/Martin combo that tends to play more traditional point and 2-guard roles.

On CSKA Moscow’s end, this team has NBA talent on its roster that will provide some challenging matchups right off the bat for the Wolves. Swingman Sonny Weems played three seasons in the NBA for Denver and Toronto between 2008 and 2011. At 6-foot-6, he’s averaging 11.6 points per night and is shooting around 36 percent from 3-point range. Point guard Jeremy Pargo played parts of the last two NBA seasons with the Grizzlies, Cavaliers and 76ers. He shot 41.2 percent from beyond the arc during 12 games with Philadelphia last year, and earlier in the 2012-13 season he started 11 games for the Cavs while Kyrie Irving recovered from a broken finger. Pargo currently is averaging 7.6 points and 1.9 assists in eight starts for CSKA Moscow.

Injury Report

The Wolves will open up the preseason and possibly the regular season without forward Chase Budinger, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on his left knee. Dante Cunningham missed Sunday’s practice with flu-like symptoms, but there was no word on how that might affect Monday’s game.


Projected Starters

  Timberwolves CSKA Moscow
PG Ricky Rubio Jeremy Pargo
SG Kevin Martin Sonny Weems
SF Corey Brewer Vladamir Micov
PF Kevin Love Viktor Khryapa
C Nikola Pekovic Alexander "Sasha" Kaun


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