Scouting Report: Wolves vs. Maccabi Bazan Haifa
Web Editorial Associate
Wolves (2-1) vs. Maccabi Bazan Haifa – 7 PM Target Center
Where to Watch: FS North
Where to Listen: No radio
Israeli basketball club Maccabi Bazan Haifa travels to Minnesota today to face off against a Timberwolves team that has won two of their first three preseason contests. When the two teams tip off at 7 p.m. tonight at Target Center, it will mark the first time in franchise history the Wolves will host an international team.
The Timberwolves will suit up fresh off a hard-fought win over Chicago, a game where the lead changed 18 times and both teams were missing several starters. Nikola Pekovic emerged as the team's impact player of the night, racking up 16 points and 17 rebounds. Rookie guard Alexey Shved came off the bench to add another 15 points in his Target Center debut, and Brandon Roy logged 13 of his own.
Minnesota is the second stop during Maccabi Bazan Haifa’s U.S. tour. The first was California, as the Golden State Warriors beat their guests Thursday night 108-100. Donta Smith led all scorers with 28 points, and James Thomas had a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Get To Know Maccabi Bazan Haifa
Maccabi Bazan Haifa is making an NBA preseason tour for the second time in three years. They came to the U.S. to face the Nets in 2010. The franchise was one of the original eight teams to play in the Israeli Premier League, founded in 1954. They’re owned by American businessman Jeffry Rosen, and the team has earned playoff appearances in three out of the past five seasons. They were the Israeli Super League runner-up in 2008-09.
Three members of Maccabi Bazan Haifa have previously played in the NBA, and six more have played ball collegiately in the United States. Small forward Cory Carr played for the Chicago Bulls in 1998-99, Smith played for the Atlanta Hawks from 2004-06 and center James Thomas played for the Trail Blazers, Hawks, 76ers and Bulls between from 2004-06. Carr (Texas Tech), Smith (Southeastern Illinois) and Thomas (Texas) all played collegiately, as did Pat Calathes (St. Joseph’s), Bryan Cohen (Bucknell) and Paul Stoll (Texas-Pan America). Haifa coach Brad Greenberg said Smith can be a difficult player to guard, and Stoll is a quick penetrator. But he said players like Carr and Ido Kozikaro off the bench need to make plays in order to stay with the Timberwolves tonight.
The Wolves have once before played an international team—in 2007, Minnesota traveled to Istanbul, Turkey, to face Efes Pilsen.
Key Matchup: James Thomas vs. Nikola Pekovic
Thomas, a forward with NBA and D-League experience, will have the tough task of containing Nikola Pekovic. Pekovic is coming off of a 17-rebound performance and has shown an ability to extend possessions with his offensive rebounding. Thomas is a 6-foot-8 forward out of the University of Texas who allowed eight rebounds to Golden State rookie Festus Ezeli on Thursday, and will have his hands full against the taller and highly physical Pekovic.
“James Thomas is a good rebounder,” Greenberg said. “Our chance of limiting a team [improves] if we can play defense and force a missed shot. If he’s not rebounding, we’ll give up second shots.”
Coach Rick Adelman said at Monday’s practice that everyone on the active roster should be healthy and available to play besides Luke Ridnour and Malcolm Lee. Ridnour is still experiencing some back stiffness, and Lee practiced today for the first time this year and is working on getting into game shape.
|Tonight's Projected Starters|
|Position||Timberwolves||Maccabi Bazan Haifa|
|PG||JJ Barea||Paul Stoll|
|SG||Brandon Roy||Cory Carr|
|SF||Andrei Kirilenko||Donta Smith|
|PF||Kevin Love||Pat Calathes|
|C||Nikola Pekovic||James Thomas|