Scouting Report: Wolves vs. Pacers
Web Editorial Associate
Wolves (0-0) vs. Pacers (0-0) – 7 PM Fargodome (Fargo, N.D.)
Where to Watch: No TV
Where to Listen: No Radio
Two rising teams start their 2012-2013 preseason slate off tonight when the Wolves square off against the Indiana Pacers at the neutral Fargodome. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. in Fargo, N.D.
Minnesota comes off an exciting offseason where the front office went out and acquired former All-Stars in Brandon Roy and Andrei Kirilenko. Other pieces added include former Celtics center Greg Stiemsma, former Rockets forward Chase Budinger and Russian rookie Alexey Shved. This is after a 2011-2012 campaign that started out hot but quickly deflated after the loss of rookie point guard Ricky Rubio to injury; the team finished 26-40.
Now in his second year as head coach, Rick Adelman added key players to a roster that already had a talented core. Kevin Love continued to gain respect as one of the league's elite last season, finishing fourth in the NBA in points (26.0 PPG), second in rebounding (13.3 RPG) and first in double-doubles (48). Nikola Pekovic, a bruising center who made as much improvement in as anyone in the league, went from a seldom-used prospect in 2010 to averaging 13.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game last year.
After losing in the first round in 2011, the Indiana Pacers came back to the postseason in 2012 and held a 2-1 series lead against the eventual champion Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Although Miami came back and won the series, Indiana continued improving on a winning trend and will carry higher expectations into this season.
Indiana returns their top four leading scorers from last season, including their go-to option in Danny Granger (18.7 points per game). Also back is Roy Hibbert (12.8 PPG, 8.8 rebounds per game), a center who is starting to be mentioned as one of the league’s top young big men. Paul George (12.1 PPG) took a big leap from his rookie to his second year, and David West (12.8 PPG) rounds out the frontcourt. George Hill (9.6 PPG) and Tyler Hansbrough (9.3 PPG) should come off the bench first.
Last time out: April 16, 2012
The Indiana Pacers won their fifth consecutive game when they handled the Timberwolves 111-88 in Indianapolis. Things were grim for Minnesota from the very beginning, as Indiana built a 25-point lead in the first nine minutes.
David West led the way for the Pacers with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Helping the scoring efforts were Danny Granger (19) and Paul George (18), and Roy Hibbert dropped a double-double (12 points, 11 rebounds).
The Timberwolves, who were without Ricky Rubio (knee) and Kevin Love (concussion), relied on J.J. Barea, who paced the squad with 14 points and nine assists. Michael Beasley and Derrick Williams both scored 13 for Minnesota, which lost its tenth in a row.
Key matchup: J.J. Barea and George Hill
Both teams have question marks at point guard for different reasons. The Minnesota Timberwolves will start J.J. Barea in place of still-recovering Ricky Rubio, and Luke Ridnour and Malcolm Lee are both sidelined with their own minor injuries. Barea and Ridnour will compete for the starting point guard spot until Rubio returns, and a good showing in preseason would give Barea a good start.
George Hill will begin the season as the Pacers' new starting point guard, replacing Darren Collison who signed with Dallas. Hill, who also has experience at shooting guard, will have every chance to keep the starting job if he can perform; otherwise new acquisition D.J. Augustin can step up and play.
Wolves guard Luke Ridnour did not make the trip to Fargo tonight due to back spasms, but Adelman said there is a good chance he will be read to play the two weekend games against Indiana and Chicago on Friday and Saturday. Guard Malcolm Lee also did not make the trip with a left groin strain, and guard Ricky Rubio did not travel to Fargo while rehabbing from left knee surgery on his torn ACL and LCL.
According to the Indianapolis Star, Pacers coach Frank Vogel doesn't expect forward Danny Granger to play in the team's first few preseason games while nursing a left knee injury. Star beat writer Mike Wells reports Sam Young has been taking reps with the first team and could likely start in place of Granger tonight against the Wolves.
|Tonight's Projected Starters|
|PG||JJ Barea||George Hill|
|SG||Brandon Roy||Paul George|
|SF||Andrei Kirilenko||Sam Young|
|PF||Kevin Love||David West|
|C||Nikola Pekovic||Roy Hibbert|