Scouting Report: Wolves vs. Cavaliers





Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Wolves (2-4) vs. Cavaliers (3-3) 7 PM - Target Center
Where to Watch: FS North
Where to Listen: 830 AM WCCO

*Get your questions on the radio airwaves during halftime! Just tweet questions to @WolvesRadio and listen to the halftime show hosted by John Focke on WCCO 830 AM.

The last time Timberwolves forward Derrick Williams and Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving faced each other on a basketball court, the duo put together a display that skyrocketed themselves to the top of every guru’s NBA Draft board.

Tonight at Target Center, the two will once again share the floor. Those on hand for the 7 p.m. tipoff will get to see two of college basketball’s most coveted talents from a season ago.

The pair shined for their respective teams in a Sweet 16 matchup last March, and on that evening Williams and his University of Arizona squad bested Irving’s Duke club 93-77 in the NCAA tournament. Williams’ 32 points and 13 rebounds helped the Wildcats upset the No. 1 seed and defending champion Blue Devils.

Not to be outdone, Irving finished with 28 points and three assists, and his flashy backcourt play prompted the Cleveland Cavaliers to draft him No. 1 overall—one spot ahead of Williams—in June’s Draft.

Which begs the question: Do the Wolves think Williams was a worthy No. 1 pick?

“Did I think Derrick should be the No. 1 pick? Probably so,” teammate Kevin Love said. “But I’m glad he’s on our team.”

Irving is making his presence felt early on this season in Cleveland. He’s averaging 14.2 points per game, with a season-high 20 twice against Charlotte and Indiana, and he’s churning out 5.3 assists per contest.

Williams is playing his role on a Wolves squad that is conserving legs and sharing minutes. He’s scoring 7.2 points per contest and adding 4.2 rebounds, all the while finding ways to energize the crowd with his electric dunks and crafty 3-pointers.

Key matchup: Antawn Jamison vs. Michael Beasley

The power forward position could be a fun matchup to watch tonight, with Antawn Jamison leading the Cavs with 17.2 points per game and Michael Beasley perhaps the Wolves player most gifted at creating his own shot. Beasley is averaging 13.5 points per contest, second only to Kevin Love’s 25.7, and with 11 points and 10 rebounds on Wednesday he’s coming off his first double-double of the season.

Loving his performance

Kevin Love is tearing through his opponents this season to the tune of 25.7 points and 15.0 rebounds per game. He’s the first player since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1975 to have at least 20 points and 12 rebounds in his first six games of the season, and he’s averaging more offensive rebounds (6.0) than all but one other Wolves player is averaging in total rebounds per game this year (Beasley has 6.2).

Free throws are the key

The Timberwolves are sitting at 2-4 this season, with all four losses coming by a combined 13 points. In those four games, the Wolves have missed 38 free throws (77-of-115) and are shooting 67 percent from the line.

That’s a killer statistic for a team hoping to pull out close games in the fourth quarter this season.

“We missed a lot of free throws, a lot of easy, easy baskets that we can do if we want to win,” guard Ricky Rubio said after Wednesday’s 90-86 loss to Memphis. “We had the victory and we let it go.”

Minnesota got a first-hand glimpse of what free throws can do for a team in that game against the Grizzlies, as Memphis nailed all eight of its shots from the charity stripe in the final 22 seconds to ice the four-point win.

Cleveland as a team is shooting 68.8 percent from the free-throw line this season.

You can become a part of the Wolves Radio Network by Howling at the Wolves during halftime! Just tweet questions to @WolvesRadio or @JWFocke and Studio Host John Focke and Coach Steve Brown will answer them on 830 WCCO and the Wolves Radio Network.
For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter.