Wolves vs. Nets Gameday

Jonah Ballow
Wolves Editor/Writer

Email / Twitter

Wolves vs. Nets 7:00 PM - Target Center
Where to Listen: 1130 KFAN AM

*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 1130 AM.

Notable Injuries:
* Anthony Tolliver (knee) - OUT

* Jordan Farmar (knee) - DAY-TO-DAY
* Anthony Morrow (hamstring - OUT
* Damion James (broken right foot) - OUT
* Troy Murphy (viral infection) - OUT

Scouting Report:
Big Picture
Following a disastrous 12-70 2009-10 season, the Nets built the infrastructure to recreate a winning atmosphere and return to the playoffs in the near future. Billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov possesses the cash while first year New Jersey coach Avery Johnson has solid experience on the sidelines when he led Dallas to the Finals four years ago. One of the main objectives for the Nets was to free enough cap space and make a run at one of the elite free agents this offseason. New Jersey could not land LeBron, Wade, or Stoudemire but the team is now facing a new opportunity to snag Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony. Whether it’s posturing or substantial movement towards a deal, the latest reports have Denver demanding a ton of draft picks and young talent, including Derick Favors in exchange for Anthony. With their current roster, the Nets are three wins away from matching last year’s win total but are currently trying to snap a four-game slide.

Last Time Out
Prior to the ball dropping for the New Year, the Nets suffered a 90-81 loss in Chicago. In the low scoring contest, New Jersey only shot 39 percent from the floor and 23.1 percent behind the arc.

Minnesota could not capitalize on a halftime lead and fell 119-113 on Wednesday night due to a 3-point barrage from Nuggets guard Chauncey Billups. The loss dropped the Wolves to 8-25 on the season.

The Numbers Game
Wolves rookie Wes Johnson is shooting 56 percent (14-for-25) from 3-point range over the last five games.

Match-up to Watch
Darko Milicic vs. Brook Lopez
The Nets success level should not overshadow Brook Lopez and his immense talent at the center position. One of the true 7-footers left in the game, Lopez is averaging a career-best 19.3 points per game. The one issue with Lopez is the glaring drop in rebounding numbers as the third-year big man only grabs 6.2 boards each contest. Tonight, Minnesota will need a hobbling Darko Milicic to contain Lopez in the paint and limit his production on the blocks. Milicic only played 14 minutes on Wednesday night after a left hip injury forced him to the Wolves locker room. The couple days of rest in between games might have allowed ample recovery time for Minnesota’s top defensive player. His health and the Wolves frontline defense will certainly be two key areas to watch tonight.

What to Look For
Two similar teams hit the floor tonight at the Target Center. Both squads feature several up-and-coming young players with bright futures. The lack of experience is one of the main reasons for the Nets and Wolves’ struggles on most nights while they attempt to gain consistency throughout the course of a rigorous season. The major difference between these teams is the offensive output as New Jersey only posts 92.4 points per game, ranking 29th in the league. On the opposite side, Minnesota is a supremely talented offensive unit this year by putting up an average of 103 points, No. 8 among NBA teams. However, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, the Wolves must hold the Nets below the century mark and dominate the glass tonight in order to secure a win. Five of the eight victories for Minnesota are a result of beating teams with a record below the .500 mark and as New Jersey faces a back-to-back situation, this game is absolutely in the winnable category.
For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Jonah on Twitter.