Shootaround Access: Wolves vs. Cavaliers | Nov. 13, 2013

Shootaround Access: Wolves vs. Cavaliers

Wolves guard Ricky Rubio challenges Cavs guard Kyrie Irving during a game in Cleveland. The Wolves and Cavs square off tonight at Target Center. (NBAE/Getty Images)

Cavs Looking To Sweep Season Series With Wolves

The Timberwolves returned from L.A. yesterday afternoon and enjoyed the night off plus a morning off from shootaround responsibilities as they prepare for the Cavaliers tonight. The Cavs, on the other hand, not so much. Cleveland reportedly has been known for long shootarounds this year under coach Mike Brown, and their workout this morning went about 45 minutes longer than scheduled.

No surprise there, according to Kyrie Irving.

“Extra long shootaround? I’m pretty sure we’ve had longer,” Irving said. “It’s all good. I mean, we went over a few extra things. You know, extra film work, and you know, just trying to get better.”

The Cavs got the best of Minnesota last Monday, winning 93-92 despite Minnesota’s furious 17-2 run to end the game and had a chance on the final possession to erase a once-23-point deficit. This time around, they’ll get the Wolves inside Target Center where Minnesota sports a 3-1 record. They also get the Wolves coming off another tough loss in Los Angeles, falling to the Clippers after a near 11-point fourth quarter comeback came a tip-in short of overtime with time expiring. And this time, the Cavaliers will be without big man Andrew Bynum who is not playing in the next two games for personal reasons.

All that boils down to an intriguing matchup at Target Center, where the Wolves will try to even up this season series with Cleveland at 1-1 while improving to 6-3 on the year. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO-AM.

No surprise here, but Kevin Martin and Kevin Love led the way in their last meeting with the Cavs. Martin had 23 points and hit 5-of-8 from distance, and Love put up 17 points and 13 boards while tallying five assists. Those two have been the catalysts for this Wolves’ teams success early on, and it stems from their ability to work off each other, benefit from motion within the offense and some slick ball movement.

Right now, Love is averaging 26.4 points, 15.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists on the season. Martin is shooting 55.8 percent from 3 this year. The two Wolves standouts are second and sixth, respectively, among the NBA’s points per game leaders.

The Cavs will try to match that tonight with the dynamic scoring and playmaking of Kyrie Irving. Irving is the player who makes this Cleveland team go. He’s averaging 19.4 points and 7.5 assists per game, and even with his field goal percentage down this year he is still a versatile impact player.

Cleveland knows it, and they’re not worried about Irving’s shot even though the 45.3-percent career shooter is scoring at a 37.7 percent clip this year.

Cavs coach Mike Brown said there’s a lot being thrown at Irving, who runs the offense and is learning the new schemes under Brown’s system. Not only that, Brown said Irving is exerting more energy defensively than in years past.

“That takes a toll on your body, and there’s an adjustment period you have to go through,” Brown said. “And so I mean he can shoot the ball. We see him shoot the ball in practice, all that other stuff, and that stuff in my opinion will go up.”

In town facing the Wolves, Irving said it’s important to take away a few lessons the team learned in their narrow win against Minnesota last week. For one, it’s important to make sure the Wolves don’t disrupt the Cavs’ schemes—especially late in the game.

“You know, always remembering they picked up their defensive pressure,” Irving said. “You know, did a few things that made us uncomfortable, especially at the end of the game. As teammates you know we just need to bring each other up, especially in the fourth quarter. We’ve just got to create that separation.”

Brown said you have to give Minnesota credit for that comeback; they never quit. That’s a theme the Wolves are showing early on this season.

“They just kept fighting,” Brown said. “They’re a veteran team, with veteran guys that know how to play the game and even the young guys are veterans because they’ve been through it for years together—ups and downs. So we’ve just got to know it’s a 48-minute game. That’s what we always preach to our guys. It was evident in the last time we played Minnesota that it’s a 48-minute game, not a 24 or anything less than that.”

For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter.