Shootaround Access: Wolves vs. Rockets | April 11, 2014
There are a lot of ice bags being passed around the locker rooms of the Houston Rockets and Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday afternoon.
Combined, the teams are missing four starters. The Rockets are currently without point guard Patrick Beverley (knee) and center Dwight Howard (ankle), while the Wolves are without shooting guard Kevin Martin (heel) and center Nikola Pekovic (ankle). The Wolves are also missing key bench contributors Shabazz Muhammad (knee) and Chase Budinger (ankle), with a possibility of J.J. Barea (back).
For the Wolves, they have just four games left and the whole team will be able to rest up as they are out of playoff contention. The Rockets on the other hand, have a playoff push to make and they’d like to do it at full strength.
For now, Jeremy Lin will fill in for the feisty Beverley, while Omer Asik will fill in for Howard. Rockets head coach Kevin McHale appreciates his team’s depth, but wouldn’t mind if those two came back sooner rather than later.
“There’s no teams in the league that you can say we’ll take two of your starters out,” McHale said. “The league’s not that deep. You just know we need everybody back playing well.”
After shooting guard James Harden got done shooting around, he immediately went to the sideline and iced his knees, ankles and… his left hand. Should Houston fans be worried?
“Yeah, I kind of hit it in Toronto…” Harden said. “But it’s alright… It’s tough, especially with my left hand. I do everything with my left hand.”
If that left hand injury hinders Harden at all tonight (though it doesn't seem serious), expect McHale to take him out, as the Rockets are already shorthanded.
The Wolves have been shorthanded for what seems to be two years now. Even with a depleted lineup, the Wolves have been able to beat the Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs in the last 10 days.
“Yeah, those are good wins no matter what time of the year it is, no matter who’s playing those are big wins against good teams,” said Rockets small forward Chandler Parsons. “So like I said, they are out right now but they are playing free, playing loose and they are just having fun.”
As I wrote about in today’s Scouting Report, the Wolves have the chance to help take homecourt advantage away from the Rockets tonight. The Rockets lead the Trail Blazers by 1.5 games for the fourth seed in the West. The Blazers play the Jazz tonight, so there’s a chance with a Wolves win, Houston could see its lead at just a half a game with three games left.
“You’ve got to play somebody no matter what. Our goal all year long was to get home court advantage,” McHale said. “We’ve got to take care of business and get that. But then it’s a matter of making a playoff run. A playoff run is not making the playoffs. It’s winning a series or two or three or whatever, as many as you can. That’s been our goal all year.”