Shootaround: Wolves vs. Spurs

Shootaround Access: Wolves vs. Spurs

After two games working with a severely shorthanded lineup, the Timberwolves appear to have more man-power available tonight against the Spurs.

Coach Rick Adelman said at this morning’s shootaround that guard/forward Martell Webster (back), center Brad Miller (knee) and guard Luke Ridnour (knee) will be available for the 7 p.m. tipoff. Forward Michael Beasley, who has missed the last 11 games with a foot injury, is a game-time decision. JJ Barea and Malcolm Lee will not play.

If Webster and Miller get into the game, it will be their first floor time of the season after each underwent surgery in the offseason.

Adelman said bringing players back is a difficult process, particularly when gauging minutes.

“I don’t know how you bring bench people back or make decisions on choosing who’s going to play, who’s not,” Adelman said. “I really have no idea. Even though there are some that could play, what kind of rotation are we going to have? I just don’t know.”

On the flip side, that’s not a bad problem to have.

The Wolves haven’t had a lot of options the past two games, particularly at the small forward and point guard positions. Derrick Williams has transitioned to the 3 with Beasley and Wes Johnson (illness) missing time, while Ricky Rubio was the lone point guard available in Wednesday’s win against the Mavericks.

Mixing and matching to fill voids has been a challenge for both coaches and players alike.

“It’s two different positions; you have to learn two different ways to guard people, two different sets of plays,” Williams said. “There are always people on my team when I’m out there on the court that when I’m in two different spots. They’re always helping me out there—Ricky, K-Love, it makes the game easier for me.”

Tonight, there is the possibility Beasley could return to give more stability at the small forward position, and with Ridnour available Rubio should get more time on the bench than his two minutes in Dallas.

With players available, the next step is looking to replicate the team’s last meeting against the Spurs. Minnesota topped the perennial Western Conference power 106-96 on Jan. 2. Forward Kevin Love said the team was able to slow down Tim Duncan enough on that night, but this time around it’s also going to be crucial to keep their bench in check.

“They’re a great team and have a ton of veterans,” Love said. “(Coach Gregg Popovich) has them working day-in and day-out. They have a bunch of younger guys, too, but they get up in you. They force tough passes, tough shots.”

Adelman said the challenge will be meshing the returning players with those who have been on the floor.

“You can go through things offensively, but until you get the whole group out on the floor, it’s really hard to figure out what we are going to do,” Adelman said.

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