Wolves Playing Injury Waiting Game
One thing that was clear after Sunday night’s 108-97 loss to the Trail Blazers in Portland is how much the Timberwolves need their depth back at the center position. This is a crucial stretch of play for Minnesota as it tries to keep its postseason chances alive, but as we witnessed last season it’s not easy to sustain success when you have people on inactive on the sidelines.
You can cover for them in the short term, but long term you need to have your players out there. The Wolves suffered through that last year, and right now with Nikola Pekovic and Ronny Turiaf out at the center spot and Kevin Martin out at shooting guard, the Wolves are susceptible to wearing down late in games.
That was the case on Sunday in Portland. More than any game we’ve seen this season, Minnesota simply couldn’t hang on physically in the second half because they were gassed.
“On a night like tonight, it just reminds us that we need all of our guys back,” Kevin Love said. “We need our depth, even when they wouldn’t have everybody in the lineup tonight. It would be nice to have them, but the second half was tough for us.”
As it stands, Pekovic continues to test out his right ankle (bursitis) pregame each day, and the Wolves have been practicing a bit with him in preparation of playing with our without him over the past week. He’s been a gametime decision in Utah and Portland, and he’ll likely continue to be that moving forward until he’s able to get back on the court in-game.
Pekovic said in Utah that the good news is he’s not feeling any more pain in his ankle. The pain is steady, and it’s still there, but he’s been told if the pain doesn’t increase that’s a normal progression with this injury. Being he is 6-foot-11 and 285 pounds, it’s important to make sure he is able to move properly shifting weight onto that ankle before he gets back in the lineup.
“That’s probably how it’s going to be,” Pekovic said. “Try it out and see how it feels. But it’s not only my decision. With [athletic trainer] Gregg [Farnam] and everything, we just have to discuss about it and see what the best solution is for me.”
Ronny Turiaf (knee) is still out indefinitely. He is traveling with the team on this road trip, but there is no clear timetable on when he’ll be back.
Kevin Martin is scheduled to be re-evaluated for a second opinion on his broken left thumb today in Los Angeles. We’ll find out more about that once he rejoins the team. As we speak (4 p.m. CT), the Wolves are in flight from Portland to Phoenix somewhere over Oregon or Nevada.
Martin said his first re-evaluation, which took place on Friday in Bloomington, showed that he’s progressing well. But he wanted to get a second look to see if there is a more definite timeline. “I’m very hopeful,” Martin said about playing on this road trip, which includes remaining stops in Phoenix, Sacramento and Denver. “Get a second opinion on Monday, so we’ll go from there.”