By: Jeremy Hyman
The Wizards head back on the road for a two-game swing beginning tonight in Minnesota as they take on the Timberwolves at the Target Center (8:00 pm | TV: CSN | Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM). The Wizards beat the Wolves in their last meeting, 114-101, back on January 25th in D.C.
Bradley Beal, who sprained his ankle in Sunday night's game, did not rule himself out of tonight's game, but he did not practice on Tuesday and would need his ankle to improve to play tonight.
Much like the Wizards had earlier this season, the Timberwolves have caught a case of the injury bug and are missing many of their key contributors. Kevin Love, the NBA's top rebounder (14.0 RPG), will miss a few more weeks with a fractured hand which is a big loss down low. On top of that, Nikola Pekovic is questionable with an abdominal strain. If he can't go, this means that Greg Stiemsma steps into the starting center role and will play alongside Derrick Williams on a thin Wolves' front line. They join Brandon Roy, Alexei Kirilenko, Chase Buddinger, and Malcom Lee on the injured list as the Wolves try and find a way to fight through their injury plagued season.
The Wolves enter tonight's game on a six-game losing streak, while the Wizards are 4-2 over their last six games.
In their last meeting in Washington, the Wizards had no trouble taking care of business as they cruised to a 114-101 victory. The Wolves played that game without Alexey Shved, who will likely play off the Wolves bench tonight. Shved, a combo guard who can contribute to his team in a few different ways, played in the Rising Stars Challenge with Bradley Beal. He doesn't shoot a high percentage from long range (30%), but he averages about 10 points per game and is one of their top threats off the bench.
This past off-season, the Wizards turned Rashard Lewis into Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza and are now seeing the benefits of what these two veterans bring to the table. Okafor has posted five double-doubles in his last six games and is averaging 13.3 points and 11.3 rebounds, while Ariza is averaging 14.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists over that stretch. They are both guys who tend to be known more for their defense, which continues to be strong, but are now giving the Wizards major contributions on the offensive end as well.
Tonight is a great chance for the Wizards to grab a road win against a depleted Timberwolves roster. The Wolves are shooting a league-worst 29% from three-point range which means the Wizards should be able to help off the perimeter and clog the lanes.
The action kicks off at 8:00pm.
John Wall bounced back in a big way on Sunday night, sealing the game with a clutch jumper in the final seconds to beat the 76ers. He finished the game with 16 points, six assists, and five boards and seemed to get his confidence back. He will play a big role again tonight against a team that likes to run and push the pace, which is a game that suits Wall's strengths.
For the Wolves, much of their future is in the hands of their point guard Ricky Rubio. He has dished out at least eight assists in each of his last six games and he can be a magician with the ball. He can be one of the most exciting players to watch and the Wizards will need to beware of all passing lanes when he has the ball in his hands.
In the below clip, Wall pulls off an incredible 360-layup.