Practice Report: Wednesday, March 20, 2013

by Mark Remme
Web Editor

Alex Conover
Web Editorial Associate

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Wolves forward Chase Budinger has been on a road to recovery since suffering a lateral meniscus tear in early November, but that journey could conclude as early as tomorrow night in Sacramento. Budinger is getting very close to his return from knee surgery, as he participated in his first team practice today at the LifeTime Fitness Training Center.

“He did fine,” coach Rick Adelman said. “We’ll just have to see how he feels tomorrow and go from there. He was able to move fine, I didn’t see any problems with him.”

Budinger returned to the court after surgeon Dr. James Andrews gave the approval for full contact. He’s been gradually progressing over the past two months, starting with individual agility drills and moving on to shooting, jumping, lateral movements and conditioning. He said there will be soreness the rest of the season as his body gets back to full strength, but he continues to gain confidence the more time he puts in at the gym.

“[It] felt good to be out there,” Budinger said. “Felt good to be playing again with my teammates, just that first practice a little rusty. But I expected it. It feels like the first practice again. I was just trying to get my legs underneath me, but all in all the knee felt great.”

As with any injury, there will be an adjustment period while Budinger gets back into game shape.

“You can’t simulate basketball shape,” Budinger added. “The only way to get back into basketball shape is to play basketball. This first practice was a little raw for me, a little tough, but it felt good.”

For a Minnesota team that has been plagued with injuries all season, getting a healthy forward back will help tremendously. For someone like Ricky Rubio who went through his own surgery recovery, he knows just how tough the first couple games can be.

“First of all, he’s an extra body,” Rubio said. “That helps to take rest. Actually, he’s coming with a lot of energy. I know it’s going to be tough for him, because it’s hard coming back from an injury like that.”

Upcoming Weeks

If Budinger is able to return shortly, he will certainly help Minnesota get through one of its most difficult stretches of the season. The Wolves will play eight games in 12 days, including matchups with the Bulls, Lakers, Thunder, Grizzlies and Celtics.

“I really did not look at the schedule until just recently, and I saw all those games,” Adelman said. “It’s like they give us three home games that one week, and you’ve got Oklahoma City and Memphis. Real easy task there.”

After a two-game road trip against Sacramento and Phoenix, the Wolves play five games over the following week.

“We’re playing two teams that are very similar to us on this trip,” Adelman said. “Sacramento, their record’s not great, but they beat the Clippers last night and blew out the Bulls about a week ago. They’re playing better, and Phoenix is the same way. They beat the Lakers their last game, and that’s what we have to do. The thing I worry about is our schedule, it’s just so brutal. We have to win games at home and on the road, try to finish on a positive note.”

Rubio also emphasized finishing this season with a strong push.

“We don’t have to think what could have been,” Rubio said. “What can be? These three or four weeks that we have left, we have to go hard, we have to finish the season as hard as we can and try to build something for the future. We have to see what we have.”

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