Practice Report: Friday, Dec. 23

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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The Timberwolves have begun concentrating on the Oklahoma City Thunder as they prepare for Monday's regular season opener, but that doesn't mean coach Rick Adelman's game plan is set in stone.

Preparing for one of the Western Conference's top teams means there will be tweaking. Adelman said he won't pick a starting lineup until Monday.

But after two preseason wins against the Milwaukee Bucks, is his team ready?

"I don't think you ever know until you get out on the court and play," Adelman said. "We had two good practices, good concentration, trying to make sure we cover everything going into the first game. It will be interesting to see how we respond to facing one of the favorites in the league."

Adelman said part of the trouble in preparing for a talented group like the Thunder—which reached the conference finals a year ago, losing to the Mavericks—is trying to replicate matchups against star forward Kevin Durant and guard Russell Westbrook. Both provide difficult matchups on the floor.

"The last two day's we've gone over stuff we'll see from them," Adelman said. "It's kind of hard to simulate Durant and Westbrook. They're real handfuls, but we've been doing it the last few days and we'll do it again tomorrow."

Rubio ready for debut

Rookie point guard Ricky Rubio's eyes widened when asked about possibly playing in front of an even larger crowd than Saturday's home preseason win over the Bucks—which was announced as 15,013.

"It's going to be amazing," Rubio said. "I think people are exciting, and we're going to see how they come to the game and try to enjoy it."

The Wolves have the luxury of Luke Ridnour and JJ Barea also manning the point, but Adelman said Rubio will get the chance to jump in and contribute right away.

"You can't bring him in slowly," Adelman said. "If he comes out and plays, we're going to play him. Him and JJ off the bench, and then we'll see how it goes from there."

Evaluating Darko, Martell

Adelman spoke about center Darko Milicic and injured forward Martell Webster on their roles with the team throughout the season.

Milicic has had a strong week of practice and has been working hard, Adelman said. Webster, who is recovering from back surgery, will be an asset defensively for the club when he returns.

"He's always been a real solid player in this league," Adelman said. "If he gets back, he's really going to help us. He defends well and can shoot the ball, so when that comes we'll deal with it."

Milicic started 69 games last year for the Wolves, averaging 8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2 blocks per game. Webster played in 46 games last year and averaged 9.8 points and 23.8 minutes per game.

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