Scouting Report: Wolves at Cavaliers
Wolves (18-30) vs Grizzlies (16-35) — 6:00 PM Quicken Loans Arena
Where to Watch: Fox Sports North
Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM
View Timberwolves Game Notes
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After dropping the first installment of their road trip 105-88 against Memphis on Sunday evening, the Wolves head north for a contest against the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight at Quicken Loans Arena. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO-AM.
After a standout rookie campaign in 2011-2012, Kyrie Irving has improved in nearly all of his statistics this year. He’s putting up 24.0 points per game (sixth in the NBA) and dishes out 5.5 assists per game. Last season’s NBA Rookie of the Year is progressing admirably, as he was just named to his first All-Star appearance.
Past Irving, this year’s first rounder Dion Waiters is contributing 14.1 PPG, but at a much lower success rate (38 percent compared to Irving’s 47). Lauded before the draft as the ultimate sixth man, Waiters has started 34 games this year and hasn’t had the smoothest transition. Cleveland lost big (literally and figuratively) when Anderson Varejao was deemed out for the year with a blood clot in his lung; he was averaging a league-high 14.4 rebounds per contest.
Cleveland’s offensive woes are clear when you look at their efficiency statistics; they put up the second-most field goal attempts in the entire NBA while converting the 28th-best percentage (.428). But despite their struggles since LeBron James’ departure, this is still a team with plenty of young talent in Irving, Waiters, Tristan Thompson, Tyler Zeller and more. As long as Varejao recovers fine and is retained, this is a team on the rise.
Last Time Out: Dec. 7, 2012
Defense carried the Minnesota Timberwolves as they advanced to a 9-9 record with a 91-73 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night.
“It's just a win we really needed,” coach Rick Adelman said. “We really needed to get something going here, and we gutted it out."
The Wolves held their opponent to a season-low shooting percentage as the Cavs finished with a 34.5 percent rate. Only two players for Cleveland scored in double digits, and its highest-scoring healthy player—Anderson Varejao—was held to only four points on 2-of-10 shooting.
Forward Kevin Love had a big night, logging 36 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. He started off with a bang, scoring 15 first-quarter points en route to his 11th career game of 35-plus points.
“It was just a good rhythm game for everybody,” Ridnour said. “Early on in the game we got going and got some easy stops. It was good to see everybody come out and play hard, play together; that’s how we like to play.”
The Wolves led at half by a 44-37 margin, but the Cavaliers climbed back within six points at the beginning of the fourth quarter in a comeback attempt. A 3-pointer from Barea (who ended with 10 points) helped ignite a 13-2 run that sealed the game.
Key Matchup: Alonzo Gee and Mickael Gelabale
Attendees of December’s matchup between Cleveland and Minnesota should remember Gee—he was the ultra-athletic forward dunking everything in sight. He scored 16 points that night to lead the Cavs, and he’s averaging 10.1 PPG on the year while starting all 51 games. Gee’s season shooting percentage is .407, but he is coming off an impressive 20-point performance against Denver where he canned 8-of-8 attempts, including three from outside. For a player who has had prior success against Minnesota and is coming off a red-hot game, fans should keep their eyes on Gee.
When Kirilenko ducked out of the Wolves’ starting lineup with a right quad injury, Mickael Gelabale received a promotion that had to have been much-awaited. A former 10-day contract player who was signed for the rest of the year, Gelabale has started the last three games for Minnesota, his first NBA starts since 2007. In his most recent game, yesterday against Memphis, Gelabale scored 14 points on a solid 5-of-7 shooting and played a team-high 36 minutes. With Kirilenko and Chase Budinger both injured, the small forward position has never been thinner for Minnesota. Gelabale’s success—or at least adequacy—at the position is paramount.
Injury report presented by TSR Injury Law
The Timberwolves will again be without Andrei Kirilenko tonight, who didn’t make the two-game road trip while still nursing a strained right quad. Wolves guard J.J. Barea is on the trip but did not play on Sunday in Memphis because of a left mid-foot sprain. He injured the foot on Friday against the Knicks, worked out prior to the game on Sunday but was unable to compete in the game. For the Cavaliers, center Anderson Varejao is done for the season due to knee surgery and a blood clot found in his lung that will require treatment over the next few months.
|Tonight's Probable Starters|
|PG||Ricky Rubio||Kyrie Irving|
|SG||Luke Ridnour||Dion Waiters|
|SF||Mickael Gelabale||Alonzo Gee|
|PF||Derrick Williams||Tristan Thompson|
|C||Nikola Pekovic||Tyler Zeller|