Wolves vs. Blazers Gameday
Wolves vs. Blazers 7 PM - Target Center
Where to Watch: FS North
Where to Listen: 1130 KFAN AM
*Get your questions on the radio airwaves during halftime! Just tweet questions to @WolvesRadio and listen to the halftime show hosted by John Focke on 1130 AM.
* Anthony Tolliver (knee) - OUT
* Brandon Roy (knee) - OUT
* Greg Oden (knee surgery) - OUT
* Elliot Williams (knee surgery) - OUT
Hand it to the shorthanded Blazers for trucking along the 2010-11 season without their prized No. 1 overall pick from the 2007 draft and All-Star shooting guard. Center Greg Oden will miss another season as his future in the league remains questionable. Meanwhile, Brandon Roy now faces a similar uncertainty with a nagging knee injury that did not quite heal from an April 16 surgery last year. On December 30 of this season, the Blazers sidelined the smooth perimeter scorer for an indefinite amount of time and the team is reportedly looking into surgical options to correct his knee. Amid all the injury issues, Portland has played inspired basketball, floating two games above the .500 mark and winning three of its last four games.
Last Time Out
The Blazers utilized a nine-point advantage in the final stanza to top Houston for the second time in four days. The 103-100 victory pushed Portland to 13-12 against Western Conference foes.
The Wolves failed to take advantage of a Bobcats team without two of its best players and suffered a 108-105 overtime defeat on Wednesday night.
The Numbers Game
According to Elias Sports Bureau, Kevin Love and Blake Griffin are the first players to hold a streak of 22 consecutive games with double-doubles since Bill Walton and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the 1976-77 season.
Kevin Love vs. LaMarcus Aldridge
In the first meeting between the two teams, Aldridge tied a career high with 36 points in lifting Portland over the Wolves. Aldridge did not meet much resistance while hitting 15-of-22 from the floor, including several easy dunks at the rim. This season, Aldridge is posting sparkling offensive numbers and reaching the free throw line at the highest rate in his four years in the league. The challenge for Love is to check Aldridge from about 17-18 feet and challenge his consistent midrange game. Offensively, Love looks to continue his jaw-dropping output, especially after a 35 and 15 performance against the Bobcats on Wednesday. Both these power forwards are similar in their ability to shoot from the perimeter but their defense will go a long way in determining the final outcome of tonight's contest.
What to Look For
Some NBA analysts scoffed when Portland inked Wesley Matthews to a hefty contract this offseason. The second-year shooting guard is earning every cent of the new deal in replacing Roy in the backcourt. Matthews is averaging 15.4 points per game and recently scored 30 against Utah on New Year's Eve. Under the leadership of head coach Nate McMillan, the Blazers continue to be a formidable and deep team. As former Portland guard/forward Martell Webster mentioned in the shootaround video, the Blazers play a faster style of offense as opposed to a controlled pace with Roy in the lineup. Minnesota will also have to be aware of Portland's strong bench behind Rudy Fernandez, Dante Cunningham, and Patrick Mills. Fernandez is a major concern after he drilled four three-pointers and scored 26 points against the Wolves on December 17.
Minnesota searches for a victory before heading to San Antonio on Sunday. The Blazers are susceptible to road losses, only holding a 7-14 record away from the Rose Garden in Portland.
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