(Another HighTops banger. -- TZ)
The Timberwolves arrive in Sacramento with a 1-7 record. After falling to the Kings in the Wolves' season opener, Minnesota beat Milwaukee before going on to lose their next six games, five of which were on the road. But to be fair, considering their opponents (Memphis, Miami, Orlando, Atlanta, Houston and the Lakers), it’s unlikely the Kings would have done much better.
Minnesota has the worst Offensive Efficiency in the NBA with 93.1 pts per 100 possessions and is being outscored by 17.6 points. The Wolves have the worst eFG% at 42.1 and the 7th-worst turnover rate. If it wasn’t for the fact that they have the 5th-best offensive rebound rate and are holding their opponents to the 3rd-worst ORR, scoring 97 ppg would be out of the question, and their opponent would be scoring more than their 114-ppg average.
So, are the Twolves that bad or has their competition just been that good?
Yes, to both, but probably more so the competition. Of the seven players who have taken double-digit attempts from three-point range, only Luke Ridnour (41.7%) and Sebastian Telfair (37.5%) are shooting above 33%. But in the team's earlier game against the Kings, Minny outscored the Kings both at the rim and from beyond the arc.
The Wolves were 8-18 from three-point range and of the seven players who took three-point attempts only Wayne Ellington and Wes Johnson shot below 50% eFG%. And, at the rim, the Wolves were 15-21 for 71.5%. With eight of nine players shooting better than 50% at the rim, only Beasley, who was 1-3, shot below 50%. Of course, the Kings were without Samuel Dalembert and Tyreke Evans, who will both be starting this time around. The Wolves will be without Ridnour, who is out with a strained hamstring. But overall, we haven’t shown that we are ready to take any team for granted.
It’s unlikely that the Kings will get to the free throw line 47 times, like they did in the first game. But they do need to attack the basket, which should create defensive problems for Darko Milicic, Nikola Pekovic and Kosta Koufos. Minny can be scored on, but the Kings should slow down the pace more to their style, which is around 95 possessions per game. They were around 105 in the last matchup. But this game is more than likely going to be won or lost on the glass. Minny scored 35 fast break points on 35 defensive rebounds and 13 turnovers. Their 2nd chance points off almost 18 offensive rebounds per game are making up for poor jump shooting.
Take our time in the half court and get high percentage shots. Send help to block out on Kevin Love and keep him off the glass as much as possible. Someone needs to get back as soon as we put up a shot to defend the fast break. Last time it was Carl Landry on the offensive glass, hopefully this time it will be Dalembert on the defensive glass, too.
So far, we’ve been playing from behind, and until that stops it’s difficult to pick a win margin, but a win it will be.