Too little, too late? The Brooklyn Nets were finally able to snap their losing streak and came away with a 94-87 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night. They're still *technically* in the playoff hunt, but they have to leapfrog three teams to reach the eighth seed.
Waiting for Brooklyn will be the Minnesota Timberwolves. The rebuilding process continues for this club as they will miss the playoffs for the eleventh consecutive season. They'll have a chance to restock in the upcoming draft and by next season, they hope to continue on the path to contention. Linking back to the present, this is the second night of a back-to-back. They got roasted by the Spurs in San Antonio last night and are on a four game losing streak.
Where to follow the game
YES Network on TV, WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip off is set for after 8 PM.
Nobody on the active roster is hurt, but Mirza Teletovic and Sergey Karasev are out for the season, giving the Nets 12 healthy players the rest of the way, unless they fill the final roster spot.
The T'Wolves have been banged up recently. Kevin Garnett has been dealing with a knee injury over the past week and his status for tonight is up in the air. Ricky Rubio's been dealing with an ankle injury and his status is listed as questionable. Nikola Pekovic didn't play last night either and he's also questionable. And to round things out, Anthony Bennett hasn't played in almost a month.
What's going on? Let's get it:
Offensive Rebounding Rate
Free Throw Rate
Effective Field Goal Percentage
Opponent's Effective Field Goal Percentage
The Wolves won the first contest back in November.
Minnesota is looking different these days. They traded Mo Williams to Charlotte in January and sent Thaddeus Young over to Brooklyn in exchange for KG.
With most of the good players out, it's hard to really get a read on what kind of (good) game (if any) to expect from 'sota. They've been blown out three times in their last four games, and we've reached the point of the season where everyone just wants to hurry up and get things over with. The team has some nice talent and with some development from a few players and a lucky break here and there, they might threaten for a playoff spot next year.
Brook Lopez didn't have a good game on Saturday, but that should change tonight. Gorgui Dieng is a pretty capable offensive player, but has plenty of room for improvement on defense. Teams are shooting 56.3 percent at the rim against him. The Nets ought to slow the pace of the game down and get the ball to Lopez early and often in the low post. Minnesota's frontcourt rotation is thin right now, and if Pekovic + KG don't play, they'll be in big trouble.
Zach Lavine is playing point guard for the time being, but figures to be a two guard once this team truly gets competitive. In the meantime, he'll be matched up with Deron Williams. There was a belief that Williams was going to have a big second half and lead the Nets to the playoffs. He had been doing a good job of running the offense and was playing reasonably well on an individual basis. These days? Not so much.
Player to watch: Andrew Wiggins
Say hello to the likely Rookie of the Year. At the beginning of the season, there was a comparison made between him and James Posey, but that read and felt like a reach, especially considering that it was written around Christmas time. The good folks over at Canis Hoopus took a short and long term view of Wiggins and wrote:
And that's why, ultimately, 30 games, or 36 games, or 82 games even, is too short a time to be declaring Wiggins is, well, anything. This is a long term work in progress. Even going by the rapid ascent of superstars of LeBron or Durant's caliber, it takes at least two years to see who they really could be. Have we learned nothing from Shabazz Muhammad this season? In all likelihood, we won't start getting a good idea about Wiggins' true level until Christmas 2016.
True, but there's still been plenty to love. He's shooting 45 percent from the field in the second half, finishes well at the rim, gets to the free throw line a good amount, and can take over games for stretches at a time. As with any rookie, there's plenty of room for improvement (i.e. cutting down on the turnovers). And if Kevin Love continues to underachieve, then that trade will look even better for the Wolves.
Markel Brown figures to get the first crack at Wiggins. Brown's been starting since February 23 in Denver and usually draws the opponent's best perimeter player. He's done a decent job and should see a lot more minutes down the stretch. On the other side, Wiggins should get a few turns guarding Joe Johnson. Johnson has the size advantage on Wiggins and ought to post him up. However, he hasn't shot well in the post throughout March and it appears that the injuries he's been playing through since mid December have caught up with him.
From the Vault
Back in 2003, The Lakers were trying to win their fourth straight Championship. KG and the Wolves were trying to win their first playoff series in franchise history. Let's see what happens...
More reading: Canis Hoopus
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Minnesota Timberwolves Game Notes - Minnesota Timberwolves
- Nets-Timberwolves Preview - Jeff Bartl - STATS LLC
- Nets face old teammate Garnett, who made big impact on them - Mitch Abramson - New York Daily News
- Before reunion, Nets talk up big Kevin Garnett influence - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- Nets expecting Kevin Garnett to be vocal - Andy Vasquez - The Record
- Nets try to build some momentum against Timberwolves - Sean Flattery - The Brooklyn Game
Wolves-Brooklyn Nets game preview - Jerry Zgoda - Minneapolis Star-Tribune