The Wolves don't need a scouting report as much as they need a good X-ray technician.
Minnesota Timberwolves (26-0) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (12-14) at the Rose Garden
After a couple of close moral victories over the Phoenix Suns and the Golden State Warriors, the Timberwolves head to Portland to face the Trail Blazers. The Blazers have been struggling this season and find themselves a full six games behind Oklahoma City in the Northwest division (14 games behind the Timberwolves). Much of the Blazers' struggles have come due to injuries to key players like Greg Oden and Brandon Roy.
Additionally, it appears that Brandon Roy and Andre Miller are not exactly getting along great. After Monday's loss to the Grizzlies, Roy said about his struggles, "I wasn't that slow until you put a guy who is kind of slow next to me."
The Wolves, who have had their own injury struggles this season, are looking to take advantage of the problems in Portland and get a key victory over a division rival.
Tonight's game is being broadcast on Fox Sports North at 9 PM CST. Let's break down the matchups:
"Why yes, this shirt is made from real graph paper."
The 36-year old Marcus Camby has lost some of his athleticism but he is still one of the best rebounders and defenders in the league. Camby has pretty much no offensive game - save for putbacks on missed shots - but he is a solid passer from the high-post and led all centers in pure point rating last season (whatever the heck that is).
Unfortunately, even the best defender will have his problems with Darko Milicic, a Wilt Chamberlain-esque phenom who is averaging 10 points and 6 rebounds per game this season and currently has the highest All-Star vote total among Serbian NBA fans. I hope Camby has been watching some tape of this guy because he's going to get fed a steady diet of left-handed hook shots and two-handed throw downs. Not that watching tape will help Camby stop those moves, but they will at least make him prepared for what is about to happen.
I'm not saying that Marcus Camby will want to retire after tonight's game. But if the Blazers HR department wants to start getting the pension paperwork ready, it probably wouldn't be the worst idea in the world.
Winner: Darko Milicic
LaMarcus Aldrige and Kevin Love prepare for the world to end after hearing rumors that they had been traded for one another.
Kevin Love vs. LaMarcus Aldridge
After taking an informal survey of what I believe Blazers' fans think, the results say that if presented with a LaMarcus Aldridge-for-Kevin Love trade, they would turn it down faster than they were turned down by their 9th grade crush. Of course, this is madness. If the Blazers packaged Aldridge with Brandon Roy and a lifetime supply of Microsoft products from Paul Allen, the Wolves should still turn this one down. Why?
- LaMarcus spelled backwards is "sucra mal", which in Spanish, translates literally as "bad at basketball".
- LMA finished last in his high school spelling bee after misspelling the word, "defense"; he protested by saying that it was a word he had never heard of before.
- Downy once made a product called "LaMarcus Aldridge Soft", but discontinued it after consumers assumed the product was just air in a bottle
- If LaMarcus was in an empty gym, and the team brought in Rajon Rondo to take jump shots, Aldridge still couldn't grab as many rebounds as Kevin Love
- Pretty soon, it will be illegal to trade Kevin Love, since I have filed for him to be considered a Minnesota State Landmark
Sorry, LMA fans. Tonight, Aldridge's trade value is going to take a hit after Kevin Love has his way with him. This argument was over before it began.
Winner: Kevin Love
1. After this pic was taken, I'm pretty sure the mother of the kid put him up for bid on eBay.
2. I can only assume the Twins fan in the background used the "GO BLAZERS" sign to sneak into building in order to mock and ridicule Wesley Matthews and the rest of the Trail Blazers.
Michael Beasley vs. Wesley Matthews
Wesley Matthews, who went undrafted out of Marquette, signed with the Blazers for $5.7 million this offseason, which makes him the highest paid player in the 2009 NBA rookie class. Matthews is a strong defender who also has a decent offensive game and is averaging 15 points per contest so far this season. Good for him.
Tonight, however, he goes up against Michael Beasley, who can't be stopped on offense - and unless the refs are conspiring against him - can't be beaten on defense. Beasley moves his feet well and has wonderful lateral movement, which helps him to stay in front of his man, rotate well and close out on open shooters. Unofficially, Michael Beasley has only allowed opponents to score 15 points this season (total, not per game).
And when Beasley comes out, the Blazers get to look forward to Martell Webster. In a return that should be getting as much hype as "LeBron returns to Cleveland", Webster could probably drop 30 or 40 tonight on his former teammates if he wanted...but, since Webster is such a class act, he'll go easy on them tonight and let Beasley drop 30 or 40 instead.
Winner: Michael Beasley (and Martell Webster)
One of these two is crying about his playing time. I'll let you guess which one.
Wesley Johnson vs. Brandon Roy
In 2007, Portland assistant general manager helped to engineer one of the worst trades in Blazers' history, sending the #7 pick in the draft, Randy Foye, to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for the #6 pick, Brandon Roy. The Wolves' GM, Kevin McHale, passed on Roy because of Roy's knees, which McHale felt were not strong enough to withstand the rigors of the NBA.
Three years later and Pritchard is without a job; fired largely in part because of his midjudgment about Brandon Roy, who has been hampered with knee problems. One can only wonder what would have happened if the Blazers had kept Foye. Most likely they would be contenders and they certainly wouldn't be dealing with playing time issues with Andre Miller. At the very least, they would not be saddled with one of the worst contracts in the NBA. The Wolves, meanwhile, turned Foye into Ricky Rubio and are looking like title favorites next season with his addition.
It's funny how one trade can send a team spiraling. The Blazers take Roy over Foye and the franchise is set back years because of it. Sometimes, its really all about making the common sense move.
Winner: Randy Foye (and Wesley Johnson)
"Here, Brandon. This will definitely help your knee to feel better..."
Jonny Flynn vs. Andre Miller
If you're Andre Miller, how do you feel right now? The team's one-time superstar - who no longer plays like a superstar - is complaining about playing with you, even though you're having a great season and are one of the best reasons why the Blazers haven't completely imploded. Do you shrug it off? Do you get upset? Do you spread ugly rumors in the press? If I were Miller, I don't know that I'd take it that well.
Miller better focus on tonight's matchup, however, as he will face off against Jonny Flynn, who will be playing in only his third game of the season. To my knowledge, no one has ever complained about playing with Flynn, who is the consumate professional both on and off of the court. If Jonny were asked about sharing the ball with Luke Ridnour, Sebastian Telfair, Wayne Ellington, Wes Johnson or any of the other backcourt players for the Wolves, Flynn would likely say that, "when we all share the ball, shots will begin to fall."
Since the days of Bob Cousy, its hard to find a more likeable point guard with more NBA potential. And who could hate playing with that?
Winner: Jonny Flynn
The Wolves' current performance is making these three guys seem like a distant memory.
As a Wolves' fan and a season ticket holder, its been sad that my Wolves have been on such a long road trip. They won't be back at Target Center until Wednesday (when Big Al returns to Minnesota). Thankfully, they've provided some great performances on the road and are looking to continue their three-game moral-road winning streak tonight.