Well, that ended pretty much like we all expected.
Minnesota Timberwolves (Pretty much 35-0) vs. Charlotte Bobcats (11-21) at Target Center
Now that Larry Brown is lining up his next failed coaching gig, the Charlotte Bobcats have hired coach Paul Silas to turn this disappointing season around. The team has lost 9 straight on the road, including a 14-point shalacking at the hands of the Miami Heat, and come into Minnesota without Gerald Wallace, Nazr Mohammed or DeSagana Diop in the lineup.
The Timberwolves, meanwhile, are coming off of a heartbreaker against the Boston Celtics on Monday night. The Wolves were denied the full victory due to obvious referee bias. I mean, guys like Kobe and LeBron travel all the time and aren't called for it. Logically, that means that no one should ever be called for traveling under any circumstances, no matter how egregious. I'd also like to call for a full investigation of Tommy Heinsohn and his impact on the officiating of Monday's game.
Luckily, we already had the moral victory clinched well before that play and the Wolves come into tonight's contest with a great deal of momentum. Let's breakdown the matchups:
With Kwame Brown, Michael Jordan was able to prove that, yes, lightning can strike twice.
Darko Milicic vs. Kwame Brown
Kwame Brown is starting at center. No other six words in the English language can make an NBA coach happier. Kwame has never been anything approaching a quality NBA basketball player since he was taken with the #1 overall pick back in 2001. His best season - 10.9 points and 7.4 rebounds with the Wizards - was seven years ago and he's only starting for the Bobcats because the two guys ahead of him are out with injuries.
Darko has been dealing with a right quad injury for several games now but will start tonight against the Bobcats. He's scored 14 points or more in three of the last four games and has also had 10 assists over that period. Provided that he doesn't reaggravate his injury, Darko should continue putting up those types of numbers, especially given that, other than Kwame and Tyrus Thomas, the Bobcats have very little size.
Nikola Pekovic, whose play has been improving as of late, should also be able to use his strength to bully Bobcat defenders in the paint. Minnesota wins this matchup easily.
Winner: Darko Milicic
I promise I will not make any jokes about Boris Diaw's weight...
Kevin Love vs. Boris Diaw
I sympathize with Boris Diaw. After all, it can't be easy to go from playing with Steve Nash and Amar'e Stoudemire to D.J. Augustin and Eduardo Najera. I'd want to overeat, too. You want to kick the ball out to Raja Bell for a wide open three; instead, you've got Matt Carroll and Gerald Henderson. Please, pass the brownies. Shawn Marion's shot was ugly, but not as ugly as the games of Dominic McGuire and Derrick Brown. Let's hit up the all-you-can-eat buffet after practice. Plus, they aren't exactly lacking for places to find fattening food in North Carolina.
Kevin Love doesn't eat junk food. He just gobbles up rebounds like he will starve to death if he doesn't get another board soon.
On a positive note, it's nice to see that Kevin Love has finally made it to the big time. You can tell by all of the national media articles being written about Love leaving the team. They don't want you to leave the team unless they think you're something pretty special. Too bad for them. Love has - according to my sources - already signed a contract extension with the Timberwolves that will last through 2018.
Winner: Kevin Love
No, Stephen. If you want to be like Mike, you have to wait til' you're in the air to stick your tongue out.
There's only been one team that has been able to stop Michael Beasley this season and their uniforms are black-and-white. When Beasley can stay on the floor and avoid foul trouble, he has been a brilliant scorer for the Wolves and his reliable elbow jumper - one of the best and most efficient of all shots in basketball - is all be unstoppable for opposing defenses. Even when they know its coming, there's not much that they can do about it.
Although Stephen Jackson has worn a black-and-white uniform before - a much different type of uniform, however - I doubt he'll be able to stop Beasley either. Jackson is clearly the best offensive player on the Bobcats, by a considerable margin. The Wolves' best strategy? Send double teams at him and force one of the other Bobcats to beat them.
And when's the last time someone on this season's Bobcats, other than Jackson or Gerald Wallace, has beaten anyone.
Winner: Michael Beasley
Another solid lottery pick from the Bobcats.
Wesley Johnson vs. Gerald Henderson
Tell me how Gerald Henderson - drafted 12th in 2009 - is at all better than Wayne Ellington. Tell me how Henderson is better than Lazar Hayward. In fact, tell me how he is better than your average D-League shooting guard? In two full seasons, Henderson barely registered on the stat sheet with less than 40% shooting and 4 points per game. Last season, Henderson finished with an impressive PER of 6.45. So of course, he's the starting 2-guard for the Bobcats.
Of course, when your other option is Matt Carroll, there's not much that Paul Silas or any other coach could do to fix the Bobcats' woes from that position.
If only they had the opportunity to select Wesley Johnson. ESPN analyst David Thorpe recently observed that even "if [Wesley] never grows beyond what he is now, he's still going to be a solid player...his shot selection is already solid. And he's been a steady starter and contributor for an improved team."
I can't really say it any better than that.
Winner: Wesley Johnson
Is it too early to add D.J. Augustin to the list of careers that Larry Brown has ruined?
Luke Ridnour vs. D.J. Augustin
Last season, it was easy to see the Larry Brown Effect come into play with D.J. Augustin. Early in the season, he struggled with his shot, like many players do in their second seasons. Since Brown is terrible at coaching young players, Augustin lost his confidence and started taking significantly fewer shots as the year went on. He continued to pass up open looks, and given that Augustin is a score-first point guard, that's not a good thing. Sad for someone who had so much promise coming out of Texas.
Luke Ridnour should have scored the winning basket for the Timberwolves in Monday's game against the Celtics. Unfortunately, Bennett "Dwyane Wade" Salvatore took it away from him with a bogus traveling call. Tonight, the referees are Greg Willard, Josh Tivan and Leon Wood. Hopefully they know that travels aren't actually supposed to be called in the NBA.
Of course, it's hard to imagine this game coming down to a final play.
Winner: Luke Ridnour
These guys have as many playoff series wins as the Charlotte Bobcats.
My Prediction: Timberwolves 102 - Charlotte Bobcats 84
Timberwolves' Record: Pretty Much 36-0