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Tim's Game Preview: Game 54, Philadelphia 76ers

 

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The Philadelphia 76ers bring their unappetizing play to the Target Center.

Minnesota Timberwolves (13-40) vs. Philadelphia 76ers (25-28) at Target Center

The Philadelphia 76ers come into Minnesota after beating the team with the best record in the league (San Antonio) and only giving up 71 points in the process. For their own part, the Sixers only scored 77 points on 35% shooting.

The Wolves, on the other hand, are coming off of a close moral victory to the Indiana Pacers. Pacers guard Dahntay Jones became the latest contestant on "Who Wants to Be a Three Point Shooter?" and A.J. Price - despite being the worst point guard in the building - scored all 8 of his points in the 4th quarter.

It's been over a year since the Wolves have lost to the Sixers. Minnesota has been surprisingly good on the tail end of back-to-backs this year, so we should be able to pull this one out.

Let's break down tonight's matchups:

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This preview is breaking a world record. It will be the first time 'intimidating' and 'Spencer Hawes' have been used in the same sentence.

Nikola Pekovic vs. Spencer Hawes

Spencer Hawes came over in a trade from Sacramento involving Samuel Dalembert and Andres Nocioni. He's a "Euro style" big man who is actually from Seattle. He can hit threes, but he can't post up, he can't rebound well and he rarely ever draws fouls. In other words, he's the exact opposite of a true "Euro" big man - Nikola Pekovic.

Don't get me wrong. I'm sad that Darko is still hurt and I'm excited for when he gets back. However, since Pekovic has been getting more minutes, he has looked like the guy we were all anticipating this summer. He's becoming a force, and perhaps, could be our starting center of the future. He needs to improve several areas of his game, particularly his rebounding, but I'm excited about his prospects.

Winner: Nikola Pekovic

 

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One of the best free agent signings of the past decade, Elton Brand.

Kevin Love vs. Elton Brand

Elton Brand, who looked finished as an NBA player last year, has had a mini-resurgence with the Philadelphia 76ers this season. He's shooting better. He's rebounding better. His scoring is up. He's also played in 52 of the Sixers' 53 games. If he weren't being paid more than $45 million over this season and the next two seasons, this resurgence might seem more impressive.

In a just world, Kevin Love would be getting $15+ mil per season and Brand would be getting $3.6 million. However, the basketball court provides its own brand of justice - no pun intended. Love is going to show this Dukie why he is worth 5 times more money.

Kevin Love is not part of the problem. He's part of the solution. In fact, he's part of the best basketball team to ever play in the NBA since the 2009-2010 Minnesota Timberwolves.

Winner: Kevin Love

 

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Do we really want this guy on our team?

Wesley Johnson vs. Andre Iguodala

It's been happening on Canis Hoopus and other Timberwolves' message boards for months now. Fans have been clamoring for Andre Iguodala, thinking he is the perfect fit for this team. But is he really? Let's look at some facts.

The highest number of games that the Sixers have won with Iguodala on the roster: 43, in his rookie year. Allen Iverson and Chris Webber were also on that team.

Number of All-Star appearances: 0.

Number of Playoff series victories: 0.

Clearly, the Sixers have not had much team success based upon Iguodala's play. Sure, he had a nice run with Team USA this summer, but unlike other players on that team who have seen their play substantially increase this year, Iguodala's production has actually dropped. Oh, and he gets paid over $12 million this season.

No thanks, I'll pass. Wesley Johnson is good enough for me.

Winner: Wesley Johnson

 

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Jodie Meeks, reminding the referee that he once scored 54 points when he was at Kentucky.

Corey Brewer vs. Jodie Meeks

Jodie Meeks is a scorer. That's what he does. He's got a nice outside shot. He doesn't turn the ball over much. He's got nice scoring instincts.

So what's the problem? Well, tonight, Meeks has to deal with one of the best defenders of his generation, Corey Brewer. Some people like to argue that fact. Some people claim that Brewer is, in fact, a bad defender. But the results say otherwise.

For instance, some may point out that Kevin Durant scored 47 points - mostly on Brewer - back in late January. But just think of how many points he would have scored if someone other than Corey Brewer was guarding him. 57? 67? There's no way of knowing, but it likely would have been a lot.

Thanks, Corey.

Winner: Corey Brewer

 

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"Oh man, did I show up for the wrong team again?"

Jonny Flynn vs. Jrue Holiday

Jrue Holiday was the first player born in the 1990s to play in the NBA. Holiday had a fairly mediocre rookie year, but he's improved dramatically since then, and now is considered one of the best young point guards in the league. Holiday has good size and is a terrific defender, but unfortunately, his offensive skills aren't quite as good as his defensive ones.

Holiday has poor court vision, turns the ball over a lot and odes not have a good enough shot to make up for those shortcomings. Last season, he placed 69th out of 71 point guards in turnover ratio.

Jonny Flynn is going to get another start at point guard tonight. Luke Ridnour will be back with the team, but will back up Flynn since he has not practiced with the team in a while.

Flynn had his best game of the season on Tuesday against the Houston Rockets, and despite a poor performance against Indiana (4 points on 2-of-8 shooting with 2 assists and 5 turnovers), Flynn is quickly coming into his own as a point guard. In an unscientific survey of NBA front office personnel, 100% of them said that Jonny Flynn will be the best point guard in the league within 3 years*.

Flynn should win tonight, too.

Winner: Jonny Flynn

 

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Doug Collins is better holding a microphone than a playbook.

My Prediction: Timberwolves 88 - Philadelphia 76ers 84

Timberwolves' Record: 14-40

 

*100% margin of error.

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