Tonight is the start of 28 consecutive must-win games for David Kahn and the Minnesota TImberwolves.
Minnesota Timberwolves (13-41) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (30-24) at Target Center
This is it, Minnesota. If the Timberwolves lose tonight, they will no longer be able to have a .500 record this season. It's also important because Portland is 17 games ahead of Minnesota for the 8th and final playoff spot. They already own the tiebreaker but a win tonight would help to close the margin to the playoffs.
Some of the Blazers have, admittedly, had pretty good games against us this year. LaMarcus Aldridge is averaging 33.7 points on 62% shooting and 10.7 rebounds in three games against Minnesota. Wesley Matthews is averaging 26.7 points in the season series, which is 10.4 points better than his season average. The Blazers are 14-6 when Matthews scores more than 20 points.
None of that matters tonight. It's a new game and the Wolves are undefeated on games played on February 4th, 2011. Let's break down tonight's matchups:
Do you think Pekovic weighs twice as much as Cunningham or three times as much?
Dante Cunningham graduated from Potomac High with a 3.8 grade point average. So, he should be smart enough to know that he doesn't have the size or the strength to take on a player like Nikola Pekovic. Cunningham is getting more minutes this season and is putting up similar numbers to his rookie year, although he's only shooting 42% (compared to 49% last season). Some might say that isn't bad for a second round pick...
...but Nikola Pekovic was a second round pick. And I don't think its outrageous to say that Pekovic's worst case scenario is a couple of All-Star and NBA 3rd Team appearances. Pekovic will muscle Cunningham around tonight and should have an easy time scoring in the post.
Winner: Nikola Pekovic
22.3% of people watching this show felt sorry for LaMarcus Aldridge.
Kevin Love vs. LaMarcus Aldridge
LaMarcus Aldridge is not a good basketball player. He didn't deserve an All-Star appearance. If Love, Blake Griffin, Paul Millsap, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, Lamar Odom, Jeff Green, Hakim Warrick and Al Jefferson all got the flu, Aldridge still wouldn't deserve an All-Star appearance. He barely deserves a roster spot. He is, quite frankly, the worst NBA player in the league.
Okay, I'm exaggerating. He's had some decent games. But he's no an All-Star.
Kevin Love is an All-Star. He's not part of the problem in Minnesota. He's part of the solution. And that means that he is above any type of criticism, whether minor or major.
He's certainly above LaMarcus Aldridge.
Winner: Kevin Love
Nicolas Batum was such a celebrated prospect that they didn't even spell his name right.
Michael Beasley vs. Nicolas Batum
The Wolves hope that Michael Beasley will be back for the Wolves tonight. Against the Blazers, Michael Beasley is averaging 20.7 points on 48% shooting (along with 2 blocks a game). While Wesley Johnson and Lazar Hayward have played well the past few games, it'll be great to have Beasley back on the court.
Nicolas Batum is averaging 23 mispronunciations of his last name per game in Minnesota, which is up from 20 across the rest of the NBA. Against the Pistons last game, Batum had only 7 points on 2-of-9 shooting. Remember when people wanted to trade the #4 pick for Batum? Wes Johnson had 6 points on 2-of-10 shooting last game. Wouldn't it have been great to have that extra point? That would've been awesome.
Winner: Michael Beasley
Jim Peterson's favorite new sports tradition: the Blazers '3' goggles.
Corey Brewer vs. Wesley Matthews
Wesley Matthews had 23 points against the Wolves on January 17th and 36 points on January 7th. If that trend keeps up, Matthews will score 10 points tonight.
Meanwhile, Corey Brewer went from 10 points against Houston to 12 points against Indiana to 15 points against the 76ers. That means Brewer will score between 17 and 18 points tonight.
See, I can do advanced stats, too. My logic is undeniable.
Winner: Corey Brewer
Just step back and enjoy the view, Andre.
Luke Ridnour came back to play against Philadelphia and one would have to believe that he'll get the start tonight against the Blazers. No offense to Jonny Flynn, but Ridnour is the better option and has played far better for most of the season.
As for Andre Miller, has he won anything ever? Not in Portland. Not Philly. Not Denver. Not with the Clippers and not with the Cavs. Not even with the Utah Utes, where he lost to Kentucky. Plain and simple, Miller is not a winner. Including tonight.
Winner: Luke Ridnour
The best and most culturally diverse fans in the NBA.