Tim's Game Preview: Game 40, Portland Trail Blazers


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SLAM Magazine's re-imaginged Marbury/Garnett cover with Rubio/Love is very well done. You should buy a copy for that alone.

Minnesota Timberwolves (20-19) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (19-19) at Target Center

Tonight, the Minnesota Timberwolves take on the Portland Trail Blazers for the second time in 5 days. The Wolves opened that game with a 40-28 1st quarter, gave back the lead before halftime, and ended the game with a 38-28 4th quarter. Near his hometown of Lake Oswego, Oregon, Kevin Love destroyed his fellow All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge. Love put up numbers of 42-10-4, while Aldridge mustered 14-7-4.

In my opinion, K-Love has to be entered into the MVP discussion. Is he in the top-3? Probably not. Is putting him in the top-5 a homer pick? More than likely. Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Dwight Howard are all certainly having MVP-worthy seasons. But with the Wolves only a game away from the playoffs, and with the next three best players on the Wolves being in their 1st or 2nd years, what Love is doing merits consideration.

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Is there really any question about who is the best power forward in the NBA?

Projected Starting Lineups

C: Darko Milicic vs. Marcus Camby
PF: Kevin Love vs. LaMarcus Aldridge
SF: Wesley Johnson vs. Gerald Wallace
SG: Luke Ridnour vs. Nicolas Batum
PG: Ricky Rubio vs. Raymond Felton

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I hope this means that Nicolas Batum is choosing the Minnesota Timberwolves to be his next team.

Last 5 Games

Portland Trail Blazers (4th in NW, 11 gms behind OKC; 10th in West, 1 1/2 gms behind 8 seed)

Tue, Feb 21: Win vs. San Antonio 137-97
Wed, Feb 29: Loss at Denver 95-104
Thu, Mar 1: Loss vs. Miami 93-107
Sat, Mar 3: Loss vs. Minnesota 110-122
Mon, Mar 5: Win vs. New Orleans 86-74

Minnesota Timberwolves (3rd in NW, 10 1/2 gms behind OKC; 9th in West, 1 gm behind 8 seed)

Tue, Feb 28: Win at LA Clippers 109-97
Wed, Feb 29: Loss at LA Lakers 85-104
Thu, Mar 1: Loss at Phoenix 95-104
Sat, Mar 3: Win at Portland 122-110
Mon, Mar 5: Win vs. LA Clippers 95-94

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Injury reports say Pekovic has a sore right foot. For Pek, a sore foot means that it was hacked off at the bone and re-attached using a needle, some thread and a roll of duct tape.

Injuries

Portland Trail Blazers

Greg Oden - Out for season with left knee surgery

Minnesota Timberwolves

Nikola Pekovic - Questionable with a sore right foot/ankle

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The Wolves keep climbing up the Northwest Division standings. Next up: Denver

Noteworthy Stats

  • '11-'12 stats for Ryan Gomes and Martell Webster, both in their seventh NBA seasons:
    Gomes: 30 gms played, 6.4 pts and 5.2 rebs per-36, .378 TS%, -0.016 WS/48, 4.9 PER
    Webster: 20 gms player, 12.5 pts and 4.9 rebs per-36, .538 TS%, .092 WS/48, 11.4 PER
  • Assuming Gerald Wallace accepts his player option, and that the Blazers do not re-sign any of their own free agents, they will have $40,682,940 in committed salaries this summer (#'s via HoopsHype.com).
  • If the Wolves decline the options on Webster and Brad Miller, and do not resign Michael Beasley, Anthony Randolph or Anthony Tolliver, they will have approximately $50 million in committed salaries this summer (depending upon Kevin Love's exact first year amount via his extension)
  • The Trail Blazers have won 8 straight games at the Target Center since March 25, 2007, and have won by an average of 17.2 points in their last five visits
  • The lowest winning percentage that the Wolves could finish the season with is .303, which would be the highest win % the team has had since 2006-2007. If the Wolves win seven more games (27-39), they would have the team's best win% since 2004-2005.

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The seat has to be getting hot, right Nate? Looks like the Blazers should've kept Rick Adelman after all.

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