Game #30: Portlamia (Wolves V. Portland For The Battle Of The Game Nobody In Minnesota Will Watch)

Jamie Squire

In the 30th game on the road to...whatever, nobody in Minnesota will actually watch this game.

Thanks a lot, Purple Jesus.

Sincerely,

The Minnesota Timberwolves

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At the beginning of the Wolves' tough 3-games-in-5-days-against-divisional-opponents stretch, they sat in 3rd place in the NW Division with a 14-13 record while Portland was in 4th with a 15-14 record. Then, the Wolves played like dogs against the Jazz, Kevin Love injured himself, the non-Loves hacked out a holy-crap-I-can't-believe-they-did-that-and-it-will-never-be-replicated-on-a-regular-basis win, and they enter tonight's game-that-nobody-in-Minnesota-will-watch in 4th place (15-14) looking up at 2nd place Portland (17-15), who has won 7 out of their last 10 tits.

Last night Portland was down Memphis way where they pulled out a tough victory over the Griz thanks to some gutty last minute defense/cold Memphis shooting and one of the weirdest non-travel/falling out of bounds calls in recent memory. Hopefully they will be all tuckered out.

Meanwhile, the long-standing love between the two team's front offices marches on:

• Both the Wolves and Blazers are sworn to secrecy, but one team source didn't deny that the compensation the Wolves are getting for the Martell Webster compensation claim is no more than a second round pick and/or cash. It's unknown when the league will make public that the case is closed, but it is.

I can't wait until Neil Olshey offers Pek a max deal in the off season. One can only hope that he'll have Nicolas Batum deliver the offer sheet to his favorite American city. Ahhhhhh...memories.

It's pretty tough to have a must-win game this early in an 82 game season, but this is about as close as it gets. It looks like there is going to be a fairly large bunching of teams fighting for the last 2-3 playoff spots and, if the Wolves are lucky (and if Kevin Love can get his shot back and Ricky Rubio can return to game shape and if they can find someone to play the damn wing), they can be one of the teams at the top of that group. If they want that to be the case, it will be games like this that really, really matter in the long run.

What should the Wolves be looking out for in tonight's game....especially since nobody in Minnesota will be watching?

  • Portland is 5th in the league in 3 point attempts. They don't make a whole lot of them (.334, 26th in the league) but they take a lot of them. Hopefully tonight will be another off shooting night from the great beyond.
  • Portland has found themselves to be a solidly middle-of-the-road team. Take a peak over at their league rankings on Basketball Reference. 5 out of 8 off/def 4 factors are in the teens. They are playing like a team that, like the Wolves, will be flirting with .500 for most of the year. That being said, they've been something of an over achieving bunch so far, outpacing their expected W/L (13-19) by 4 games while carrying a -2.52 SRS. It will be really interesting to see where the Wolves and Blazers are at the half way point. The Wolves are pretty much playing as expected without several of their key players being healthy or effective. The Blazers are, comparatively, a surprise.
  • Who will make shots for the Wolves? Banking on 6-10 shooting from J.J. isn't the best idea and Ricky Rubio isn't exactly going to be making a huge contribution to the TS bottom line with his (hopeful) return to the lineup. Hopefully, the pick-and-roll game with Ricky/Shved and Pek will be in full effect tonight and the big fella will put on one hell of an audition for Neil Olshey and the Blazers.
Well folks, that about does it. Enjoy the Vikings game and go Wolves!

BTW: Our blogging buddies for the day are over at the always excellent Blazer's Edge.
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