Cavaliers at Timberwolves Preview

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Wolves look to avenge their loss in Cleveland in their second and final meeting of the season with the Cavs.

Cavaliers at Timberwolves
7:00 pm Central FS North

Highlights of the Wolves loss to the Cavs in Cleveland


Courtesy Late Round Productions

The Timberwolves will look to split their season series with the Cavaliers tonight at Target Center.

In the first meeting between these two teams, the Wolves looked down and out for 3 1/2 quarters before coming to life late to erase a double digit deficit. Unfortunately, Kevin Love missed a three pointer at the buzzer that would have won the game, and the Wolves suffered their first defeat of the season.

The game featured perhaps the best effort by the bench, as both J.J. Barea and Derrick Williams were on the floor for the fourth quarter comeback, and both contributed to giving the Wolves a chance to win. Conversely, this was probably Kevin Love's worst game of the young season, as he scored only 17 points on 8-20 from the floor, including 0-7 from three point range.  In fact, Kevin Martin was the only Wolf to make a three that night, hitting 5 of his 8 attempts.  The rest of the squad was 0-20.

Since then, the Cavs have lost three of four games, splitting two with the 76ers and losing to the Bucks and Bulls. They have yet to win on the road this season, and are struggling badly on offense.

Their two highest usage players, Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters both have TS% below .500.  The team as a whole is struggling to get good shots (28th in efg%) and not getting to the free throw line with any frequency (25th in FT/FGA). As a result, they have the 29th ranked offense in the league, which a fairly stout defense has not been able to make up for.

Meanwhile, the Andrew Bynum experiment is going slowly.  He has appeared in six games with one start, but is only shooting 36% from the floor, and apparently will not go tonight. Their number one pick, Anthony Bennett, has been an early disaster, and did not appear in their last game. C.J. Miles, the swingman who hurt the Wolves badly last week, has continued to play well off the bench, and is probably the Cavs biggest positive surprise.

One thing the Wolves need to pay attention to is their defensive rebounding. The Cavaliers, particularly Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao have been aggressive on the offensive glass and are 8th in the league on Oreb%.  The Wolves, on the other hand, probably due to their tendency to send their perimeter players in transition, are only 18th in defensive rebounding despite the presence of Kevin Love.

Tonight begins a run of four straight winnable games for the Timberwolves.  As much as every team in the league can win on any night, the Wolves need to take advantage of this stretch, starting with the Cavs.  Kyrie Irving is a wonderfully entertaining player when he gets it going, but the Wolves are better, they are at home, and they should not lose to the Cavs for a second time this season.

It would be of extra benefit if the bench, which has been struggling, finds some semblance of offense and are able to help out the starting group and take up some minutes.

Expected lineups

Cavaliers:

Kyrie Irving
Dion Waiters
Alonzo Gee*
Tristan Thompson
Anderson Varejao

*Earl Clark has started in all six games he's played, but did not appear in their last game against the Bulls.

Wolves

Ricky Rubio
Kevin Martin
Corey Brewer
Kevin Love
Nikola Pekovic

We'll be back with a game thread later.

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