Wolves at Pacers
6 pm CST
The Wolves get a chance to get the bad taste of the last two games out of their mouths tonight when they face the Pacers in Indianapolis. The Wolves have yet to lose on the road this season (4-0), but are closing out a difficult four games in five nights stretch against a resurgent Pacers team that has won five of their last six.
The big story for the Pacers is the return of Paul George. In fact, Paul Flannery of the SBN mother ship just published a great article today about George's resurgence and the tear he has been on over the last couple of weeks.
Meanwhile, the Pacers remade their team over the summer, getting rid of lumbering center Roy Hibbert and installing a more spread system while adding scoring guard Monta Ellis. It hasn't exactly shown up in their stats yet, as they remain a slow paced team whose defense (8th in the league) is far ahead of their offense (27th).
In addition to George, George Hill has been hot this season especially from beyond the arc, where he is shooting 46% on over five attempts a game. The Wolves will have to be aware of him as well as Ellis on the perimeter, and will actually have to make some tough choices on match ups. Ellis starting at the shooting guard creates a question about who will guard him. Even if Ricky Rubio plays tonight, it leaves a long wing on the smaller, quicker Ellis, unless they cross match and put Rubio on Ellis and Wiggins (or Prince) on Hill. Meanwhile, the Pacers have been starting very small, with C.J. Miles the power forward in their recent lineups. This makes them susceptible on the boards, and hopefully the Wolves can take advantage.
The Wolves need to get back to winning ball. The last couple of games have been disappointing, especially because injuries meant the Wolves were unable to field their best lineups. It has become clear that while the Wolves are a better team than last season's iteration, they still lack the depth to withstand much in the way of time missed by their key handful of players. Who the Wolves decide to start on Paul George will be interesting; Andrew Wiggins appears to be coming into his own defensively, and George would be a fantastic challenge for him. On the other hand, Wiggins' offense is needed as well, and giving him a less demanding match up defensively might be the choice.
The Pacers will be missing rookie Myles Turner who broke his hand and will be out for about four weeks. This is really too bad because he was in the rotation and making a nice contribution, and I was looking forward to seeing him play.
Rodney Stuckey is questionable with an ankle injury. He's been a useful guard off the bench for the Pacers in the early going.
For the Wolves, expect Kevin Garnett to sit out as it's the second night of a back to back, and Ricky Rubio is questionable with a mild hamstring strain.
Ex-Wolves: The Pacers feature two ex-Wolves. Chase Budinger, who was traded to the Pacers over the summer, is playing about 16 minutes a game off the bench while Glenn Robinson III has appeared in five games so far.
Back with a game thread later.
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