The Minnesota Timberwolves only have two more wins than the worst team in the NBA (the Cleveland Cavaliers) and yet I consider them to be in the top half of teams I find intriguing to watch. Obviously, Kevin Love has a lot to do with that. But it helps that their starting center and small forward were both second overall picks. It seems improbable that a team with this much “talent” could be this bad.
At least with the Raptors, I expected them to be one of the worst teams in the NBA this season based on what I saw on their roster. With the T-Wolves, I knew that Love could be a 16 and 12 guy if he made the starting lineup (I obviously underestimated him) and Darko and Beasley struck me as prospects that just needed the right opportunity to shine with the chance to play regularly.
Not that anybody who writes about the Raptors should throw stones about the defence of any other team, but the T-Wolves are universally poor on that end and Beasley and Love are the only legitimate scoring options on the team. Darko can block shots but it now appears that’s the only basketball skill of which he’ll ever be above average. And the remainder of their roster is pretty desolate. In a twisted way, it would be an intriuging exercise to see which squad would win if the T-Wolves minus Darko, K-Love and Beasley faced the Heat minus LeBron, Wade and Bosh.
The Timberwolves have lost their last six games and 11 of their last 12, so the Raptors are finally facing a team that isn’t “rounding into form” at this point in the season. Both teams have an uncanny ability to blow winnable games in the fourth quarter, so the most fascinating storyline of this matchup is which team will screw up less late in the game and stumble their way to an undeserved win. And if that preview doesn’t get you pumped up, you need to go on anti-depressants.
Toronto: Leandro Barbosa and Linas Kleiza are still out, Joey Dorsey is questionable
Minnesota: The T-Wolves are injury-free, which means they’re exactly as bad as their 10-36 record shows.
1. Do you think Kevin Love deserves to play in the All-Star Game?
2. Do you think Bryan Colangelo should have tried to acquire Michael Beasley in the Chris Bosh trade to Miami?
3. Do you agree with me that T-Wolves assistant coach Bill Laimbeer would make a great replacement for Jay Triano?
4. After Amir Johnson’s performance last night, are any of you brave and/or stupid enough to continue to claim that he’s not worth his contract?
5. If Andrea Bargnani and Darko Milicic inexplicably get into a fight, who will you put your money on?
Start time: 8:00 PM ET
Liveblog: theScore.com and ScoreMobile with Holly MacKenzie
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Julian Wright, Amir Johnson, Andrea Bargnani
Minnesota: Luke Ridnour, Corey Brewer, Michael Beasley, Kevin Love, Darko Milicic
Sometimes I have a hard time coming up with a pregame song because I’m unfamiliar with the musicians based in the hometown of the Raptors’ opponents, but that wasn’t an issue with the Raptors’ first 2010-11 game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. While The Hold Steady is considered a Brooklyn-based band, the lead singer and lyricist, Craig Finn, is from Minnesota and The Hold Steady is one of my favourite bands. Before I watched any of their videos, I thought of Finn as a drunk Bruce Springsteen. Now that I’ve watched the video of their best song, his mannerisms remind me of a drunk, heavier Elvis Costello. Regardless, “Stuck Between Stations” is one of the great rock songs of the past decade.