Where: Target Center; Minneapolis, MN
When: 8pm EST
See It: SSO-CHA
Hear It: WFNZ-AM
This was the game I was looking forward to on the calendar: the first game between the Timberwolves and Bobcats. Growing up a Timberwolves fan and now adopting the Bobcats makes this a pretty exciting game for me, and both teams are exceeding expectations so far. This also means two of everything for me—previews, game tweets, and recaps – but this is the life I chose and I’m ok with it. Since it’s in Minneapolis, I could’ve gone to the game, but was too lazy to get tickets.
However, I’ve embraced the Bobcats full-on. I’ve started following Bobcats people on Twitter (Reminder: follow me, too), I wear my Rufus on Fire shirt out in public, and I catch their games on League Pass as well. Oh, and I even suffer the crappy, "LOLCATS" jokes.
For you, Rufus, I do it.
The Bobcats (3-3!) come in facing a depleted Timberwolves (5-2) on the second night of a back-to-back on the road. For the Bobcats, here’s a list of players you won’t be seeing: Gerald Henderson and Ben Gordon. And now here’s a list of Timberwolves you won’t or won’t likely be seeing: Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love, Brandon Roy, JJ Barea, Chase Budinger, and Nikola Pekovic. And it’s like 20 degrees out here, so life isn’t fun up here.
Aside from the Bobcats owning the all-time series 10-6 thus far, I think there’s a real chance to push this winning streak to three and get over .500.
For starters, the Wolves don’t have much size left (anywhere) in the frontcourt, but neither do the ‘Cats! No Pekovic means that the biggest defender they could put on Brendan Haywood or Byron Mullens would be…Greg Stiemsma, who has struggled with foul trouble at times. The only problem is, with guys like Andrei Kirilenko, Dante Cunningham, and Lou Amundson, is that they will have to work, but that’s not something that Mike Dunlap is opposed to.
Kirilenko will be a good test for MKG when he’s out on the perimeter. MKG has played well, but will be go against one of the hardest-working stat-stuffers in the NBA. In fact, I really hope they’re matched up a lot, for basketball reasons.
Two things come to mind when I look at the two backcourts. First, the Bobcats could really make Alexey Shved’s night difficult with the press considering how much he likes to have the ball. Secondly, how do the Wolves contain a guy like Kemba Walker? The second question would be more impactful if Hendo were healthy and Gordon were back too.
As far as the teams are concerned as a whole, I’m not sure what to make of them. The Wolves are 2nd in Opp. eFG% and the Bobcats are 29th; yet the Wolves are missing most of their shooters. Like I mentioned with Shved above, the Wolves can be forced to make mistakes, and the Bobcats have been smart with the ball so far—a trend they’ll need to continue if they want to come away with the win. And offensively, the Bobcats haven’t had a problem scoring, and while the Wolves may not be a great offensive team, they don’t let opponents score either.
If the Bobcats have enough left in the tank, they can win this. I’m hoping for a very competitive game between two scrappy teams. Actually, save for the occasional blowouts, Wolves-Bobcats games have been pretty good, and tonight is shaping up to be a good one.