The San Antonio Spurs (29-14) return home from a split road trip as they host the Minnesota Timberwolves in the last matchup of the regular season between the two teams.
Much has changed since these two teams met back in late January. Rookie sensation Ricky Rubio went down with a season ending injury, and the Spurs made a few roster moves as Richard Jefferson was traded to Golden State for Stephen Jackson.
Jackson in particular will be making his return to the AT&T Center while the Spurs will also be celebrating the retiring ceremony of Bruce Bowen’s jersey.
The Timberwolves are fighting to stay in reach of a playoff position, and that was evident as they defeated the Golden State Warriors on the road Monday evening.
Case No. 44: Minnesota Timberwolves (23-24)
Road record: 11-12. Last 10 games: 5-5
Series Leader: Minnesota 2-0
Kevin Love – 25.9 points, 13.7 rebounds, 19.1 FGA (45%), 4.9 3PT FGA (37%) 8.5 FTA (82%)
Love has been a major problem for the Spurs this season as he is averaging 21 points and 15.5 rebounds per game against San Antonio. He’s also coming off a 36-point performance against the Warriors on Monday, and the Spurs’ big men struggled defending Dirk Nowitzki on Saturday. DeJuan Blair in particular, struggled with Nowitzki and it was interesting to see Stephen Jackson and Kawhi Leonard show some production when defending Nowitzki. If Love begins to dominate, then head coach Gregg Popovich might use that method once more.
Nikola Pekovic – 13.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, 9.5 FGA (57%)
Pekovic was a major issue for the Spurs back in January. His numbers increased (14 points, 10 rebounds), especially on the boards, when he faced the Spurs. Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter have been showing a lot more progression as the season has continued, especially Duncan after two days of rest, so the big man battle will be very key in this game.
Michael Beasley – 11.7 points, 10.6 FGA (45%)
As Bowen has his jersey retired, the game will feature Leonard, who is built in the mold of Bowen, so Beasley will once again have to try and free himself from the young poised rookie.
Luke Ridnour – 11.6 points, 1 steals, 9.9 FGA (45%), 2.9 3PT FGA (33%)
If there’s one thing the Spurs need to be concerned with in defending Ridnour, it’s limiting his three point attempts. Ridnour is shooting 67% against the Spurs and his big three’s late in games were major reasons why the Wolves defeated the Spurs. Of course, Ridnour will really have to step up his effort, because most of those open threes were created with Rubio’s creative passing ability. Ridnour also has to defend Tony Parker, who has been rolling week by week.
J.J. Barea – 8.7 points, 8 FGA (37%)
Barea has yet to face the Spurs in a Timberwolves jersey this season, but he can get hot quick and the Spurs know full well of his potential from his rivalry days when he was part of the Dallas Mavericks. Also, I’ll most likely tweet “garden gnome” a few times during the game.
Derrick Williams – 8.7 points, 5 rebounds, 7 FGA (45%)
Williams is showing good production versus the Spurs this season, but like Beasley, he’ll have to get through Leonard and Jackson to reach his 9.5-point average against San Antonio.
- Martell Webster – 6.7 points, 5.1 FGA (44%)
- Wes Johnson – 6.1 points, 6.4 FGA (39%)
- Anthony Randolph – 6 points, 4.8 FGA (50%)
Offense vs. Offense
- 1. Points: Spurs (100.8) – Timberwolves (98.2) = Spurs
- 2. Assists: Spurs (22.3) – Timberwolves (19.4) = Spurs
- 3. Shooting percentage: Spurs (46.7%) – Timberwolves (43.6%) = Spurs
- 4. Three point shooting percentage: Spurs (40.1%) – Timberwolves (33.7%) = Spurs
- 5. Free throw attempts: Spurs (21.9) – Timberwolves (25.9) = Timberwolves
- 6. Turnovers: Spurs (12.9) – Timberwolves (15.2) = Spurs
Offensive Leader: Spurs 5-1
Based on numbers, the Spurs hold the advantage on offense. But, those numbers are skewed as most of those Timberwolves’ numbers were heavily influenced by Rubio’s play. The shots he created for teammates and the effect he had on their offense cannot be put into a statistical category, losing Rubio is a major hit to the franchise this season.
Defense vs. Defense
- 1. Opponent scoring: Spurs (96.8) – Timberwolves (97.7) = Spurs
- 2. Opponent shooting: Spurs (45%) – Timberwolves (45%) = Tie
- 3. Rebounds: Spurs (41.8) – Timberwolves (44.7) = Timberwolves
- 4. Personal Fouls: Spurs (17.3) – Timberwolves (18.9) = Spurs
Defensive Leader: Spurs 2-1
The rebounds will be the main concern for the Spurs as the Timberwolves just gobble them up against San Antonio. It’s not like Love and Pekovic are the tallest big men in the league, but they have a knack for knowing where the ball is going to land.
With Rubio, the Timberwolves presented a tough matchup for San Antonio, but without him it seems the Spurs have too much power in their backcourt and wing positions for the Wolves to handle.
Love and Pekovic will most likely continue to dominate the frontline, but the Spurs’ arsenal of Parker, Manu Ginobili, Danny Green, Gary Neal, Leonard, and Jackson look to be too much.
Throw in the fact that Duncan averages 17 points off two days rest, then the Spurs’ frontline might not be so mismatched. If the Spurs take care of the ball, put pressure on Minnesota to keep up with them offensively, and limit Love and Pekovic to the best of their ability, the Spurs should be closing Bowen’s jersey ceremony with a victory.
Uhmm... I think the Spurs are just fine... I don't know what kind of results you guys are expecting but the Spurs are sort of overachieving with what they have so far. Also all of these big men you have mentioned are scrubs, I would rather have Blair than out of shape Diaw or Turiaf who hasn't played well since 08 and Nocioni is not big enough to play 4, JJ Hickson wanted more money and he would have been a defensive liability anyways. So I don't know what you are talking about!
The spurs are overmatched against the timberwolves. Everytime they play, the wolves are young, eager and exceedingly long. But they have the opportunity to upgrade. They used such reasons as small market, expensive and do not fit, or somebody is injured. Every player is exposed to the same risks. If they lose tonight, I hope it's not because Manu is injured. Mgnt has the responsibility to upgrade the lineup. It exasperating to see them lose but. the coaching staff and the mgnt is not doing its share of the responsibility.. TD is not getting any younger but, they refused to get help. You can only get so muc from your lineup.The market has such players as Turiaf, JJHickson, Nocioni and Diaw. Are making a move? Hardly. So stop bellyaching fans.
I agree with rtesorp440 concerning another "big". Charlotte bought out Diaw...he is friends with TP and we have seen his play in the past. His inability to fit the Silas coached system in Charlotte, I believe, can be overlooked. He could help us! I think we should get him!
Too much has been said about the woes of the spurs - the presnce of another big man to relieve TD in the interior. The spurs seem to encounter some problems in bringing in a power forward or a center. Players seem to avoid the spurs because it is not paying much. Contending is NOT cheap. Some have cited the mavs and the lakers as heavy spenders. But they get results. Certainly it is expensive to get quality players, what did you expect? Most recently some players are made available Turiaf bein g waived by the Nuggets, JJHickson by the Kings, Nocioni by the 76ers and now Boris Diaw by the Bobcats. The market has an abundance of big men. What explanation will the spurs give in not at least getting one of them? Expensive? Small market? Doesn't fit? All these are ALIBIS. I hate to see the spurs loss. When you compete with the best, you have to spend. The spurs are so stingy in spending. It seems they want something free. If they don't want to spend then, stop talking about contending for the championship. Of course these players want money. The nba is a big business and these players are called to give their best. Come on Mr. Buford decide while trhere's still time.