Blazers/T-Wolves Pre-Thoughts


Portland enters must-win territory trying to wrap-up this road trip tonight in Minneapolis. Awaiting are the 18-39 Minnesota Timberwolves. This is a game that Portland has to win to avoid falling down the standings. We’re currently in 5th with a mere game separating us from 8th place. If we want to make noise in the playoffs, we’ll have to get that #4 or #5 spot. I wouldn’t look for much help as New Orleans and Dallas are at home against Milwaukee and Oklahoma City. We have to take care of business on the road.

It should not be that tough considering the opposition. No offense to Minnesota fans but…the T-Wolves are not good. Nope. It’s been a roller coaster year for Minnesota with a lot more lows than highs. Wittman gets fired, in comes McHale. They lose 10 of their first 12 with him as coach. Damn. But January hits they win 5 in a row and end up with one of the better records of the month at 10-4. They might be on to something. Then February hits an all hell breaks loose. Losing and then Al Jefferson goes down (groan) and they look up and they are 2-10 on the month. Yikes.

Now what’s scary and interesting to me is the fact that Minnesota is putting the ball in the hole. In 9 of their 12 contests this month they’ve scored 100+. Normally this would scare me a bit considering the “defense” we’ve been putting on the floor as of late. But before you start sweating think about this. Out of those 9 games in which they have scored 100+ this month they have only won 2 of them. All of this lets me know that despite Big Al being out there is a very real possibility that we could be in for a dogfight tonight. I hope the team is ready.

With Minnesota you have 5 guys you have to worry about and 5 guys only. Their bench is an absolute joke. Brian Cardinal, Craig Smith, Rodney Carney and Kevin Ollie can be efficient but should not cost you a game. Especially not if you’re trying to get to the playoffs. The 5 guys they rely on can hurt you though. Ryan Gomes has absolutely exploded since Jefferson ended up on the sideline. On the month he is averaging 17 and 5 but has scored 20+ in five straight games. Kevin Love (GROAN) has been averaging 13 points and 10 boards ever since McHale has taken over and seems to be getting better and better every night. And Mike Miller, while his shot has gone downhill is playing some of the best all-around basketball of his career. Backing them up are former Blazers Sebastian Telfair and Randy Foye. Get it? Telfair is a threat to penetrate at all times but for some reason has shot 57 three’s in 12 games this month. I welcome Bassy jacking up three’s tonight. Foye? Well I’m just so happy that we got Roy instead of him.

(In all seriousness, Foye can get hot and put the ball in the basket.)

Keys to success:

  • Energy, effort and determination. Portland cannot come out lollygagging tonight. Send a message early. Minnesota has only won 2 games this month and are on a 5 game losing streak at home. Try and jump on them early if possible but realize that tonight could be a dog fight. Play Blazer Basketball.
  • Nothing easy. Tony Parker slicing and dicing us is one thing but letting Telfair, Foye and co. is a completely different story. There’s no excuse to let them get in the paint. No excuse for Minnesota to get second chances or to score off turnovers. Make them earn everything, if we do that we’ll win because we have the superior talent.
  • Don’t let Gomes and Love operate inside. We have the talent to make them work for everything, hassling them into a rough night will make everything a lot easier.

Portland needs this win tonight, can they get it?