The disappointing Brooklyn Nets (3-8) continue their mini-road trip Friday night when they head up north to face the Minnesota Timberwolves (7-6). Minnesota is looking to return to the playoffs this season for the first time since Kevin Garnett was wearing their uniform and they have gotten off to a solid start, but have lost 2 in a row. The Nets have lost 3 in a row and 6 out of their last 7. Their only win was a Joe Johnson buzzer-beater in overtime.
Injuries: For the Nets, we have the same old story tonight with a bunch of injuries. Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Andrei Kirilenko, and Jason Terry will all miss the game. The Timberwolves are finally healthy for the first time this year and they are hoping it stays that way. The only players who are out are Shabazz Muhammad, Ronny Turiaf, and Chase Budinger.
Shaun Livingston vs. Ricky Rubio. Advantage: Rubio
Rubio’s scoring numbers have been down this year, but that does not mean that he is not a good offensive player. He is probably one of the best 5 passers in the game and is averaging nearly 9 apg. Livingston is going to need to play a ton of minutes again tonight with Deron Williams out. Hopefully all this playing time doesn’t wear down on him. I’m worried that is going to happen soon.
Joe Johnson vs. Kevin Martin. Advantage: Martin
Kevin Martin is arguably the best shooter in the NBA and is shooting an unbelievable 31/66 from 3 this year, nearly 50%. He was a great offseason pick up for the T-Wolves and fits in perfectly with their up-tempo offense. With some of the injuries, Joe Johnson needs to be more consistent on offense and not disappear for stretches of the game.
Paul Pierce vs. Corey Brewer. Advantage: Pierce
Brewer was another offseason addition that has worked out great so far for Minnesota. He is one of the best slashers in the game and he loves running out on outlet passes from Kevin Love for easy baskets. His corner 3’s are also dangerous in a half-court offense. Pierce has looked uninterested in the last couple of games. He is definitely in a slump and he needs to get out of it soon.
Kevin Garnett vs. Kevin Love. Advantage: Love
Kevin Love is arguably the MVP of the NBA so far, averaging 25 ppg, 13 rpg, and 5 apg. He is the do-it-all offensive player as he is a great shooter from any range, he gets a lot of offensive rebounds and put-backs, and he is also one of the best passing big guys in the league. Kevin Garnett returns to his first time tonight, the Timberwolves. Hopefully this will wake him up out of his season-long slump.
Reggie Evans vs. Nikola Pekovic. Advantage: Pekovic
For some reason, Jason Kidd continues starting Reggie Evans with Brook Lopez out, although Andray Blatche and Mason Plumlee will probably get more playing time than Reggie. Pekovic has been a Nets-killer in the past with his big, punishing body. The Nets couldn’t box out the Bobcats on Wednesday, so I doubt they will be able to keep Pekovic off the boards.
Bold prediction: The Timberwolves will score more than 20 fast break points. This team loves to get out and run and the Nets hate getting back. That’s a bad combination.
Score prediction: Minnesota 113, Nets 95. I don’t think this is a very good matchup, especially with all of Brooklyn’s injuries and it doesn’t help that it is on the road. I expect Minnesota to win pretty easily.