The Minnesota Timberwolves feature two guys in their starting lineup who the Sixers simply cannot account for. Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic are physical beasts, especially on the offensive glass. They play big, they play strong, they're aggressive, and they're most likely going to eat Lavoy, Hawes and Kwame alive tonight.
Pekovic is a bull in a china shop on the offensive end, and it's virtual impossible to keep Kevin Love off the glass. If the T-Wolves make them the focus of their game plan against the Sixers bigs, it's going to be tough to overcome.
There is some good news, though. Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea are starting together in the backcourt for the Wolves, and Josh Howard is starting at the three (the Sixers really caught a break with AK47 being out).
This game is probably going to be a shootout. Minnesota has been a much better defensive team this season than in years past, but just looking at the matchups, there are so many different mismatches on both sides to exploit. Love is going to be guarding Thad. Barea is going to have to guard either Richardson or Jrue. Ridnour is probably going to spend most of his time on Jrue. Lavoy is going to be trying to keep Pekovic off the glass. Love is going to have Thad on him.
The Sixers have a shot. As usual, it comes down to Jrue. On both ends of the floor. Ridnour is a scrub, but he's a scrub with a specific skill that really hurts the Sixers. He can shoot the long two. He shoots it as good as anyone (51% this season), and that's a shot the Sixers will absolutely give him. PGs who can hit that shot always do well against the Sixers. Beno Udrih immediately comes to mind. He and Ridnour have no chance of penetrating against Jrue. Neither of them shoot the three particularly well, but they can get open 20-footers all night, and they can knock those shots down. I hope the game doesn't come down to 16 points from Ridnour on shots the Sixers are daring him to take.
The good news on the defensive end is the Wolves don't have threats from deep. Double Love and/or Pekovic when they get the ball in or near the paint, and gang rebound on the defensive end. Don't leak out, don't assume the bigs are going to be able to secure the boards, send five guys to the defensive glass, and maybe even faceguard Pekovic and Love with your bigs to keep them off the glass. That has to be the defensive focus.
The tip is at 7pm. Use this as your game thread. 25 and 10 from Jrue in a Sixers win. Too much to ask? And food for thought, why's it taking Rubio so long to get back from the knee injury?