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Game Preview: Washington Wizards at Minnesota Timberwolves (Key Match Up, Notes, and Prediction)

Nov 19, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love (42) dribbles the ball as Washington Wizards power forward Nene Hilario (42) defends in the fourth quarter at Verizon Center. The Wizards won 104-100. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Wizards had five days to rest and reflect on their three game win streak, but they’ll be back at it tonight against the Minnesota Timberwolves on the road. The game will tip off at 8:00 PM from the Target Center. It’ll be broadcasted nationally on NBA TV.

Key Match Up:

Marcin Gortat and Nene make up one of the most underrated frontcourts in the NBA, but they’ll certainly have their hands full against Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic. Love and Pekovic are coming off their most impressive games of the season, but it unfortunately ended in a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. Love scored 45 points to go along side 19 rebounds, while Pekovic contributed with 34 of his own points and 14 rebounds. Minnesota started their season on a high note, but they’ve currently slipped in the Western Conference which is something they can’t afford if they want to make the postseason. Love is having a season that deserves Most Valuable Player Consideration, but his team hasn’t been winning lately. Love is one of the best rebounding bigs the NBA has ever seen, and his ability to knock down perimeter shots as well as pass the ball makes him the most skilled big man in the league.

Trevor Booker has started for the Wizards in the past three games, with Nene coming off the bench, so he’ll have to continue crashing the boards like he has been recently. Booker is no Kevin Love, but he does possess the energy and hustle to make Love work for it on the glass. Nene has never been terrific in the rebounding category, but Marcin Gortat makes up for it. All of Washington’s bigs have to make Minnesota work for their rebounds, or it’ll be a long night for the Wizards. Kevin Love will inevitably get his 12+ rebounds, so it’s important that the Wizards keep the rest of Minnesota’s bigs at bay.

Notes:

  • If the Wizards win tonight, they’ll sport a .500 record for the second time this season.
  • Washington has a chance to win four straight road games tonight, which they haven’t done since 2009.
  • Trevor Ariza scored 27 points in Washington’s last game against the Boston Celtics, but he wasn’t available the last time the Wizards met the Timberwolves earlier in the season. Martell Webster started and scored 17 points to go along side 9 rebounds. He also knocked down 5-three point shots.
  • Kevin Martin was held to just 4 for 17 shooting that night.

Prediction:

If the Wizards were to lose tonight, I’d still consider their four game road trip a success, given the fact that they managed to win three straight away from home.

With that said, I don’t think the Wizards will beat the Timberwolves at the Target Center tonight. Kevin Love is having a monster season, and even though the Wizards were able to beat the Wolves earlier this year despite Love’s great performance, I can’t see them repeating that on the road. Minnesota realizes that they’ll have to beat teams like the Wizards at home in order to get back into playoff contention. Kevin Martin hasn’t been very good lately, and he’s due for a breakout game.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Wizards come out on top, but it’ll take a lot from their backcourt. Bradley Beal and Nene are still on limited minutes, which adds some pressure on the bench to perform. John Wall can’t fall in love with his jump shot tonight if the Wizards want to compete. Nene and Gortat have to have outstanding games to stay afloat against Love and Pekovic, and I don’t see all of that happening. Although the Timberwolves aren’t terrific defensively, they’re one of the best offensive teams in the NBA and we’ve seen the Wizards struggle against high powered offenses this season.

Topics: Kevin Love, Marcin Gortat, Nba Game Preview, Nene, Nikola Pekovic, Washington Wizards, Wizards Timberwolves

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