02/09/10 3:42 pm EST
This edition of “Fo’ with the Foes” — Philadunkia’s advanced scouting series which with the help of an accomplished journalist from around the NBA beat or blog world, previews upcoming 76ers opponents — features tonight’s opponents, the Minnesota Timberwolves, who like the Sixers, have won four straight coming into tonight.
Minnesota is responsible for the arguably the Sixers most embarrassing loss of the year. In a season full of bad Ls for the Sixers, that’s really saying something. If you think back to that MLK Day matinee game, you’ll remember that Jonny Flynn torched the Sixers for 29; “Big Al” Jefferson put up 23 & 13; and Ryan Gomes scored 14 of his 16 in a wild 3rd quarter as Philadunkia’s home team blew a 20-point lead and lost 108-103 in OT. Ohh yeah, we forgot to mention that the T-Wolves won without big man Kevin Love that game. Embarrassing does not begin to describe what happened in Minny that day.
Okay, so now that we’vehad our history lesson, let’s talk about tonight’s game. We expect a high scoring affair tonight as the game will feature two of the worst defensive units in the NBA. Minnesota is giving up 106.5 ppg. on the season, the third highest opponents scoring average in the League. The 76ers are allowing nearly 100 ppg., which ranks Philadunkia’s home team 14th in the NBA in opponents’ scoring average.
The biggest question for us regarding tonight’s game is how will the Sixers attempt to defend the T-Wolves’ Jonny Flynn, while also keeping the big-man tandem of Al Jefferson and Kevin Love in check and not allowing Corey Brewer many open looks? It’s a tall order and it’s not one we think the Sixers can handle, but here’s how we would do it.
First you have to lock-down Flynn as he is the key to the Wolves offense. So Jordan should simply take Jrue Holiday and play the Sixers rookie every minute of the game that Flynn is on the floor. Hopefully, Holiday’s fantastic on-ball defense will keep Flynn out of the paint and thus limit the number of easy looks the Wolves rookie gets. If Holiday can keep Flynn out of the lane, it should restrict the number of bunnies that Jefferson and Love put in off of Flynn assists or follows. Additionally, keeping a wrap on Flynn should cut down on the wide open 3-ball looks for Brewer, who is quickly becoming a feared long-range shooter in this League, as the drive and kick to an open shooter scenario will not be available to Flynn. Once Flynn is dealt with, you then use the Sixers deep list of bigs – Brand, Sammy D, Speights and Jason Smith to make Love and “Big Al” work hard for every basket. Finally, you assign Iguodala the task of guarding Brewer.
Let’s hope Jordan has learned something from the brutal loss in Minnesota back in mid-January and doesn’t make the same boneheaded coaching mistakes he made on that day — like guarding the ultra quick Flynn with Iverson and Louis. Additionally, let’s pray that the Sixers players come out fired up and hungry to avenge their brutal loss to the T-wolves back in January. We like the Sixers to win the game tonight. The Wolves in general can not shoot, play no defense, struggle mightily from three-ville (32.9%) and their two premiere bigs are very slow. Plus we have the whole revenge thing going for us. So if everything goes according to our plan tonight, the Sixers will extend their W streak to 5-games and unfortunately keep Jordan’s job on life support.
For a little more insight into the Timberwolves team the Sixers face today, we turn to our man Patrick Hodgdon from howlintwolf.com to answer two questions on the Wolves from us here at Philadunkia as well as provide us with two points of analysis on this Minny squad from an insider’s perspective.