This brief 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 opponent, Kevin Love and the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Even though we feel that the Sixers will shake off their disappointing loss to Dallas from the other night — especially that horrid 4thquarter — and handle the Minnesota T-wolves tonight down at the WFC, we still believe this will be an interesting contest. We certainly don’t think it will be another 20 point blow out win by the Sixers as was the case in the two teams previous matchup.
Obviously the Wolves have double-double machine Kevin Love manning the interior and that will present some problems for the 7-6. As we all know the Sixers struggle mightily against talented and strong bigs. Love has been tearing the League apart and will probably abuse the Sixers very weak defensive interior for 30 & 20 tonight. So it will be yet another game where the Sixers have to overcome an all-star performance by an opposing post player to get the win.
Tonight we’re looking for Doug Collins to try and get Louis Williams going. Collins loves him some Louis, but Williams has struggled mightily in 3 of the last 4 games. He hit rock bottom against the Mavs the other night when he went 1-8 and tallied 5 pts. He also got abused by Jason Terry on the other end of the floor.
As well all know, Louis and his scoring punch off the bench have been a huge part of the Sixers success this season and if we want to stay above .500, then he’s going to have to get rolling again. Collins does a great job of recognizing when a player needs a confidence boost and then calling that guy’s number until he’s back on track. So look for the Wolves to get a heavy dose of LouWillville tonight and for the Sixers to win another one at home.
For a little more insight into the Timberwolves team the Sixers face today, we turn to our man Benjamin Polk from awolfamongwolves.com to answer two questions on the Wolves from us here at Philadunkia as well as provide us with two points of analysis on the Minny squad from an insider’s perspective.
Philadunkia : Back in early February the Sixers used a very balanced attack (7 double figure scorers) in our 20 point win over the T-wolves. So what do you think the Wolves will try to do differently defensively Friday night vs. the Sixers?
Benjamin Polk @ awolfamongwolves.com : I’ll give you the answer I give most people about every game. The Wolves’ defensive performance against any team is less a function of any given strategy and more a function of whether they can actually execute that strategy with any energy and consistency. The Wolves tend to do things much too slowly on defense, not because they’re not putting forth the effort, but because they’re just not quick to recognize situations as they develop. They’re thinking out there, as they say.
Philadunkia : From a Wolves perspective, the “experts” seem to love the Brewer for Randolph and Curry deal. What are your thoughts on the deal?
Benjamin Polk @ awolfamongwolves.com : Speaking of defense, the reception for this trade has been decidedly mixed. Brewer was a favorite around these parts because he played with unbelievable passion and a kind of endearing wildness. Just as important, he was also one of only two real NBA defenders on the team (Anthony Tolliver is the other). There were many, many occasions in which he was not only aggressively checking the other team’s top perimeter scorer (Ginobili, Kobe, Carmelo and Durant all felt the pain of Brewer’s serpentine ball pressure) but also covering up for his teammate’s mistakes. So that’s a huge loss.
Anthony Randolph, of course, doesn’t do that. On the other hand, he provides a nice alternative to Darko and Nikola Pekovic at center, especially if the opponent goes with a smaller front line, and greatly improves the overall skill and athleticism of the Wolves’ frontcourt. Plus, they were in desperate need for another player who can create his own shot, and Randolph certainly can do that. But prior to the last three games, Randolph hasn’t played in a year and a half, so he’s still a huge unknown at the moment.
Two Points of Analysis from Benjamin Polk @ awolfamongwolves.com :
1) For the Wolves, just like their last matchup with the Sixers, the key is to slow down Iguodola from scoring a bunch. On Saturday against the Grizzlies Rudy Gay was scoring at will down the stretch. The Wolves were lucky that Jefferson was just as hot but they’ll need to focus in on Iggy tonight to get to 5 in a row.
2) For the Sixers the key is figuring out a way to adjust to the hot hand. The Wolves triangle offense is finally paying dividends and is allowing them to take what the defense gives them. The Wolves are starting to make the right reads and it has allowed them to use a very balanced attack. For instance on Saturday night Gomes went for 20 of his 26 in the first half, Corey went for 13 of his 15 in the 3rd quarter, and Jefferson dominated the 4th going 8 for 8 from the floor. The Sixers will need to find a way to adjust to whoever is hot for the Wolves during each stretch of the game.