NBA

DIME PREVIEW: Grizz vs. T-Wolves

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The Deal

During March Madness, the NBA is often overshadowed, but it doesn¿t mean that there aren¿t great games going down. Basketball fans eat up matchups where the current big thing takes on the next big thing, as evidenced by the NBA world¿s fascination with ¿s battles with the ¿next Jordans,¿ like Kobe, T-Mac, and Iverson. Tonight gives us the opportunity to see a similar passing of the torch, as battles a second-year player who could someday take a similar role of leadership on his team, . Closer inspection reveals that the Spanish forward is on his way to being in a few years what the Big Ticket is now ¿ a leading MVP candidate.

The Weapons

Ever since Hubie Brown took over the fledgling , the team has played with intensity. After losing his first five, Brown has gone 24-28, showing that this team isn¿t far from being playoff contenders. In fact, this may be the hottest team in the League, having won six in a row. The truth is that Hubie had some chips to play with on the team, including the reigning Rookie of the Year, . Gasol is a ferocious offensive player going to the hoop, as well as a talented passer, solid rebounder, and ridiculous shot blocker. Pau wasn¿t playing as much at the beginning of Hubie¿s regime because his defense can use some work, but he has stepped it up and is now the leader of this blossoming young team. In addition, Brown had flashy point guard . Nobody thought the two would get along, but White Chocolate has played the best ball of his career, crediting Brown as his mentor. has been solid when given the minutes, and still has the knack for the big play, as the discovered when he banked in a four-point play against them. The biggest reason for ¿ latest surge? , who has contributed six straight double-doubles (all wins) in ¿s absence. Add in recent acquisition , and you have a pretty solid nucleus for the future.

What can we say about KG that hasn¿t been said? The dude just keeps carrying his team to higher levels. This may be his finest effort, as it¿s one of his weaker supporting casts, and yet he has the T-Wolves primed to perhaps get home-court in the playoffs. Most recently, Garnett was named Western Conference Player of the Month for February, in which went 12-1, the best record in a month in team history. He had his 11th career triple double in a win over Portland the other night in which eight Wolves scored over eight points in a balanced effort. Garnett¿s main running mate is the temperamental Wally Sczerbiak, who has been plagued by injuries but is still averaging about 17 points and five boards. ¿s numbers have been climbing too; he averages about 15 points and six dimes now and his numbers have been steadily climbing. has been a serviceable center, leading the team in blocks. Garnett has some help, although when it comes right down to it, without a supreme individual performance from the Big Ticket, the Wolves aren¿t going anywhere.

The Drama

Gasol has showed flashes of the type of skill set (minus the three-pointers) that Garnett has developed throughout his career. The team is built around him, and he has the makings of absolute stardom. In addition, he has the teammates around him that really may be able to get it done someday. For the time being, however, has been playing pretty good ball. They came a bit down to earth after their incredible February, but have still played some pretty solid teams to a standstill. The Garnett/Gasol matchup should be outstanding. takes this one, being that they¿re very good at home, but Jerry West is on the right track with his young team. Someday soon, the could be right up there with on the second tier of Western Conference hierarchy.

The Prediction

T-Wolves, 106-98

Tagged: Knicks, Grizzlies, Pau Gasol, Minnesota, Brown, Portland

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