MINNEAPOLIS – The Timberwolves held their final practice on Thursday before the regular season begins Friday night at home against the Kings. Finally.
They’ll be one of seven teams come Friday that have yet to play a game and the only Western Conference team that won’t have taken the court. If it weren’t for the Knicks-Nets cancellation, the Timberwolves would have been one of only five teams yet to debut.
It’s been a long week. There isn’t much left to discuss. Kevin Love is still hurt. So is Ricky Rubio. Luke Ridnour (back) is doing well, and both he and Brandon Roy (knee) are in fighting shape for Friday’s game. So there’s all that, which has been the status quo all week, and little else.
Coach Rick Adelman said he has yet to set the final starting lineup for the Kings game. There was no significance, he said, to Derrick Williams wearing a white starter’s jersey at Thursday’s practice – Malcolm Lee was wearing one, too, and he’s certainly not going to be lining up on the court to begin the game.
There’s likely to be no news on that front until Friday’s morning shootaround, though the power forward spot is the one that’s most up for debate. Ridnour, Roy, Andrei Kirilenko and Nikola Pekovic seem like locks for the other four starting jobs.
The Kings: Sacramento kicked off its season Tuesday night with a loss in Chicago and a particularly gruesome Aaron Brooks dive that resulted in a chipped tooth. The Kings hardly looked threatening, losing 93-87 to a Derrick Rose-less Bulls, but that’s not to say the Timberwolves have a gimme. The Kings are young and “greedy to get a win, greedy to prove themselves,” in the words of Kirilenko, and they’ll present a set of challenges.
The upside is that they’re a raw team without the Timberwolves’ talent level. Their best player, center DeMarcus Cousins, was a turnover machine on Wednesday, and Pekovic seems perfectly suited to contain him well. The Timberwolves have the momentum and the home crowd, and more than anything, they’ll need a win Friday night.
Not so much for their record, but for morale. Opening against the Kings, especially with a shorthanded roster, is one of the best gifts the NBA could have given them.