Taking a look at the next few games for the Wolves, on Friday night at Target Center they’ve got the New York Knicks, who are led by Amare Stoudamire coming over from Phoenix in the big move for him to the Big Apple. He’s very athletic and one of the elite power forwards in the NBA — Kevin Love’s going to have his hands full with him. Also, another new face for the Knicks is Raymond Felton — he came over from Charlotte and I don’t know if he fits with coach Mike D’Antoini’s style of play, but he’s a young point guard, he’s got some promise and he’s leading the charge. Look for a lot of 3-pointers and trying to get the ball down to Stoudamire. That’s what the Knicks like to do, so the Wolves will have their hands full with pretty young New York team.
On the 14th, the Wolves are at Atlanta, one of the elite Eastern Conference teams. They’re right behind those top four teams in the NBA — the Lakers, Miami, Orlando and Boston. They’re off to a solid start this season. There aren’t really a lot big stars on this team — they’re kind of a true team. One of their top players is Joe Johnson, a 6-foot-8 shooting guard and a real good outside shooter. He’ll be a tough matchup for Wesley Johnson, I would assume. Corey Brewer will guard him a little bit as well, but if Wesley starts it’s going to be his responsibility to check Joe Johnson.
Another player that Atlanta likes to use is Josh Smith. He’s kind of a power forward type of guy — at 6-9 he’s a lot like Stoudamire in some ways, kind of a high flyer, likes to dunk, likes to block shots. He’s not a great outside shooter, but he’s still athletic and likes to run the floor — that’s one of his strengths.
The next night the Wolves travel to Charlotte for the second game of a back-to-back situation on the 15th. Michael Jordan is the owner there. The Bobcats made the playoffs last spring but they’ve kind of underachieved so far this year. Their coach, Larry Brown, is notorious for rebuilding teams and then taking off and leaving town to join some other team that needs a lift. But he sticking around, and even though they haven’t gotten off to a very good start this year they have some high hopes.
It’s going to be interesting to see how they match up with the Wolves, because they go a lot with a pretty small lineup by NBA standards. They like to use Stephen Jackson, Gerald Wallace — that kind of shooting guard/small forward, multidimensional type of player. Wesley Johnson, Brewer, Wayne Ellington if he’s healthy, and even Michael Beasley will match up with those guys.
Boris Diaw is another player that’s kind of a multidimensional guy on that roster for the Bobcats. He’s a tough matchup as well, so if they go small, it’ll be interesting to see how the Wolves play. They could put Kevin Love at the center spot, Beasley at four to match up with Diaw and then even Brewer and Wesley Johnson at the two and three positions.