The 2010-11 season is here. No, it is here. It is like three months old in fact. Why am I still doing an NBA preview? The season is underway and we can finally stop conjecturing and start making sense of this summer of upheaval. So let’s continue thinking and previewing 2011 and all the hope and promise that comes with it.
Jeff Clark of CelticsBlog.com organized the NBA Blog Preview at the beginning of the year, consisting of all the best basketball blogs across the Internet, to help everyone get ready. I am trying to keep up and give a Magic-centered look at each team being previewed.
Last Year: 15-67, Missed Playoffs (currently 9-30)
Last Year vs. Magic: Won 106-94 in Minneapolis (Jan. 1); Won 106-97 in Orlando (March 26)
This Year vs. Magic: Nov. 3 in Orlando (W 128-86); Jan. 15 in Minneapolis (8 p.m.)
Magic Connection: Darko Milicic (Player, 2006-07); Assistant Coach Dave Wohl (Coach, 1999-2004); Assistant Coach Reggie Theus (Player, 1989-90)
Minnesota is a tough cookie to solve. Yes, they are bad. But they still have some decent players. They just are not a team.
Michael Beasley was sent to frigid north and has played extremely well after listing lazily through Miami. Beasley likes having the ball in his hands and is taking advantage of it.
But this team is all about the magnificent play of Kevin Love.
Few players have stood out as much as Love this season. His 30/30 game is an epic accomplishment that the NBA has not seen in quite a long time. It seems like he grabs 20 rebounds every other week. The guy just has great instincts and an ability to get the ball. He and Dwight Howard are clearly the two best rebounders in the NBA.
But other than that, this is still a team in disarray.
Aside from Beasley, who you can argue is a decent go to player, there is not much going on for this team. Jonny Flynn, last year’s big point guard pick as the team waits for Ricky Rubio, has been in and out of the lineup and the D-League. Rookie Wesley Johnson is turning into something of a sharpshooter. Corey Brewer is still a mystery after knee surgery. And there is not much of a bench.
The Minnesota rebuilding project has been a dirty, messy process. And it is hard to tell which direction it will go. It seems like every player is available in some trade that will allegedly keep the team moving forward. And that includes Love who just cannot seem to get his coach’s favor.
Unfortunately for Minnesota, it appears the team has very little coherent direction and is going to limp onward this year.
How the Timberwolves will beat the Magic: Are the Magic going to get sick again before Saturday? Seriously, that might be the only way to do it, short of Kevin Love grabbing every rebound possible in the game (is that the next feat for him?).
Minnesota has virtually no matchup advantages over Orlando and so there is not much chance.
One area Minnesota could go to get a win Saturday is to go inside and use its size to try and get Orlando into foul trouble.
Darko Milicic is playing as well as he did for the Magic, which is to say as well as he has throughout his career. Pairing him with Kevin Love gives the Timberwolves something of an advantage inside considering the Magic are still kind of thin in the front court. It is not much of one because of what Dwight Howard can do.
But if the Timberwolves are to win, they have to keep Howard off the floor. This might be the only way to do it.
How the Magic will beat the Timberwolves: Really Orlando has to stay patient and play its game so that its talent and discipline will overwhelm Minnesota. That is what the Magic did in their 42-point victory in November.
But that was the Vince Carter/Rashard Lewis team, and that might play into Minnesota’s advantage. This is a different Magic team that is still growing and gelling and learning how to play together. But it should not matter much.
Even if Orlando is not playing defense effectively yet, a patient offense and Dwight Howard on defense alone should be enough to secure a win. The Timberwolves are just not anywhere near the Magic’s league.