Pacers-Timberwolves Preview: Are the Pacers Bouncing Back? They Look To Go For Another Win Against Minny, Plus Q&A with Mike Reynolds of T-Wolves Blog

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The Indiana Pacers were in a hole. A very deep one. They were on a big losing streak, with only nine wins and about 21 or 22 losses. It was not good, not at all. But the Pacers broke a very-long losing streak as they snapped it with a win over the Timberwolves to go on towards their tenth win of the season.

Roy Hibbert, who has been impressive entering his second year, and Luther Head, a great pickup the Pacers made of him in the offseason, were the heros of that game.

And now, just a few days ago, the Pacers beat the Orlando Magic: a team nobody thought Indiana would be. And by nobody, I really mean nobody. And again, Hibbert was the hero of that game as well, notching 26 points.

Now, it seems like the Pacers are turning it around. No, really, they are. Seriously. And now the Pacers can go on a winning streak. And with Granger coming back soon, the losing streaks can end. Especially those long-ass losing streaks.

As you can tell by the comparison-stats chart up there, it seems that they are very alike. The records don’t make much of a difference. I mean, Minnesota can actually win this game, you never know. Minny can end their five-game losing streak.

ESPN Accuscore picks Minnesota to win in this home game, a 53% chance. But again, sometimes Accuscore is proven wrong. The Orlando game…way off! The Pacers will be going with different lineup; starting Earl Watson at PG, Luther Head at SG, Mike Dunleavy at SF, Josh McRoberts at PF, and Roy Hibbert at C. When Granger comes back, it’ll change a bit. But it’s weird starting McRoberts. But it might change. Troy Murphy could make a return for the game and he might start. But if he doesn’t, he and Josh might switch off.

My prediction: Pacers win by 5-20 points in this game.Make sure to check out the live blog here at the site for some awesome analysis of the game. Chat there as well. Will start at 7:30!

For further analysis of the Timberwolves, I ask Mike Reynolds, columnist of Twolvesblog.com, for some questions of the game.

indyJosh Dhani: The Pacers beat the Wolves in the last meeting. What did you think of them in that game?

Mike Reynolds: Well, our local TV partners have made the wonderful decision to only televise around 50 games this year on our local TV stations. With that said, the only way to watch this game is to stream it live from a laptop (which, personally I can’ watch TV on a computer screen, just can’t do it) via some drug cartel in Cambodia, or purchase NBA League pass (my route) to catch the majority of the remaining games that are not televised. In this case, BOTH Pacer games were not televised locally in Minneapolis. Tonight’s will not even be on League Pass. However, with the magic of DVR I did catch part of the last game. The Pacer’s were beaten down, yet they whooped us. I made the following important notes: Jim O’Brien for some reason appears to always have this devilish, mischievous grin on his face. A sinister man. I wonder what his deal is? However, I think the Pacers have some nice pieces. Hibbert owned our front line. Dunleavy can shoot when he is healthy. Granger is obviously a nice piece. I worry a little about Granger’s ability to make the team a winner but he is certainly a top scoring wing. As for the game. I honestly did not watch too closely. I think the Wolves tend to out think themselves sometimes (which isn’t surprising considering our system), and your guys just stepped up undermanned and killed us.

JD: What do you think the Pacers need to do to win this game?

MR: Basketball wise, three things need to happen: 1. Keep Love off the glass (impossible). 2.  If you can, just pass around the perimeter, and keep going until your best shooter is likely going to be wide open. You could probably win tonight by scoring in increments in of three. 3. Simply not fall for what I have termed as of right now “Jonny Flynn’s middle-of-the-lane seizures.” The guy will dribble into the lane, shake uncontrollably in a series of moves, will likely dribble right, get smashed by a defender and not get the bailout call. So, the choice is Hibbert’s: a. Just stand there, frozen, and watch in horror/confusion as Jonny shakes around, panics, and turns it over, or b. Wait for him to drive and smash him without any repercussion. I guess I shouldn’t be talking about this like it is a strength of the Wolves so I will just end there.

JD: What is your prediction for Minnesota this year?

MR: Well, I have started out this Q & A in a pretty negative light. But I think the Wolves could mirror last year’s record of 24-58 if they tried. Wait where is the optimism? In my season preview I predicted 30 wins, which is obviously outrageous at this point, along with most Wolves fans’ homerisms. All in all, I have to say when the Wolves have it going they are extremely entertaining to watch. Tons of dunks, Love is a beast and easily more valuable than Al Jefferson at this point. Brewer is having a nice year and his shot has gotten at least somewhat dependable in the mid range game. Up-tempo basketball definitely fits most of the team, with the exception of our ”franchise player” Al Jefferson, so it will be interesting to see if he remains with the squad long term.

JD: With only seven wins this year, is this what you thought about Minny before the season even started?

MR: As I mentioned above, I predicted 30 wins. We won’t scratch that win mark. On a less-macro level, it was obvious Love was going to put up huge numbers. I didn’t think Al would have such a slow start either, and I expected Flynn to be a better passer and playmaker, and I never imagined Brewer would average 12 PPG in the NBA.

JD: How did you feel about the controversy surrounding Ricky Rubio this offseason?

MR: Well, it was great for our city. I was at the Draft Party at Target Center this year and the whole place went nuts when Sacramento took Tyreke Evans and left us with Rubio. I think that people in this city want to enjoy basketball and Ricky would have brought back the interest. It remains to be seen whether he will ever play here, but we own his rights and gave up hardly a thing to get them. However, Tyreke wouldn’t have been that bad either!

JD: Al Jefferson is back, what do you expect from him this year?

MR: I expected more thus far in all honesty. Knee injuries seem tough ( I wouldn’t know, unless you count shin splints), but he is finally starting to come back as of late. He is extremely effective in the post, but take a crack at his moves tonight if you can. He often settles for an off-balance jump hook that rarely drops. He is best with finesse moves when he barrels closer to the basket. I think once his confidence is back in full he will put up similar numbers. I see him on a similar level as Granger, a guy who will continue to get criticized for not making his teammates better and just puts up impressive scoring numbers on a bad-to-mediocre team.

JD: What do you see out of Jonny Flynn in the future?

MR: Certainly not a Chris Paul clone but a nice shoot first point guard. He needs to get better at looking for teammates on drives and on fast breaks, and often times takes one too many “heat check” shots. I think his 3 point shot has been an underrated tool, but he turns the ball over and makes way too many bone-headed plays. His ability to get into the lane is a nice addition, but he isn’t getting the benefit of the whistle at all, and he isn’t converting a lot of bunnies. He is a nice player, but I haven’t quite seen the “star” potential that we were all lead to believe he had. Back when we first acquired Marbury, he would exhibit frequent flashes of the (troubled) star he would ultimately become even during his rookie year. I just haven’t seen that from Jonny yet. At all. Not really even one play. Not one moment where you think “this kid is going to be special.” His game is pull- up jumpers, a lot of turnovers, and a LOT of garbage time points. But he has a nice game here and there.

JD: What is your prediction for the game?

MR: Well, I think it may be tough to beat us tonight. I have said that about our last three opponents unfortunately. I think the Wolves will put forth a better effort than last time and we will have a close one. The Wolves will win it tonight 104-101.

JD: What’s your prediction for the Finals?

MR: The Lakers will win again (gag me), but the East team is harder to predict. Until the Cavs can run a real offense they will continue to underachieve. The Hawks aren’t ready, the Celtics could get banged up again, so dare I say a grudge match with the Lakers sweeping Orlando 4-0?

Very interesting pick Mike on the Finals…but anyways, I appreciate you stopping by my man. Check out Mike’s work at Twolvesblog.com, probably the best Minnesota Timberwolves blog out there.

It looks like a good game. Stay tuned for the live chat, comes up at 7:30 (no, not in the morning…).

Buy Josh Dhani’s latest book: featuring Trey Kerby of the Blowtorch, Graham Brunell of Celtics17, Nick Gelso of North Station Sports, Jonathan Mathis of Sports Nation, Krishna Dhani of Pacers4Life and Krishna’s World, and Michael Whittenburg of Bleacher Report.

Topics: Indiana Pacers, Minnesota Timberwolves, NBA

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