Wizards vs. Timberwolves preview: Meet slumping Minnesota

USA TODAY Sports

The Timberwolves are banged-up and slumping, so this is a great opportunity for the Wizards to pick up a road win.

This was supposed to be the year the Minnesota Timberwolves surged into playoff contention. Instead, Kevin Love got hurt, Ricky Rubio's recovery from last year's torn ACL went slower than expected and key contributors like Andrei Kirilenko, Nikola Pekovic, Chase Budinger and others continue to miss various amounts of time with different ailments. A fully-healthy Minnesota team probably is as good as sixth-seeded Golden State, if not better. Sadly for Minnesota fans, they'll rarely, if ever, actually see that team.

The team that's left, meanwhile, has lost 18 of their last 21 games. This is definitely a winnable game for the Wizards.

Where and when? Target Center, 8 p.m., CSN.

Who's out? Bradley Beal is doubtful for the Wizards. Pretty much everyone is hurt for Minnesota. More specifically, Love, Brandon Roy and Budinger are out for a while, and Pekovic and Kirilenko won't play tonight.

Are they good? They're terrible now. As noted: 18 of their last 21 games have been losses.

Why should I care? John Wall vs. Ricky Rubio is always fun. Amid the losing, Rubio has started to find himself a bit, averaging nine and a half assists in February. He still has problems shooting and finishing around the rim, but he's starting to get his timing and zip back. Rubio is also a tough, smart defensive player, so Wall will need to make good decisions and not get sucked into Rubio's tricks.

What are they good at? When healthy, this is a powerful inside team that gets a lot of free throws and offensive rebounds. Problem is, Kirilenko and Pekovic are most responsible for that, and they're not playing. They also have very good defensive guards in Rubio and Alexey Shved, though they often don't play as much because the Timberwolves also have Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea.

What are they bad at? This is a brutal shooting team. Only Charlotte has a worse effective field goal percentage this season. Timberwolves fans have become accustomed to their team bricking open mid-range and three-point jumpers.

What's up with Derrick Williams? With Love injured, Williams has been given a chance to play power forward. He still has plenty of warts, but he's also shown a lot of growth with his shooting efficiency and decision-making. Williams has scored at least 20 points in five of his last eight games, including a 25-point, 10-rebound performance against Miami on Monday. Getting a lot of minutes and shots has helped, but teams looking to snag an undervalued player should be keeping an eye on Williams.

Where can I read more about the Timberwolves? Check out Canis Hoopus.

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