Timberwolves vs. Nuggets preview: Scorching hot Ty Lawson, Nuggets seek revenge on beaten-down Timberwolves

J.J. Barea is sick at how fast Ty Lawson actually is. - Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The red-hot Nuggets have now won seven in a row. Tonight, they'll welcome the Minnesota Timberwolves back to the Pepsi Center. What happened the last time they were here? Well...

2012/2013 NBA Regular Season: Game 64
21-37 (7-22 on the road)
2-1 Wolves
41-22 (27-3 at home)
March 9th, 2013 - 7:00 PM (MT)
Pepsi Center - Denver, CO
Altitude / 950 AM / 104.3 FM The Fan
Probable Starters
Luke Ridnour
PG Ty Lawson
Ricky Rubio
SG Andre Iguodala
Mickael Gelabale (???)
SF Danilo Gallinari
Derrick Williams
PF Kenneth Faried
Nikola Pekovic
C Kosta Koufos
Canis Hoopus Blogs Denver Stiffs
Injuries None

Timberwolves have not won a series against Denver since 2003-2004

Stat Nuggets have lost 2 of 3 games to the Timberwolves by a combined 7 points

Why not Canis lupus, you ask? Because this Timberwolves squad has become an unfortunate collection of beaten down dogs, due in large part to numerous serious injuries to their roster.

Through March 4th, the Timberwolves have lost the following player-games due to injury or illness:

Chase Budinger (51), Brandon Roy (51), Kevin Love (39), Malcolm Lee (38), Ricky Rubio (24), Andrei Kirilenko (12), Nikola Pekovic (9), J.J. Barea (7), Alexey Shved (5), Josh Howard (4), Dante Cunningham (1), Lazar Haward (1) ... for a total of 242 games. Yikes.

There are enough zombies on this Timberwolves roster to populate a Walking Dead episode. Kevin Love will attempt to return in "mid march" with Chase Budinger and Brandon Roy (I'll believe that when I see it), and Andrei Kirilenko will be out until "at least March 13th at Indiana" - which seems oddly specific, but sure, why not. PG Malcolm Lee is out for the season due to a chrondal knee injury. Had things gone differently, the Timberwolves seemed poised to make a run at the playoffs, and I certainly now feel a bit embarrassed that I picked them for the 8th seed back in October 2012 (not as embarrassed as Nate Timmons and Jeff Morton picking the Lakers to win the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, though!).

Ultimately, this is a decimated group limping through the remainder of the season. Which is actually something that worries me, since we've seen that the Nuggets have an unsettling habit of lackadaisically approaching competition they regard as inferior. We've seen it in the two losses to the Wizards and the home loss to the Timberwolves on January 3rd. Amazingly, that one terrible game is the Nuggets only home loss to the Western Conference this season (14-1). That's right, Nuggets fans, the only team in the West that's been able to crack the Nuggets diamond-tough home performance is this lowly Timberwolves squad.

A few months later, however, this Nuggets team is vastly different than the one the Timberwolves faced on January 3rd. Back then, the Nuggets were just 18-16, 2 games over .500. Now, the Nuggets are 41-22, 19 games over .500 (going 23-6 in the span). Ty Lawson's found his stride and his stroke, and is balling on a "Who's Chris Paul?" level. Danilo Gallinari is rounding back into shape after his thigh contusion, Andre Iguodala has seemed to figure out his place in the offense, and we're getting better and better play from JaVale McGee, to say nothing of Kenneth Faried's steady stream of double doubles.

While I'd hate to jinx this team (fingers crossed, salt over shoulder), this should be a game that the Nuggets win handily. Lacking the overrated Kevin Love, mostly-bone Brandon Roy and scarecrow-related Andrei Kirilenko, the Timberwolves will need to rely on Ricky "I Can't Shoot" Rubio, man-mountain Nikola Pekovic and speedster J.J. Barea to carry the load. The Nuggets - hopefully - have learned their lesson about taking this team lightly, even with its myriad injuries, and should be able to put this game away by the third quarter. We certainly don't want to see J.J. Barea score 12 of 17 points in the 4th to carry the Wolves to victory - again.

Canis Hoopus

Save the Date - 3/19 March Madness Stiffs Night Out!

Our ninth Stiffs Night Out is right around the corner!

On Tuesday, March 19th we're going to kick off March Madness by watching the Nuggets take on the Thunder in Oklahoma City at 6pm from Jake's Food & Spirits. Free appetizers and 2-for-1 drinks will be served.

We will be distributing NCAA brackets for $10, with all of the proceeds going to the Denver Hooperz, a local non-profit that provide after school basketball programs to at-risk youth. Prizes - including Nuggets tickets - will be given out to bracket winners. Also, the Colorado Sports Guys (Nate Timmons and Ross Martin) will be live podcasting throughout the event - and it's Nate's birthday!

Please RSVP here or on our Facebook event page. And we'll see you on the 19th!

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