The Timberwolves head back on the road this weekend for a pair of games in New Orleans and Atlanta.  The latest buzz surrounding a team that seems to have endless buzz so far this season is who’s starting.  Slow starts the last few games have plagued the team and Coach Rick Adelman is hinting that changes may be coming.

The slow starts kind of came to a head Wednesday night against the Bulls.  A 24 point deficit put the team in a massive hole.  Last year’s MVP Derrick Rose was very MVP-like scoring 31 points and adding 11 assists.  Even though the Wolves came roaring back and were in the game late in the 4th quarter, it was enough to make the team think about tinkering with the lineup.  That seems to start with rookie sensation Ricky Rubio who more than held his own against Rose.  Rubio led a 20-2 run to end the 2nd quarter and again led the team with 12 assists.

Ricky Rubio Says Team Must Get Off to a Better Start

Kevin Love Talks About Ricky Rubio Providing a Spark

Last week on the Timberwolves Update, we shared that the Wolves were much more efficient with Ricky Rubio playing instead of on the bench.  The Bulls game only increased that.  Rubio has played more 4th quarter minutes than any other player in the NBA.  He’s playing at the end of the game because the team is much more efficient with Rubio on the floor.  Rubio is a very solid +52 when he’s on the floor which leads all Wolves players and is ranked 41st in the NBA.  When you consider the Wolves are only 3-7, ranking 41st in the league is remarkable.

ricky rubio 1 Timberwolves Update

(credit: David Sherman/Contributor Getty Images)

So is it time to start Ricky Rubio?  Coach Adelman is still not committing, saying only “I haven’t made any decisions with that yet”.  With the Wolves playing at New Orleans Friday night, we’ll have to wait and see.  But it does seem imminent.

Part of what may be holding back these changes are injuries.  Michael Beasley’s mid-foot sprain looks like it will keep him out for the foreseeable future.  J.J. Barea has been battling a hamstring injury then he rolled his ankle against the Bulls Wednesday.  Neither player made the trip to New Orleans.

The Wolves are still without center Brad Miller who had knee surgery in the off-season and second round pick Malcolm Lee who had knee surgery and isn’t expected back for about a month.  Miller would add some much needed depth at the center position and Lee looked like he could provide some bench depth with the way he played in the preseason.

Plus Martell Webster, who the Wolves claimed from Portland a year ago, has been out following back surgery.  Webster has battled injuries his entire career and while he’s a promising young player, he hasn’t shown he can stay healthy.  There is no timetable for his return.

Moving on to this weekend’s games.  Friday it’s the New Orleans Hornets, a very different team than last year’s thanks to the trade of star point guard Chris Paul to the Clippers.  The Hornets come into the game with the same record as Minnesota (3-7).  They’re led by Eric Gordon, the former Indiana Hoosier star now in his 4th NBA season.

Anthony Tolliver on the New Orleans Hornets

But Gordon has been limited by a knee injury.  He’s not alone and neither are the Wolves when it comes to injuries.  The Hornets have been hit just as hard with starting forward Trevor Ariza missing time too.  The NBA schedule in this abbreviated season seems to be having an effect all across the league.

Anthony Tolliver Talks About Shortened Season Causing Injuries

Saturday, it’s off to Atlanta to take on the Hawks.  Atlanta is 8-4 and coming off a 30 point win against Charlotte on Thursday.  If Friday is a “winnable” game in New Orleans, Atlanta will certainly be a challenge.  This is a team that needs victories and not the moral ones anymore.

Ricky Rubio Says There Are No Moral Victories in the NBA

Programming Note:

You can hear both games on WCCO Radio.  Friday, listen for the Wolves and New Orleans starting with Mike Max’s Timberwolves Tip-Off Show at 6:00.  Game-time is set for just after 7:00.  There is no TV Friday night so WCCO is the only place you can hear the Wolves.  Saturday, it’s Steve Thomson and Eric Nelson with the Timberwolves Tip-Off at 5:00, game-time at 5:30 on News Radio 830 WCCO!


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