NBA Minnesota Timberwolves

Minnesota Timberwolves: Rivalry With Los Angeles Clippers Toned Down For Matchup Tonight

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, the Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Clippers provided fans with a couple of dazzling performances by each squad that took each matchup with one another down to the wire. This season, as the Clippers are approaching the 2013 NBA Playoffs, they are set to host the Wolves tonight in a contest that unfortunately won’t provide the spectacular finishes we were used to seeing last year.

Many fans of both clubs will remember the dramatic three pointer that forward Kevin Love hit at the buzzer last season in January to send the Wolves on to an incredible road victory in exciting fashion during one of the battles between the teams. This season, Love has been sidelined due to a hand injury and is likely to miss the last couple of games.

For the Clippers, tonight will be a chance to continue their winning ways and get themselves one of those “easy” confidence-builders. Going up against a Love-less Wolves team will prove much smoother a task than if he was healthy.

Ricky Rubio and the Timberwolves hope to reverse that prediction and shock Chris Paul and the Clippers tonight. A tall task for big man Nikola Pekovic will be keeping Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan on the ground as much as possible. Pekovic is not likely to allow himself to be posterized by either of the two, and prides himself on being a big, strong defender.

Minnesota will also have to worry about the bench play for Los Angeles. Specifically, Jamal Crawford has been sensational this season for the Clippers and could be high up in the rankings for the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award.

Tonight could be a game for forward Derrick Williams to shine, as he is one that can hang with the more athletic big men in the league. An inconsistent performer for much of the season, Williams is in the midst of trying to prove to the Wolves that he is worth keeping on the team. Or, maybe he sees it differently. He may be trying to prove to other teams he is worth a trade offer. Both could be likely scenarios.

One of the more fun sights to watch for tonight will be the matchup of Rubio on Paul. Both are two of the best point guards in the NBA for their own reasons, one being that they each have incredible court vision. With Rubio’s quickness lined up against Paul’s savvy ball handling skills, this could provide fans with an entertaining battle.

If the Timberwolves are to have any chance of knocking off the Clippers tonight in Los Angeles, they are going to have to play nearly flawless basketball. That is not likely to happen, but one can hope, right?

Ryan Heckman is a Minnesota Timberwolves writer and NBA contributor for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook, or add him to your network on Google.