The NBA season is here. With that in mind, it is time to flip through the book on the 2012-13 season and to take a look at what the season might have in store -- especially when it comes to the Magic. Be sure to look out for more of these team capsules and to check out all the blogs taking part in this year's NBA Blog Preview (don't worry, I will be linking to all of them in the next few weeks ... months ... this preview IS never-ending, afterall).
Last Year/This Year: 26-40/11-9
Last Year vs. Magic: Lost 102-89 in Orlando.
This Year vs. Magic: Won 90-75 in Minneapolis on Nov. 7; Dec. 17 in Orlando.
Magic Connection: None
The Previews: Oceanary/Canis Hoopus
Kevin Love recently expressed his frustration with the Timberwolves' process of roster construction. His message certainly carried some weight with it as he was frustrated that Minnesota did not offer him the max for his extension after one of the best rebounding seasons and one of the greatest transformations in recent league history.
Love posted 26.0 points per game and 13.3 rebounds per game. This after a year when he announced himself by averaging 15.7 rebounds per game and making 20-20 games look commonplace. He was the modern Moses Malone that year, or whatever the modern equivalent would be.
But Love is looking to the future.
He experienced what we wants to experience all year with the Olympic team. Love won a gold medal and then returned to a franchise that has not delivered him to the Playoffs. he was the only player on that team who could not share any memories of Playoff battles with his teammates. You can understand Love wanting more.
And he had to wait a little while for Ricky Rubio. Rubio came back Saturday with an 8-point, 9-assist game in 18 minutes off the bench. He likely will remain limited in his minutes when the Timberwolves arrive in Orlando for the final game of this series.
This is the most talented Timberwolves roster Love has seen. And so that criticism of the revolving door, while true, may not ring through this year.
Andrei Kirilenko is an athletic freak and has always been able to fill a state column. He has returned to the NBA comfortably so far. Alexey Shved has made the transition from Russia to the NBA too. He has stepped in and played point guard at times and handled the ball for J.J. Barea and Luke Ridnour at times.
Nikola Pekovic is a good complement to Kevin Love too providing a lot of the muscle Love may not have and allowing Love to spread the floor some with his shooting ability.
Still this whole team is built around Love and what Love can do. If he buys in and believes this team and this franchise is ready to take a step forward, all will be good. If this team continues to battle injuries (I didn't even mention Brandon Roy) and things go south... well things will not be all good.
How the Magic Will Beat the Timberwolves: Making shots is a good place to start. Orlando simply cuold not get the ball into the basket in the first matchup in Minneapolis. Orlando was still figuring itself out at the time. The Magic's offense is in much beter shape now with the ball movement and the balance for the offense. The key as always for the Magic will be protecting the basketball. In the first matchup Orlando's turnovers were quickly turned into points by Ridnour and Barea. This is something the Magic must avoid to get the win.
How the Timberwolves Will Beat the Magic: The Love/Pekovic front line is a big bruising front line that the Magic will have to deal with. Glen Davis and Nikola Vucevic have been inconsistent on the glass, but it will most definitely take a team effort for the Magic to handle that front line. Getting back in transition remains a problem for the Magic and so the Timberwolves should be looking to run again. Their depth too and the contributions from players like Kirilenko and Barea coming off the bench could throw the Magic off balance. Particularly if the Timberwolves can dig the Magic into a hole early on.