The Timberwolves will open their season against the Sacramento Kings tonight. I thought it would be a fun day to document the happenings at Target Center. The following is based on true events that actually happen.
This is the "Countdown to Tipoff"
In a word, a blur. The Wolves had a dedication ceremony for the new Treasure Island terrace, which is a beautiful spot to watch a game on the suite level of Target Center.
In the locker room, JJ Barea, Nikola Pekovic and Andrei Kirilenko shared tales of playing games in less than ideal conditions in international ball. All three are dynamic personalities and are fun to listen to. Classic stuff. The locker room has a good vibe early, which I don't believe that was the case last year with the likes of Michael Beasley and others. Rick Adelman has built this team to his specs and I truly believe that will play itself out on the floor.
The coach was calm and ready during his pregame media session. Decided to go with Derrick Williams at the power forward and said he liked Dante Cunningham's energy off the bench a little better.
Thinking more and more about the game tonight (and the media meal). Guess thats what happens when you roll in at 7am and don't eat breakfast. The media room has been turned into restaurant du'jour.
Inside the Numbers:
Love the fact that we are home tonight against the Kings. We are 28-16 overall against Sacto in Minnesota. Including the epic game seven win in the 2004 NBA playoffs.
Tonight marks the 12th straight year the Wolves have started at home. All-time the team is 13-10 on Opening Night.
Tonight marks the fourth time in seven years the Wolves open up with Sacramento.
Advertising logos are being placed, the TV camera crews continue to set up and the clock says six hours until tipoff.
The team opens the season playing three games in four days including back-to-back road games Sunday and Monday.
The operations people are hard at work getting Target Center ready for opening tip. Seven hours to go and there is plenty of work to do. I have moved from the media room to the arena to get a better feel for exactly what is happening.
There is plenty of wiring going on to make sure the internet works for the media. The gal in the picture didn't want to be in it, but when I told her I was with FOX 9 she warmed up to the idea.
It is amazing to me how many moving pieces there are. You think just turn on the lights in the gym and play ball, but it isn't quite that easy.
Shoot around ends early and we are quickly shuttled from Lifetime Fitness up to the main hallway outside of the locker rooms. One of the big keys early will be play of Brandon Roy. After a year away from the game due to injury, Roy and his knees feel great and is ready to go. With no Kevin Love, Roy will be looked at more offensively and how and if he can handle the additional load will tell the tale of how this team comes out of the gates.
"It's different because of sitting out and you know kind of anticipating my fist game of course I'm really excited," said Brandon Roy. "I thought going through preseason helped me get to this moment now where I'm alot more relaxed than I was going into the first preseason game."
A big matchup tonight will be at the center position where Nikola Pekovic will go toe to toe with DeMarcus Cousins.
"He's a great player," said Pekovic about Cousins. "it is going to be a tough matchup but I will never surrender and will always try to give my best."
Players begin to arrive and check in with the public relations staff. Autographs are signed and there is an excitement that is building. Maybe it is the inner kid in me making more out of it than there is.
Andrei Kirilenko asks to borrow a sharpie to put a mustache on fellow Russian Alexey Shved's picture in the hallway.
Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love are the last two players to arrive. The gameplan is to tread water until they are both back next month.
Shoot around shortly then media access. Plenty of pictures and video to come.
I am hunkered down in the media room of the Target Center waiting for players to begin arriving. It is as quiet in here as I have ever witnessed it. An occasional worker pushing a cart will pierce the silence, but for the most part it silence is golden.
Both Sacramento and the Wolves will participate in shoot around in about an hour.
All the donuts were devoured so the staff called in the replacements in the form of cookies. They went just as fast. I have always thought it was funny to watch people when free food is involved. The common thread from passers by as the morning went along was,"Awww, you are out of donuts?". From what Wolves staffers said, typically there are leftovers that are donated to the Red Cross. Not this year. This year is different.
Opening day at Target Center is a treat. For those making their way into their Friday, the Wolves made it a little sweeter. Staff served donuts, coffee and juice to hundreds making their way through the skyway.
Not a bad way to start the day...