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Wolves road to playoffs starts tonight against Orlando

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Nine consecutive years without a playoff berth in the NBA is something only the Minnesota Timberwolves can say they are the not-so-proud owners of right now. That can change this season, and it all starts tonight when the Wolves host the Orlando Magic in the season/home opener.

ORLANDO MAGIC: The Magic was beaten soundly by the Pacers last night in Indiana. Former Indiana Hoosier Victor Oladipo -- the fourth overall pick in the NBA Draft -- scored 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting in his debut.

RUBIO TO LOVE: The dynamic duo played together for a grand total of 15-minutes last season. Rubio started the season late because he was recovering from a torn ACL, and by the time he got back Kevin Love had a broken hand that caused him to miss most of the season. Love says they "want to move forward and take care of unfinished business."

50 WIN SEASON? Anything is possible. A projection system from ESPN.com has the Wolves ready to break out with 52 wins this season. Vegas isn't as optimistic, setting the over/under for victories at 41. The Wolves haven't won 50-games in a season since Kevin Garnett and company went all the way to the Western Conference Finals in 2004.

BIG PICTURE FOR D-WILL: Wolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders isn't looking for immediate success from Derrick Williams. The third-year player lost weight over the summer with a goal to play more as a small forward. Saunders tells the Pioneer Press that Williams has a lot of work to do over the next two years.

PLAY A LITTLE D: It's a foregone conclusion that the Wolves will score plenty of points, but will they be good enough defensively to win consistently? CanisHoopus believes that in order to have an average defense the Wolves will have to be efficient at forcing turnovers and rebounding. They allowed 98.1 points per game last season (15th in the league).

HEALTH MATTERS: "If the Timberwolves can stay healthy and find a way to defend, they'll push for a sixth, seventh or eighth seed," according to FOX Sports North. Minnesota lost more than 340 man games to injuries last season.

CHAMPIONSHIP ODDS: Every team that doesn't employ LeBron James is an underdog to win the NBA championship this season. According to Bovada, the Wolves' odds of winning it all are 100/1. LeBron and the Miami Heat are carrying 2/1 odds.

ANOTHER ROOKIE BUST? Let's hope not in the case of forward Shabazz Muhammad. The Wolves picked him with the 14th overall pick in the draft. CanisHoopus is confident that Muhammad's ability to rebound and get to the free-throw line will automatically help his game successfully transfer from college to the NBA.

STARTING LINEUP (2012 stats)

  • PG: Ricky Rubio (10.7 points, 7.3 assists)
  • SG: Kevin Martin (14 points, 2.9 rebounds)
  • SF: Corey Brewer (12.1 points, 2.9 rebounds) or Derrick Williams (12 points, 5.5 rebounds)
  • PF: Kevin Love (18.3 points, 14 rebounds)
  • C: Nikola Pekovic (16.3 points, 8.3 rebounds)

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