Clippers vs. Timberwolves preview: Minnesota slipping without Love

USA TODAY Sports

While LA hasn't missed a beat without Chris Paul, the Wolves are struggling to stay afloat after their star PF's latest injury.

Not even an injury to Chris Paul, one of the front-runners for the MVP award, has been able to slow the red-hot Clippers, who pasted the Grizzlies and Rockets in consecutive games without their star PG.

The Wolves have not been so fortunate without Kevin Love. After staying above water while Love was sidelined with a broken hand, they've lost five of six games since he re-injured it two weeks ago. As a result, they've slipped out of the Top 8 and desperately need a win at home to stem the bleeding.

This game was likely scheduled for TNT in the first place due to the intrigue of the match-up between Love and Blake Griffin, two of the top PF's in the NBA. Without Love, Minnesota will need huge games from Nikola Pekovic and Dante Cunningham against the massive Clipper front-line.

On the perimeter, the most intriguing storyline is Eric Bledsoe, whose thrived in a starting role, leading the Clippers to 15+ point beatings of quality opponents in their last two games. But, despite his talent, with Vinny Del Negro unwilling to play two PG's at once, he has averaged only 18 minutes a night behind Paul.

Thursday night's game will be one of the first chances for national audiences to get a look at Ricky Rubio, whose missed most of the season with a variety of ailments. Rubio has added some much needed play-making ability in his return, but his shot-making has fallen off a cliff and the Wolves will likely need more offense from him to keep up with an explosive LA attack.

The game will be broadcast nationally on TNT at 8 p.m. ET.

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