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Updated: October 17th, 2012 3:29pm
Loss of Love, Rubio could be softened by weak early-season schedule

Loss of Love, Rubio could be softened by weak early-season schedule

by Phil Mackey
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With news of Kevin Love set to miss six to eight weeks due to a broken hand, the Minnesota Timberwolves will be without two star players until at least early-December. Ricky Rubio, recovering from knee surgery, could be out until January.

If there is a silver lining for a Wolves team that expected to emerge as playoff contenders, and possibly more, it might rest with the early-season schedule.

The Wolves open the season by playing nine of their first 15 games against teams that did not make the playoffs in 2011-2012. They also play an Orlando Magic team that lost Dwight Howard in the offseason and a Chicago Bulls team that will be without Derrick Rose.

The Wolves are also fortunate to avoid the NBA's three best teams -- Miami, Oklahoma City and the Los Angeles Lakers -- until the 23rd game of the season, a road clash with the Heat on Dec. 18.

The Wolves won't see the Lakers until Feb. 1.

While Love and Rubio recover, it'll be up to Brandon Roy, Andrei Kirilenko, Nikola Pekovic and Derrick Williams to keep the team afloat.

Phil Mackey is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd