Sorry for the lack of game threads. Apparently the rest of the TWB staff went on vacation with me last week. I kid, guys. Maybe (slackers).
Tough, tough, tough, tough, contest tonight. But if the Wolves still want to have any hope of making the playoffs, they have to do work. No Pek. No Barea. Love's NBA nemesis in Zach Randolph is back and playing himself back into form. If the Wolves want to have a chance tonight, Wes and Martell are going to have to give us SOMETHING/ANYTHING. Or Wayne can continue his underrated season. Or we can just rest up and destroy Charlotte tomorrow. Who knows? Not much to say about tonight, other than: tough. The Grizzlies are good. Maybe a much tougher team for us matchup-wise than any other team in the West including OKC.
At least Rubio is finally coming over from Spain next year. Super pumped.
So who else is still not over the Rubio thing? Such a tragedy. Worse than the Garnett trade. Worse than Adrian Peterson. The fine people of Minneapolis and St. Paul were starting to galvanize around this kid. While Kevin Love is a sure-fire stud, Rubio made him look all the more better. Furthermore, I think we silently saw by what He hath taken away, that this was secretly Rubio's team all along. His loss is a truly gut crushing thing not only for the franchise, but for the country of Spain and their Olympic team, which would have competed mightily (and probably still will). And now we are left with sad pictures taken from hospital beds, and the lingering feeling as to how the young man is doing in the ever-warming city of Minneapolis while his beaten and battered team embark on a 2-week long road trip filled with exponentially increasing challenges. And rather than step up for their wounded soldier in Hollywood fashion Saturday, our favorite team came out flat and was defeated, tails between the legs, by Chris Kaman Your Mouth and a slew of players I had never heard of in my life.
Pity Party at my place tonight. 9 o'clock Wear your Wolves jerseys.
But it's time to bounce back. Rubio was only 1 man out of 9 in the regular rotation. The Wolves still have a shot as their conference rivals continue to mount losses. Houston was dealt arguably an equally mighty blow when Kyle Lowry fell to a bacterial infection of unknown origins (insert racy punchline). Portland has completely imploded. Denver hasn't turned things around yet since getting Nene and Gallo back into the lineup. And the Jazz, well, we are better than them with or without Rubio and I stand by it.
Bring on the surging Suns. The Wolves had their chance Saturday to show defeat. With a few more days of rest, let's see what they can do down in Phoenix against yet another team we should beat.
Injuries to Rubio or not, just remember we have one of the best NBA coaches in the last 20 years, or ever, behind the helm. Remember that there have been myriad wins this year where someone else other than Rubio willed us to an unexpected victory. Remember, too that aside from the dramatic photo above, that we will see Rubio back in a Wolves uniform a) yet this calendar year, and b) before the Mayan Apocalypse in late December. Remember this team needs to reestablish its identity on the fly and will need a few games to do so. Remember that D-Will has been playing great ball lately and this team still has the depth to win games.
The season isn't over just yet.
Here we are again. The ultimate statement game. The most satisfying moment of the season will either come tonight or it won't.
The Lakers are coming off of two ridiculous losses to Detroit and Washington. They will be hungry for a win. The Lakers are in disarray, threatening to mutiny against head coach Mike Clown and his non-triangle offense. A few keys to the game:
Pek: Do your best to body Bynum. He is the x-factor. Do your thing in the post. Intimidate these chumps.
Love: Get a hand in Pau's face on that mid-range. He isn't going to do anything else except maybe pretend he can still hit that fadeaway shot in the post consistently and/or be generally annoying. Shoot well, and get the Laker's bigs in foul trouble early.
Kobe: Please shoot 37+ times and alienate your teammates, especially Andrew Bynum in the 4th quarter.
Wes: Shoot well and dare the Lakers to extend their defense.
Malcolm Lee: Play a few minutes and become the next Jeremy Lin story.
Rubio: Get your first career dunk. Make it over Bynum, Derek Fisher, Matt Barnes, or Josh McRoberts
Corey Brewer: Demand to be traded back to Minnesota at some point. I know you don't play for LA, but you are missed.
Matt Barnes: Go away.
Luke: Leave World Peace wide open and help on Kobe. Just don't get within 3 feet of him or you will be whistled for a foul.
Darko: Defense. Nothing but open dunks. You could play a crucial role tonight. Accept this role and you could make another $20 million in your career.
D-Will: Be aggressive.
Beasley: Be cautiously aggressive.
Martell: Hit 3's. Play smart.
Lord Adelman: Would love to see you get a technical tonight, if for any reason other than to get the fans even more on your side.
Mike Brown: Frustrate your self-entitled, epic fail of a team as much as possible.
Lastly, fans: HATE the Lakers. For once, please.
Wolves take on the Blazers tonight. After routing them last Saturday, Portland will be out for blood. This game is a must-win for a few reasons:
1. A wolves win combined with a Houston loss tonight will push then into 8th place in the west. (Remember, hate Houston and Portland for the next 6-8 weeks).
2. A win will widen the gap between the Wolves and the Utah/Portlands nipping at our feet.
3. A win means Kahn might not trade Ridnour for Jamal Crawford. How do we feel about this rumor, by the way? Discuss.
4. Tough schedule coming up with a crazy 2-week road trip where we play 9 of 11 on the road. Take advantage of the home stand, and an easier opponent. Lakers are going to be tough Friday.
5. Need to move towards owning the tie-breaker with the Blazers. Doing so could be crucial down the line.
Discuss the game below.no comments
The Los Angeles Clippers are shining proof that even the most epic fail of franchises can come flying out of the bargain basement with a vengeance. Even the karmic Gods have not been able to supress the slumlord-owned Clippers. A good growth benchmark for the Wolves to aspire to, and luckily the Wolves don't have Vinny of the Black tempering any potential team growth. But thus far this season, the Wolves have had the privilege of beating the Clips twice at Staples Center. One came as a result of an epic 4th quarter comeback and Love game-winning three on national television; the other a post-all-star weekend stomping courtesy of hot shooting and a superb 4th quarter defensive effort from Darko Milicic. The latter was not a joke if you forgot. The Clips, coming off of a tight overtime win against Houston last night, are going to be a little winded themselves. Tonight could, once again, go either way. It all is predicated on the Wolves' team shooting, as all of their games really have been so far.
For those of you who obsessively follow the standings, over the past few weeks we have seen the Wolves climb slowly but surely into a potential playoff spot contender. The team is at the point where the playoffs are truly within reach and it is a spectacle to behold. They continue to surprise, delight, and to reduce the boilover bubbling from the collective melting pot of Minnesota fan cynicism by double digit percentage points each week. This team, put plainly, can compete with anyone in the league on any court. Just when you picked them to lose, they destroy Portland at home for the first time since the Garnett Era/World War 1. So, get excited, stay excited. Go to a game or two. Enjoy it. This is '96-'97 all over again.
Currently 9th (!) in the Western conference, we have seen a tiny bit of a gap created between the Wolves and the 8th seed. A whole two games. Despite this, every single game matters in moving up those standings. Who are the key teams to watch and root against in the final 8 weeks of the season? Let's break it down. But before this happens, let's all agree on this: even if the Wolves fall short this year, how much better is this than anxiously following the standings for lottery pick reasons? What a glorious change. Anyhow:
Playoff Locks/Likely Untouchables (6 Teams): San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Dallas, LA Clippers, LA Lakers, Memphis.
Just not happening. While the Wolves hold tie-breakers vs. Dallas and San Antonio, none of these guys are going anywhere barring a serious injury or two per team. Some of these teams have sustained a serious injury as it is and still hold firm. Locks.
The Teams to Watch:
Denver (21-17, T, 7th/8th Seed):
Once a top West team, Denver has plummeted in recent months, but unfortunately for a very obvious and explainable reason. Lead by a HOF coach, Denver has straight up been injury plagued. The Denver Corey Brewers are currently missing Gallinari and Nene and are still improbably hanging around. Once those two clowns are back, expect them to be in the untouchable category very quickly, especially as Brewer continues to cement himself as a top 3 NBA player worthy of twice the maximum salary. Until then, they remain here due to chronic injury issues that may or may not ease up yet this season.
Houston Is the Key! (21-17, T-7th/8th Seed):
The Wolves' playoff hopes will likely come down to the Rocket's performance, which is a fitting and symbolic scenario for both sides. Ohhhh that fuddy duddy old McHale, still screwing us over (silently kicks a nitpicker in the nether regions who points out McHale acquired Love and Pekovic). The Wolves hold the tie-breaker, so should the two teams tie after 66 games, the Wolves are in. Houston has lost 3 in a row, but have maintained a consistent winning record all year long. I implore readers to root strongly against the Rockets for the rest of the year and to pay close attention to their every game. Houston's March schedule isn't exactly a climb up Mt. Everest relative to the Wolves, so keep an eye out for upsets. Houston is doing a lot of traveling in March along with the Wolves, but the competition isn't exactly sterling for the most part (they have a trip this week through what last year was the "NBA Shit gauntlet" of Toronto, Cleveland and New Jersey. Not as much this year, but close).
It's a good sign that the Wolves have pulled off two very difficult road wins vs. LAC and POR last week, but unexplainable games like the Phoenix game will haunt the team down the road. These types of wins are just as critical as Houston's hopeful eventual decline, and Kevin Martin's imminent demand to be traded to the Wolves.
Look Out for and Fend Off:
Portland: 18-19 (10th):
After a surprising loss against the Wolves Saturday, the Portland implosion continues. Fans are anxious as their team slowly cements themselves smack into the middle of no-man's land for the foreseeable future. This team straight up imploded in February. But, this is a group of winners with a very underrated coach and it is definitely way too early to write them off. It is not too early for the Wolves to call them up and work out a deal for Nic Batum, hopefully in exchange for something fair like the rights to Henk Norel, Blake Stepp and the rights to swap 2nd rounders in 2015. Just kidding. But wouldn't you have to trade Derrick Williams or a comparable serious asset for him if you could? Too bad a major deal is unlikely to take place between two teams that will completely be clawing against each other for the final playoff spot.
Utah: 17-19 (11th):
After a crazy hot start, this team has also imploded. They did reek of over achievement once the season started, so this isn't altogether overly surprising if last season is any indication. The early organic improvement from the Jazz was sort of odd in hindsight. I wouldn't expect Utah to be a significant threat from here on out. So, expect them to win about 10 straight here coming up.
Phoenix: 17-20 (12th):
Winners of three straight and slowly kissing the coattails of Portland and Utah. They could sneak up as silently as a post-Buffalo Wild Wings bowel episode.
Overall, for the time being, any future game against Portland is a must win, and a Houston collapse is a must-happen. Pay close attention to those two teams for now. The Wolves need to make good use of this 4 game home stand to stay in it.
I will be on for a bit tonight at 6:30 CST to discuss Saturday's contest vs. Portland. We will discuss the game, Lord Adelman, Kahn, trading for Nic Batum and the Portland fanbase's surprising distaste of their season thus far. Follow this link and tune in in a few hours!
On a certain level, I am very happy with the success the Timberwolves have attained this year. They've won 50 percent of their games so far this year at a time in franchise history where the past six seasons netted a 143-348 record (.291). So there's certainly reason for happiness and hope within the fanbase.
The problem (yes, there's a problem) is that the improvement has been so vast from last year to this year that there are a few of us who are jaded. We suffered through some of the worst NBA performances imaginable, and now other far less-dedicated fans are hopping on the bandwagon, buying up season tickets, and overall making a mockery of my - and others' - six years of misery. What's worse is that the rotation includes guys like Pekovic and Rubio and Derrick Williams - key players who weren't a part of the team (or a fringe contributor in Pek's case) in 2010-11, so I can't even feel invested in their successes and failures because I don't "know" their game yet.
So I've floundered a bit this season.
I enjoy the Wolves from a safe distance, reading game stories and box scores to stay "up to date" on their rise from obscurity to true relevance. I've caught contests now and then, marveling at the way Rubio sees the court (like we prayed he would), and observing the ease at which Kevin Love obliterates opposing power forwards and centers' attempts to keep him from gathering caroms. Not to mention the hiring of an all-world head coach who has both the attention of the players and a discernible direction for the team.
I'm only writing here today because I've noticed the jaded feeling has begun to subside. I miss having a fun, successful NBA team to follow and enjoy. I suppose more than anything I needed the excitement to happen organically, because that's the only way I could invest in a team and be truly disappointed after turnovers and missed passes, or smile like a proud father when crisp ball rotation leads to an open look or layup.
I'm taking small steps after the All-Star Break - I'll attend my first game of the year in a couple weeks. I'm going to start DVRing games I can't watch live, too. All in an attempt to get back the feeling I had when this team was the butt of every basketball-related joke. With any luck, I'll be the guy crying in the stands after the Wolves' first playoff victory in late-April or so.no comments
Let's forget how awful our wing play can be and how frustrating it is to watch our second overall draft pick sit on the bench.
Let's forget about buzz words like "production" and "fit."
Instead, let's talk about what is clearly a team that is just one or two years away from being a championship contender.
Click "Read More" to find out why Jon Schweppe is making ridiculous outlandish statements!no comments