The Long Haul
And so it begins. From the looks of things, it won’t be easy. Unless our baskets are lowered to nine feet and the Lynx are the latest addition to the Northwest Division, there’s no way to make it easy. Aside from the continued development of one of the league’s youngest rosters and the occasional visit from Kobe, K.G. or the King, there wont be much for Wolves fans to look forward to this season. There will be no nationally televised games, no jockeying for playoff positioning in spring, and sadly, no distracting antics from Delonte West. But if you’ve developed an unsightly rash and uncontrollable twitch as I have this summer, surely you’ll agree that losing basketball is better than no basketball at all.
So let’s take a look at the schedule…
- David Kahn will get an immediate look at what could have been during the season opener against Sacramento. It’s yet to be seen if DeMarcus Cousins will seek revenge for passing him over or express gratitude for pairing him with Tyreke Evans, but hopefully Wesley Johnson is equally motivated to prove himself. Because there’s no one likes to be embarrassed on the first day of school.
- Even Axl Rose would be intimidated by November’s lineup. No, it won’t last forever, but back to back road games in Miami and Orlando, two matchups with the Lakers and five other games against playoff teams could leave the Wolves needing some time on their own.
- Al Jefferson will be home for Christmas-or close enough-when Utah comes to town December 22. It was an amicable split, but as with most failed relationships, Big Al will probably take the opportunity to show how well he’s doing and remind us of what we’re missing.
- There’s a slight lull in the schedule during December & January where we’ll measure ourselves with nine games against divisional foes in Denver, Oklahoma City, Portland and Utah. Of course it’s not much of a break considering they’re all playoff teams, but still more manageable than November.
- February may be the easiest month, with several winable games on the calendar and only three playoff teams in sight, one of them being Milwaukee. Similar to seasons past, this should be an opportunity for the Wolves to lick their wounds after taking some early beatings….
- ….which they hopefully take advantage of since there won’t be much success to be had in the final month or so. Two more matchups a piece with the Lakers, Mavericks and Jazz, all teams who’ll be preparing and positioning themselves for another tight Western playoff race. This is in addition to multiple meetings with upstarts and restarts such as Memphis, Houston and Phoenix who could be fighting for an eighth seed. Oh, and don’t forget the brutal three game home stretch versus Boston, Chicago and Miami, who could also use a win or two to separate themselves in the standings. Good grief.
So things start hard and end harder, with our lowly franchise used as a springboard for fast starts and fantastic finishes by the league’s elite. It’s almost cruel the way we’re left to fend for ourselves against teams with more finances and firepower, but we’re going to have to play them at some point and honestly, it’s the only way to get better. Taking those lumps, again and again, and filing them away as experience and motivation. As Omar Little, the leader of another small, yet resilient operation once said, “How you expect to run with the Wolves come night time when you spend all day sparring with the puppies?”
There’s a joke about guns to be made there, but I’m not going to. We’ll definitely need the laughs more later.