The Blame Game: Spurs 94, Timberwolves 91

Myles Brown —  January 10, 2011 — 3 Comments

"That's a lovely tie, Greg."

Sean Elliot has forgotten more about our fair sport than I’ll ever know. But he still makes me feel much smarter than I should. You see, former jocks who trade in their…well, jocks for headsets tend to fall into one of two categories: Those who are unable to articulate their wisdom and those who haven’t much wisdom to articulate. Elliot is definitely the latter.

Again, it’s not that the man hasn’t gleaned a nugget or two from his years between the lines, but much of his wisdom is conventional instead of personal. Nothing we haven’t heard before, just re purposed and repackaged in supposedly charming little anecdotes that encapsulate his employer’s greatness. Many of which show little regard for the truth, the opponent or the listener. It’s enough to make you long for Reggie Miller.

Upon returning from a second half commercial break, Sean began another of his syrupy soliloquies on the meaninglessness of statistical achievements. Specifically those in losing efforts. More specifically, Kevin Love’s double-double streak. “It hasn’t translated into victories. A lot of people put up numbers. Wins are far more important.”

Of course this was as Mr.Love was in the process of leading our lowly serfdom to the brink of victory against the mighty Spurs, but we shouldn’t let details get in the way of Sean’s analysis. Instead, let’s presume he’s right, which he actually is to some degree. Love is indeed the beneficiary of more opportunities than he’d receive on a better team, but this also means he receives more attention and responsibility than he should. That’s what bad teams do-depend on one player more than usual-and that’s exactly why they’re bad. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean what Kevin Love is doing is any less remarkable.

The ‘Good stats, Bad record’ conundrum boils down to two choices: Is this player’s performance to the detriment of his team or is he achieving this in spite of his team? Now our young man has cleaned the glass 57 times alongside 75 points  (25 & 19 averages) in just three matchups with San Antonio. This is a flatfooted, undersized power forward with an aversion to the post facing as sharp and disciplined a defense as they come. To achieve in the manner he does-finding seams to cut and open spaces to pop, playing an intuitive two man game with both his point guard and center, singlehandedly hauling in critical boards-displays not only the fundamentals, but the ingenuity to thrive in a better situation. So in The Not So Curious Case of Kevin Love, I’m going with the latter. Let’s not take him for granted, Sean.

“Kurt Taught Me”

Anyway, with no small thanks to some decidedly improved effort, this game inevitably ticked down to another agonizing final possession. Actually, there were two, broken down here wonderfully by our friend at NBA Playbook, Sebastian Pruiti. Yes, our daring taskmaster called the same play on consecutive trips up court against the five man equivalent of a steel trap. Not exactly a prudent decision. But before we break out the Rambis pinata, let’s check back in with Mr.Elliot.

As the Wolves prepared to inbound their second shot at a tie, Sean-not unlike many of us-had little doubt about the game’s outcome. “[Young teams] they’re prone to make mistakes when you have this little time left. They start rushing shots and panic. Young ball clubs, they’re not gonna get a good shot.” Indeed they didn’t. However, he has left us with a far tougher decision this time… Are our pups ‘young’ or just bad?

Take a look at that play again. Forget about the fact that it was the exact same play and let’s focus on who was chosen to execute it: Luke Ridnour, Corey Brewer, Martell Webster, Kevin Love and Anthony Tolliver. Yes, Minnesota leads the league in three point percentage and aside from the Beas those are our best shooters. But many of those bombs are hasty, in transition or mid-game drive and kicks. Scoring three points in this situation is far more daunting of a task, especially for five guys not very capable of creating their own shots. With all due praise to their respective talents, times like these expose them as the complementary players they are.

So while Rambis shouldn’t be commended for his mulligan, I honestly don’t know what he should’ve done to guarantee a different result. His strategies late in games leave something to be desired, but so does his roster.

Myles Brown

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3 responses to The Blame Game: Spurs 94, Timberwolves 91

  1. The NBA average “game winning shot” FG% is only .298.

    http://www.82games.com/gamewinningshots.htm

    Discounting the Wolves for not converting these opportunities parallels bashing Mauer and Morneau for not producing enough walk-off homeruns.

    This year’s Wolves squad is playing most tough teams tough. The record may be the same, but between the sheets is much more exciting.

  2. i agree much about Sean Elliot. I’ve lived in Austin the past couple years. The first time I watched a Spurs game on the local affiliate, I mentioned to a friend and die-hard Spurs fan, “oh Sean Elliot’s doing the color, cool”. My friend replied something to the effect of “Um yeah, well he tries.” Since then, I’ve grown less and less fond of Elliot, to the point of instant headache. The “young team” declaration was typical – glib and totally missing the the larger point that the same young team was in the game right to the end. As Quinton points out, those kind of shots are statistically low-percentage… it didn’t go in but how many times have we seen experienced, big game players take and miss the same kind of looks? We don’t think about it that much, we tend to remember Fisher’s .04 rather than the ones he clangs off the iron and for good reason – buzzer beaters are memorable because they’e the exception rather than the rule.

  3. Wait, do my eyes see the schedule correctly? Is there another Minny/Spurs matchup tonight? This should be seen as an opportunity to make Sean Elliot eat his words. Young teams win games too.

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