Preseason Game Five Preview: Wolves at Bulls in the United Center
I’d like to talk to you about a serious pandemic that is hurting this great planet we inhabit.
It’s called Knuckle Pushup Prehensile Fracture Disorder, or KPPFD. KPPFD literally affects dozen of power forwards each year, crippling their hands for month at a time. The key to battling KPPFD is to make sure workouts for star athletes are being done in a safe and secured environment. You want to have a soft floor of carpeting or a yoga mat to soften the force affecting the carpal bones in your hands. If not done properly, you can suffer from KPPFD and send thousands of fans into a panic.
We have not found a cure for KPPFD but with even a donation of just $15 million per year, we can support those who suffer.
We’re still in the preseason so I’m not really feeling like putting in real analysis into these previews. Also, I’m mad tangential. Instead, I thought I’d just note this will be a small glimpse into life without Kevin. Bulls will be a tough defensive team, even in preseason so we should get a nice test for the Wolves right out of the Loveless gate.
For today’s 3-on-3, I rallied the troops and got the thoughts of Ben Polk and Steve McPherson about our Kevin Love KPPFD news and what it could mean for the team over the next month or so. Also, we will be involving readers of the site so if you’d like to participate in upcoming 3-on-3 previews this season, send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or tweet at me.
1. Looking at the schedule and the conservative prognosis on Kevin Love’s return, how concerned are you for the first 20-ish games of the season?
Ben Polk, A Wolf Among Wolves: Well I’m pretty concerned. The early schedule isn’t a monster but it’s not a 20-game series against Maccabi Haifa either. Nine of the first 20 are against Toronto, Golden State, Orlando, Sacto, Charlotte and Cleveland…buuut they’ve also got 8 games against Chicago, Philly, Dallas, Boston, the Clips and the Pacers. I think .500 would be a very optimistic prognosis.
Steve McPherson, A Wolf Among Wolves: As I alluded to in my initial post about Knucklepushupgate, what this is going to be is a test for whether the culture of the team has genuinely changed from last season. My biggest concern is that the same malaise that infected the team down the stretch last season—the kind of towel-throwing that getting rid of Beasley, Randolph, et al was supposed to forestall—rears its ugly head when they take a couple on the chin. Luckily, November doesn’t look too rough, with games against Sacramento, Toronto, Orlando, Charlotte and Milwaukee that they should win. Basically, if they’re 10-10 when Love comes back, mission accomplished.
Zach Harper, A Wolf Among Wolves: Oddly enough, I’m not terribly concerned. There are a couple of showdowns with Dallas and Golden State in the first month and a half, and those could end up being the difference between making the playoffs and staying in the lottery. But overall, I think this team has good depth and we’re going to see Kirilenko and Williams do a decent job of filling in for Love. It’s weird that the most homerish I’ve ever sounded as a Wolves fan is coming off of Love breaking his hand before the season. New territory for me, gang!
2. Does it feel like the playoffs are a longshot now?
Polk: You know, the truth is I still don’t feel like we understand this team well enough to really know how they’ll pull through this thing. Scoring, rebounding, backcourt defense, rim protection: its not a given that they’ll be able to do any of these things competitively. In other words, I could certainly imagine this stretch knocking them out of contention.
McPherson: Here’s the thing: even with the expectation that the Wolves were going to lock down the eighth seed or even seventh seed, the playoffs are always a long shot for almost any team that wasn’t there the season before. There’s just such an unfathomable amount that has to break your way that’s totally out of your control. The Thunder, Lakers, Clippers, Grizzlies, Nuggets and Spurs are all likely to be back. So is it less likely? Yes. But it was never a lock to begin with.
Harper: I think this actually shows us how legitimate a playoff berth is. If the Wolves are deep enough and talented enough to make the playoffs, they’ll probably hover close to having a .500 record during this stretch. If they aren’t really that good, then the injury will hit this team hard and keep them out of the playoffs. This isn’t a great thing to miss Love right away, but we get to see what the team is made of. And that’s good in a way.
3. Out of Kirilenko, Derrick, and Dante, which players do you expect to make the most out of this opportunity?
Polk: To me, D. Williams is the player given the greatest opportunity here. He has a chance to play big minutes, including minutes at the four, his natural position. If he can score consistently and play with sustained effort, he could save the Wolves’ skin and improve his own standing in the process.
McPherson: With Kirilenko and Williams expected to spend more time at the four, it clearly opens up more minutes for Chase Budinger at the three. With Roy’s iffy knees and Shved’s inexperience, it’s possible that Budinger might have been pushed to the two a good amount, which I don’t think would have benefited his game (cf. Johnson, Wesley—who had a lot of other problems but playing SG was definitely one of them). I expect his usage to tilt more towards SF, where he’s bound to be most effective. Imagine that on the Wolves: a small forward playing small forward.
Harper: I want the answer to be Derrick because I know he could really establish himself with a great stretch of play here. However, I think Andrei Kirilenko will really make the most of all this. He’s going to have to be the leader and the playmaker on the court. Luke and JJ can do some stuff and Roy will get his opportunities to lead on the court, but it’s mostly going to be AK directing traffic and setting guys up.
Place: United Center in Chicago, Illinois
Time: 7pm Central Time
Viewing and listening pleasure: It’s on TV. Comcast SportsNet Chicago. If you have DirecTV, it’s on channel 752. Otherwise, um… have you guys ever seen the movie Hackers?
Records: Wolves are 3-1 and Chicago is 2-2.
Just feeling 2.5 Darkos right now. The Love injury hasn’t devastated me because I think he’ll be back earlier than the 6-8 weeks. But it definitely doesn’t make me feel totally confident about the Wolves right now. I’m not down in despair, but I’m not beaming either.
Enjoy and if you know anybody suffering from KPPFD, please have them contact a trained specialist.