Spurs 106, Timberwolves 88: TIMberrrrrrrrrrr…

Zach Harper —  January 14, 2013 — 8 Comments

Dressed to the 9s

We have kind of been talking about tempering expectations over the last week or so. The Timberwolves are extremely banged up and I think it’s becoming apparent that without a shooter (Chase Budinger) to space the floor and without an All-NBA focus of the offense (Kevin Love) for the defense to key in on, we’re headed into a very dark and murky area of not knowing which team is going to show up most nights.

The natural inclination is to find someone to blame. The blaming of Love seems to have passed through our area for now. Since he’s not around and won’t be for a couple of months, there’s no point in belaboring the point and hammering down a guy that can’t prove anybody right or wrong. His hand just won’t allow it. And thankfully, fans seem to acknowledge that for now and I haven’t really seen any blame placed on his beard. However, you still have someone to blame. Eventually, it will be Rick Adelman because the coach always takes the fall at some point. But for now, his situation doesn’t allow him to be with the team and our thoughts go out to him and his wife right now.

So who else is blame-worthy? A lot of the sentiment peppering the Twitter waves last night went toward the guy pictured above. No, they weren’t blaming Tony Parker. I mean… Parker was a big part of why the Wolves got destroyed. He had 20 points on 10-of-15 shooting in just 29 minutes of action. He did whatever he wanted out there.

No, people started freaking out about Ricky Rubio, saying he shouldn’t be playing if he can’t produce like we need him to produce. I’m not going to lie; this enraged me. It enraged me because it seemed so short-sighted and desperate. Is Ricky Rubio 100%? Not even close. Is Ricky Rubio 80%? I’m not even so sure of that. I know Rubio definitely isn’t healthy enough to do what he did last year consistently. That much is obvious. But to pretend that Rubio has been bad this season because he’s not scoring the ball or even looking to score the ball seems odd.

Each game for Rubio is a building block. It’s not a building block for improving his game, necessarily. That will have to come during the summer months and into next season. That’s when we’ll see if he can improve his impressive but flawed set of skills. It’s a building block with his body and more specifically his leg. If you notice on every single shot Rubio took last night, they were all short — every single one of them. Rubio’s feel for the game is still impressive. He knows where to deliver the ball most of the time.

However, his feel for when and how to score is back to square one. There is a certain snap of the wrist you can have in passing the ball that doesn’t need much leg strength at all. That’s not the case with shooting a basketball. You want your legs on that wall; you need your legs on that wall. Shooting a jumper without legs is like throwing a football off your back leg. There are times you’re going to complete the pass to the intended receiver but most of the time you’re looking at it going the other way.

Sitting Rubio, even when he’s struggling, is not the answer. He needs to continue to build strength in his legs and confidence in his game. It will waver from time to time but ultimately, it’s a lot better than the alternative. The alternative brings about more questions about his game. Not letting him play his allotted minutes leads to a lack of trust in his game and in his body, and it also leads to atrophy.

And you know how the old saying goes: atrophy never leads to a trophy.

Okay, that’s not a saying. I just made it up. But it kind of makes sense.

If you want to blame something, then blame injuries. They happen and they suck but they’re a part of the NBA. There seems to be a team every season that gets blitzed by them and never quite recovers. Apparently, it’s the Wolves’ turn to suffer through this for whatever reason.

The Wolves got done in by the bench of the Spurs last night. Their bench was A LOT better than our bench and it showed. They had more skill and more energy. I don’t think that would necessarily be the case if these two teams faced each other completely healthy, but “what if” scenarios don’t do anything but make you daydream about a healthier time. The Spurs kicked the Wolves’ butts fair and square. A lot of that could be you’re asking the Wolves’ reserves to be starters and their reserves to be part of the second unit.

Greg Stiemsma, Dante Cunningham, and Lazar Hayward are being asked to do way too much because of injuries. Alexey Shved is being asked to create way too much and you can see how inconsistent his production has been lately because of it. There isn’t any real blame that has to go around right now. Guys are hurt, units are depleted, and our one “savior” is trying to get his body right. He probably won’t accomplish that until next season. Maybe he can get consistent play when March rolls around, but most likely, we probably won’t see him being consistently back to himself until October of this season.

For now, we’re just hoping to see some highlights here and there.

It would be nice to see consistently competitive games but that’s going to be hard against the elite of the NBA. This is what the Spurs do; they destroy those that are beneath them. And the Wolves are definitely beneath them for the time being.

Zach Harper

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8 responses to Spurs 106, Timberwolves 88: TIMberrrrrrrrrrr…

  1. Thank you for this. It was the same stuff that was being thrown around a month ago when Love was struggling. The ADHD that seemingly runs through the Minnesota Fanbase is incredible. Love comes back early from a broken shooting hand and his shot struggles, so a year after fans were calling for him to be MVP they all want him traded?

    Rubio comes back from an ACL tear, that unless you are Adrian Peterson takes over a year to get to 100% from, and he struggles a bit so people want him benched? Makes no sense.

    The only good that has come from the recent losses is it temporarily shuts up the fans saying we should trade Kevin Love.

  2. Zach~ Are there really no Free Agents or D-Leaguers available to help us out?

    Our rotation is so thin right now, and there is almost no one that can space the floor. I know with Barea back we technically have 10 guys suiting up but it feels more like 7.5 with Lou Amundson, Lazar Hayward and a rehabbing Rubio. I know most people are pretty happy with Cunningham right now, but I am the only one missing Wayne Ellington after watching the Wolves consistently brick 75% of their shots from beyond 18ft?

  3. I’ve heard people being upset with Rubio as well. It is like a part of the fan base expected us to walk into the playoffs this year and when we aren’t has to blame someone. These are the people that were booing Love after the interview. These people don’t understand how serious injuries are and why it takes so long to get back from them. This is the bandwagoners that have no patience whatsoever. ADHD was a good description of them. People looking for instant gratification in everything they do.

  4. I will not apologise for anything I said about Kevin Love. His mouth put him in the situation he found himself in no one else did that. A needless self inflicted wound that is his to bear. And yeah I would have traded him. I hope (because I am a Wolves fan) he is all in on this team. But he is the one who raised concerns he isn’t.

    Rubio on the other hand is a different story. This year is going to be what it is. A young man who lost a season to a knee injury getting his legs back under him. You don’t do that from the bench, don’t know why anyone would want him there. Is Luke Ridnour healthy that much of an upgrade over a rehabbing Ricky Rubio that we would be winning games like a 106-88 blow out? Doubt it.

    Tomorrow is January 15th that’s an important NBA date. That’s the date teams can start trading their off season additions that did not work out. Teams looking to cut payroll might look at a Brandon Roy contract as 5 million off their books. We can hope. But I won’t start blaming anyone until after the trade deadline. It’s time to fish or cut bait on B Roy, Derrick Williams and either JJ Barea or Ridnour. So there are things this team can do. If they chose.

    For me I do not see any blame with any player or coach on the court. They’re all dealing with the hand they were dealt. The blame for whether this team folds it up this year or makes the moves needed to stay afloat until Budinger and Love get back and until Rubio returns to form is where it always has been, The front office.

  5. I am far more concerned with Rubio’s defense. It hasnt been very good. He has a tough time fighting through picks and picking up the weak side rotation. Those were his strong points last year and seem to be his weakness this year. Yes, he still manages to get a steal every so often, but that is how Ricky plays, off instincts. I know he is still rehabbing but everyone keeps talking about his lack of scoring. Anyone else taking notice to this?

  6. Rubio blew his knee out playing D on Kobe, ya think he might need some time to get his confidence back Shawn? The kid will be fine.

  7. Shawn, Rubio was awful fighting through picks last season. It’s always been the one big weakness in his defensive prowess. His defense hasn’t been good but I think that’s to be expected. I feel like he’s making the correct decisions on defense most nights but he isn’t able to quite get there.

    That will come.

  8. Mike, from what I’ve seen and heard, it sounds like we’re going to sign Mickael Gelabale. I wrote about it a bit on CBSSports.com here over the weekend:

    http://www.cbssports.com/nba/blog/eye-on-basketball/21550492/report-mickael-gelabale-could-be-leaving-europe-for-the-timberwolves

    He’s a decent wing player who probably can offer more than Hayward right now.

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