Last night, our team lost a tough matchup in the battleground state of Michigan, as the Pistons of Detroit beat us 122-101. Now, our opponents might call that a “landslide” victory, and they’re doubtless bragging it to their supporters, but I’d just like to remind everyone that we won half of the quarters in the game. Viewed through that lens, it was very close to being a draw; we lost, in my opinion, on a technicality, a rule that is a remnant from an outdated system.
When Tom Thibodeau, our 2017-18 campaign chairman, conceded the game (sending Aaron Brooks, Cole Aldrich, and Marcus Georgee-Hunt onto the floor), all I wanted to do was scream into a pillow. But it got less terrible after the final tally was in – I did some thinking, some writing, some praying, some stewing, and after awhile, a good deal of laughing. I took a long walk in the woods of upstate New York; I believe this is what some call “self-care.” Turns out, it’s pretty great. But now that my season of self-reflection is over, I have decided it’s important to describe “What Happened” in detail – so that we might learn how to move forward.
But before I get to that, I want to thank the great team we put out there. Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Shabazz Muhammad, Tyus Jones, Nemanja Bjelica -outstanding people with impeccable track records, except, of course, when it comes to winning. But I really thought bringing them together on this 2017-18 campaign would be different, especially since some veterans (Taj Gibson and Jeff Teague) were brought in to help. Of course, not having Jimmy Butler hurt us; he is the one tasked with delivering Thibodeau’s message to the rest of the team. Without him, our message was missing. And it’s hard to win when you have no message. And we had no message. No message at all. Our message was nonexistent.
We thought it might not matter, though. We were facing an opponent that was coming off a loss to the Sixers – the Sixers – on its home floor, and we jumped out to a commanding lead (9-0). Detroit seemed beaten down and unstable. They appeared to be totally disorganized, and with prickly personalities such as Reggie Jackson in the mix, the potential for self-combustion was right there.
But we could not hold the advantage. Without Butler, the rest of our team had no chemistry. I don’t want to get too wonkish, but the pick and roll execution was lacking, live-ball turnovers were a huge problem, and defensive rotations were either late or non-existent. Jamal Crawford could not get it going, and neither could Shabazz Muhammad. Andre Drummond cleaned up on the glass. No one could stop the one-two punch of Tobias Harris and Avery Bradley. Despite fighting back to a tie halfway through the night, as negative results kept pouring in, it became clear that we could not hold them off.
It is also hard to win when you get beat on the fastbreak 24 points to 0. It seemed like the Pistons turned every turnover and missed shot into a runout. We could not get back in time to stop it. Which reminds me – have you heard of the game “Pokemon Go?” It was very popular awhile back, it is an application that you can play with on your mobile telephone device. Pokemon Go? I wish our team would Pokemon Go and get back to play transition defense.
Also, in a particularly embarrassing oversight, our team completely forgot to account for Wisconsin….’s own Henry Ellenson, a native of Rice Lake. We should have known he was important, but we neglected him entirely, and he came back to hurt us in a big way, scoring 14 points and pulling down 5 rebounds off the bench. He drove to the basket, he hit a couple threes… he really hurt our chances, and it was all because we just plain ignored him.
While we made mistakes, I have to mention the possbility (heck, probability) a nefarious interloper gave our opponent an unfair advantage. I am speaking, of course, about the Pistons’ ties to RUSSIA. That’s right, RUSSIA. Ish Smith, a backup point guard, was once associated with a Viacheslav Kravtsov, who is definitely RUSSIAN. In 2013, the two of them were traded together to the Suns for Caron Butler and cash considerations. What kid of cash? Dollars… or RUBLES? A popular MSNBC commentator informed that backup center Boban Marjanovic hails from the former SOVIET COMMUNIST country of Yugoslovenia, which is certainly a RED flag… a RED flag with a HAMMER AND SICKLE on it, if you ask me. Anthony Tolliver once played in Germany, and do you know which country had a non-aggression pact with RUSSIA during the Second World War? There seems to be many connections. Did Russia interfere with this NBA basketball game? I’m just asking questions.
In any case, it’s time to head back to Minnesota to prepare for our next run
in 2020 on Friday night against the Thunder. Until then, I believe we should all take a good look at What Happened, so we may learn to avoid the same mistakes again. We should also hope our message (Jimmy Butler) returns, our defense is better, and the damned RUSKIES decline to meddle in our sovereign basketball game.
KAT x Sounds of Silence by popular request pic.twitter.com/GLOHB35xQB
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) October 26, 2017