2017-18 Season

Timberwolves 127, Cavaliers 99: Destroyer of Worlds

Before we do anything, first, let’s re-live this Tyus Jones dunk:

LeBron James is arguably one of the best chase-down blockers in basketball history; in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, he made the most clutch chase-down block in basketball history. But tonight, with the Wolves up 16 and in that “not-quite-a-blowout-yet-no-man’s-land,” Tyus Jones raced out ahead of the chase-down master and threw it down on the fastbreak.

Let’s watch that again:

There was no coming back from that for Cleveland.

Hell, they weren’t really there from the opening tip onward. The Target Center staff smartly installed a non-regulation rim that was only 12 inches in diameter instead of the usual 18 on the Cavs’ basket, which led to Cleveland missing 17 of their first 19 three point attempts. For all the clamoring Wolves fans (myself included) do for the team to shoot more threes, games like tonight are a pretty good cautionary tale for when an offense becomes predicated upon hitting those shots. Cleveland was shooting at a Nerf hoop rim, became disjointed and dispirited, failed to get back in transition, then began forcing up poor shots at the miniature finger-shot hoop that the equipment guy had quietly downgraded them to during a long timeout, which frustrated them further, and before you knew it, Tyus Jones was dunking in front of LeBron Freaking James, the best basketball player of all time:

The Wolves led 20-to-4 with 4:40 to go in the 1st quarter. Jimmy Butler finished the first quarter with 10 points, 3 boards and 3 assists; he finished the game with 21-8-9 and 3 steals on a +39 line in 27 minutes of work, which is cartoonishly good. Andrew Wiggins had 25 points, surprising no one by breaking his recent cold snap against the franchise that drafted then dealt him away. KAT had 19-12-4. Taj had 16 points and 13 rebounds. Tyus Jones had 6 points, 8 assists, and 1 extremely cool dunk. All of the Wolves’ starters were at least plus-30 for the game.

LeBron James had 10 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists. Jae Crowder, J.R. Smith and Kevin Love combined to go 3-for-19 from the field, including 1-of-13 from three. All four of those players were at least a minus-30 for the game. The Cavs’ fifth starter, Isaiah Thomas, was only a minus-20 thanks to his ejection for introducing his flailing hand to Andrew Wiggins’ face on a drive:

In real time, I couldn’t tell just how bad it was, but after watching the replay, I’m glad I.T. got the boot. I don’t know how anyone could argue he was even going for the ball in that situation; he didn’t even come close to making contact with it. I’ll be curious to see if a fine or suspension is coming Thomas’ way.

Wiggins stayed in the game after Jimmy confirmed that he still had a pulse:

Some of the final team statistics were absolutely bonkers. To wit:

  • The Wolves had a 30-to-5 assist to turnover ratio, a feat they’ve accomplished just four times in franchise history
  • They won points in the paint 60 to 42
  • And 2nd chance points, 17 to 7
  • And fastbreak points, 14 to 5
  • And total rebounds, 56 to 37.

I honestly don’t know what else to say. It was like the Wolves were an experienced 2k player playing on easy mode; the Cavs couldn’t function, and everything looked easy for Minnesota. The past two games have done a ton to get rid of the poor taste in everyone’s mouths following two losses out east; the Wolves will look to continue building on it Wednesday night against Oklahoma City.

One more time, for the road, eh?

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11 thoughts on “Timberwolves 127, Cavaliers 99: Destroyer of Worlds

  1. That was amazing.

    I thought the Wolves might come out a little flat in the 2nd half because they were up so much, but that didn’t happen at all. We buried them and crushed their souls and I loved every second of it. My wife was like, “why are you still watching? You’re up by 40!” She doesn’t understand.

    It was great to get our first legit signature win of the season and in such triumphant fashion.

    I also think the Wolves are a matchup problem for the Cavs. They don’t really have anyone to slow down KAT and Gibson and that’s what got us rolling.

    Tyus is such a good fit at PG for this team. He plays smart and this team just flat out plays better at both ends when he’s in the game. His dunk was amazing. I yelled at that.

    Lebron had 10 points. That’s got to be some sort of career low or close to it. Butler took his stat line tonight.

    We definitely did benefit front Cleveland missing everything in the first half but we were on point tonight.

    I don’t know if Wiggins lob to Gorgui was on purpose but i would love to see more of that from him. 90% of the time when he gets the ball, he’s shooting it. I think if he is willing to more of what he did with Dieng and be more like KAT, this offense will hit a new level.

    The only negative thing about tonight is that Alabama won.

    1. The wiggins pass to gorge was actually a bad shot, no intentions to pass at all, if wiggs wasn’t I got the ball I’m shooting 90% of the time he would be wayyyy a better player instead of one of the most inneficient volume shooter in the entire league

      1. I agree. I seriously believe if he were to pass more and look to set up his teammates, this offense would rival the Warriors.

  2. You know it is going good, when BAZ gets 4:30 minutes to do his thing. Even Belly was back to pre injury form for one night, which hopefully carries over into OKC and the rest of the year. Even though the Cavs bench was able to whittle it down under 30, it was a solid effort by the whole team. I was surprised Lue didn’t pull a Walton and bench his starters for his deeper second unit and try to get back sooner. Fry and Korver can get red hot from three pretty quickly and provide a difficult match up for even our starters. Don’t be surprised if that happens in Cleveland for the rematch.

    I mentioned in another post that the Wolves had not beaten a top tier team yet, so tonight was a quality win. IF they can move and share the ball this way against OKC, it may be a stronger statement to the quality of team we have. Beating OKC will give us a tiebreaker over a much improved competitor in the division. They will likely play harder and not miss as often as the Cavs did. Cleveland was embarrassed, but they are not pushing to be the #1 seed in the East, and so they can have games like this and not get worried. I doubt that LeBron would have had only 10 points if the Cavs needed a win. He and DWade were getting star calls in the first half when we got called for 14 fouls to the Cavs three. KAT got called for two ticky-tack fouls and could have been in trouble. Same with Taj. The refs were pretty Cavs friendly until IT played clothesline to Andrew’s neck. Wiggins played his usual stellar game against Cleveland. He needs to duplicate that effort and overall production Wednesday.

  3. Wiggins fans? Those calling for him to shoot without missing, get assists instead of shooting, and play defense blocking shots from across the floor – go back and watch the video. This team is enjoying the success it is, based largely on Wiggins play. He doesn’t hack – he guards his man – is getting more rebounds (much better position even when he doesn’t make it) – is stronger/faster/better with each season. OK – I’ll give you his struggle at the FT line – where his constant listening to so called fans has messed with his head – but he is critical and vital to the wolves success. Tyus Jones – wonderful game, Thibs has a wonderful problem once Teague is ready to go.

  4. I agree that Wiggins success equates to team success. Having KAT, Butler and Wiggins playing at a high level is how our team will succeed this year and in the future. The thing that was great about this game, was that none of the big three demanded the ball or hung onto it for very long (except for Jimmy at the end of the first quarter.) They either got off a good shot or they gave it up. It will be interesting to see when Teague gets back into the rotation, if that changes. He tends to hold the ball much longer than Tyler, no wait, Tyson, I mean Tyus.

  5. You can’t make this stuff up! Tyler Jones dunks over Lebron James. Someone probably took Lebron aside after that and quietly whispered, ‘Tyussss’ in his ear.

    Ha, Jimmy checking the pulse. I know IT is a bit of a punk but I didn’t know he’s that much of one. Glad Andrew was OK.

    This was amazing, one of my favorite Wolves games in a long time. They did everything we want them to do against a quality opponent. They had outstanding ball movement, pushed tempo and got out in transition as it suited them, got everyone involved, played smart, intense D, took and made enough threes, dominated the paint, crashed the boards, got a boatload of assists and only had 5 turnovers.

    This game was an outlier. One of those games in which, randomly, everything clicks for one team, and the other team can do nothing right. That said, happily there is a huge grain of truth there. First, I will point out as Bluez did that Cleveland doesn’t match up against us well. They rely on LeBron so much to get them going but we have Jimmy to sick on him. Love is a weapon but they play so small that we can guard Love with Towns and shut him down. In general, they are small enough out there that if we play tough D they have to be hot from three to compete and win and they were NOT in this one. But that gives us an opening to beat them in every game.

    We might have been able to play very well and even beat Cleveland with Teague starting, but I don’t think you see this giant blowout without Jones. KAT’s numbers weren’t spectacular, but he was also very important. He shut Love down, defended the paint, and was a force Cleveland could not stop (he shot 8-11). In a performance like this it is hard to be critical, but this is an illustration of how we view KAT. He’s our best and most flexible offensive player. Cleveland had no answer for him. Yet he got 11 attempts to 13 for Gibson, 13 for Butler, 19 for Wiggins. It was great to see Wiggins play really well and get involved to that degree. But in tougher games acting like Towns isn’t your primary weapon is a loser strategy.

    Everyone who’s been slumping looked good in this one. Bjelly was back. Gibson took advantage of being forgotten about by a small team like a pro.

    On the Wiggins thing, of course we are a better team when he plays well and we want him to do well. But he doesn’t tend to play like this that often. He almost never brings the focus and intensity and joy he brought to this one. I question his mental toughness and overall interest out there so many nights. Not in this one (not a coincidence against Cleveland again… what is he going to let that GO?). Here’s to hoping this is a step toward bringing ‘it’ more often, and to me not holding my breath.

    The elephant in the room is why we don’t play like this every game, why we’ve only looked like this a handful of quarters for half a season. No, I don’t mean historically blowing a finals team out of the water. I mean moving without the ball, fantastic, quick pace team passing, a disinterest in iso, pushing pace and getting easy transition points, competent D with excellent moments, taking enough good threes to assure we compete, etc. We looked like we had a totally different system and philosophy on O. On D, I think we have been seeing that come together more lately. The key is an anchor. Towns’ improvement as of late is amazing and that gives us a big D anchor to work off of in games. That little extra disruption down below helps everyone on D. So on one hand, kudos. On the other, why do we never play like this? We obviously have the personnel to do it.

  6. I agree that it looks like Captain Casual “plays when he wants to play”. Motivated by things that seem to be about him and not the team is concerning. His mental toughness can be easily seen with his first FT, most nights. After he got clothes-lined by IT, did you see how calmly and perfectly the two tech shots went in? If he can do it then, why not when it is the first quarter and he could make a team like the Nets pay?

    As for the amount of shots KAT got versus the other starters, I wouldn’t worry about it. KAT was getting double teamed and he did a great job of passing out of it, instead of trying to get some more shots up. He also was in a bit of foul trouble in the first half and G did get some more shots than he is used to getting. What is nice is that Andrew was pretty effective with his shooting last night and so the balance was part of the fun. I do think that KAT should be able to beat a lot of the small centers in the league like a drum and if Andrew was shooting his long turn around fadeaway disasters, a case could be made that he needs to get the ball to KAT and let him destroy his guy or pass to an open cutter.

    Would Teague have added anything more to this game? Highly doubtful, but he would have been stronger than Brooks (who had one of his better games?)and that is a certainty. I think most of us in AWAW see Tyus as a better fit for the starters and Teague may be part of the answer to the bench woes. As we get closer to the playoffs, a bench of Teague, Crawford, G and a second helping of Good Bjelly is pretty solid. If Thibs/Layden can find a wing gem from a team shedding salaries for BAZ and Cole, maybe we get a chance to move into third place. Overtaking the Spurs without a healthy Kawhi should be a goal for this team if we stay healthy.

  7. Any trade with Bazz or Aldrich is going to have to require a first round pick. I don’t think the Wolves can afford to do that nor should they. It’d be nice to get rid of Dieng and his 14 milion/year contract. He’s playing barely 20 minutes a game. Let him thrive somewhere else and see if we can get a solid wing backup I don’t know what team would have an interest or need Dieng, but if we could offer him instead of a pick, I’d be much more apt for that. This is dreaming but I’d love to be able to acquire Kent Bazemore for Dieng and Bazz straight up. Promote Patton and Anthony Brown and see what you can work with. I’d like to see Brown get a shot considering the numbers he’s putting up in the G league right now.

  8. I hate to disagree with you, DemBluez, but Ghorghi will be much more likely to need a pick thrown in than the expiring contracts of Baz and Cole. It would be OK , if G was making the $14 mill this year, but with three more years after that, you aren’t going to get a team wanting to create cap space to take on a lunch pail center. Even one as likable as Dieng.

    Now that OKC is playing well enough to surrender their pick to us, I agree that you don’t want to give it up. The contract will be very comfortable for our team to add to a surging team cap number. I also think that the second round pick could have some potential and like to see what we can pick up with that slot as well. Besides I like Bazemore too, but you won’t get him for G and any pick because the have a Plumlee and Dedmon taking in about $18 million at the center spot.

    I would love to see them get Jordan Clarkson for Aaron Brooks and Cole Aldrich. Lakers want to shed salary for their big move this summer and Clarkson has three years at $11 mill per. Not a bad price for an athletic combo guard and an insurance policy if Tyus interest gets high in FA this summer.

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