The Minnesota Timberwolves fell to the Golden State Warriors 126-113 Thursday night, but, to be honest, it wasn’t even that close.
The Warriors controlled this one from start to finish, never trailing at any point throughout the contest. Golden State shot a blistering 21-of-37 from three and were led by Kevin Durant’s triple-double performance (28 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists). Steph Curry and Klay Thompson combined for 50 points on 12-of-18 from behind the arc.
Karl-Anthony Towns led the Wolves in production, posting a line of 31 points, 11 rebounds, to go along with five assists. Jamal Crawford added 21 points in 26 minutes off the bench, Taj Gibson put up yet another double-double (12 points, 10 rebounds), and Jeff Teague finished with 17 points and seven assists. Andrew Wiggins crashed back to Earth with 10 points on 20 scoring opportunities (18 field goals and two free throws).
Finding ways to provide solid insights and analysis breaking down the Wolves performance against the
Juggernauts Warriors, especially when the team was without Jimmy Butler (sore knee) for the fourth straight game (word is he’ll be back in action as soon as Saturday), is a nearly impossible feat. What else needs to be said other than the Warriors are the better team and played as such? So instead of attempting to extend the previous sentence into 800 words, I took to Twitter to field questions for a quick mailbag. Without further ado:
From a purely technical standpoint, what is the most fascinating sports injury to you?
— Tim Faklis (@timfaklis) January 25, 2018
Honestly, I think most injuries are kind of boring in their straightforwardness. For example, an ACL tear, which used to be a potentially career-threatening injury, is just a single ligament getting injured (to #wellactually myself quickly, ACL tears rarely happen in isolation, there’s commonly meniscal damage and/or bone bruises that occur as well, but they typically don’t get reported or greatly impact the recovery process/timeline; the ACL damage is what’s important and the rehab has basically become an exact science).
But what I do find fascinating are the injuries that are more complex, such as tendinopathies (a condition that Spurs’ star Kawhi Leonard hass been suffering from all season), disc herniations, and meniscal tears.
Unlike, for example, ACL tears or quadriceps tendon ruptures, tendinopathies (often erroneously referred to as “tendonitis”; -itis refers to an underlying inflammatory process and the current evidence seems to indicated that -opathies and -osises don’t have such processes, but there is some debate) don’t typically have an easily identifiable cause. They’re typically brought on by “improper loading” (which is variable for every individual and, seemingly, kind of random; why were Kawhi’s quads improperly loaded while LeBron’s haven’t been?) leading to degenerative changes in the structure of the tendon. The science has borne out a few treatments that seem to be effective in treating tendinopathies – eccentric (“strengthening while lengthening” of the muscle) loading, various manual therapy techniques, flexibility exercises – but yet, as seen in the Kawhi case, they can be extremely troublesome.
As for meniscal tears and disc herniations, we know that if you took MRIs of the spine and knees of all people aged 20-30 years old, approximately 30-45% would have tears or herniations present and be totally unaware; they have the injury, but they don’t have any symptoms. So when a player complains of vague knee or low back pain without a distinct mechanism of injury (they aren’t acute in nature) and they undergo MR imagining, there’s a good chance that a meniscal tear or disc herniation will be found. But can we be sure those “injuries” are actually the source of their pain? Surgery for these types of injuries in the general public is often just as or less effective than physical rehab, so why are players so quick to go under the knife for their meniscal injuries and disc herniations? (If we’re being honest, it’s because of the money involved in professional sports, but I wonder if we won’t see meniscectomies and discectomies decrease in the future as the scientific evidence accumulates.)
Would the Wolves be better with Tyus starting? Is Nemanja Bjelica "All-Star Good" or "Not Even A Rotation Player Bad"? Should I feel bad for Bazz or happy for the Timberwolves that they avoided that 4/$40mil deal?
— Neil Orfield (@neilorfield) January 25, 2018
There’s a lot to unpack here!
Teague vs. Tyus: This is likely a debate that exists in varying shades of grey, despite many people’s attempts to make it as black and white as possible. I think it would depend on a few factors, most prominent of which is matchups, but the evidence at the vary least suggests that Jones should get more minutes. I think Jones’ weaknesses would likely get exposed, particularly in the playoffs, if he started every game, but it’s hard to argue against the results we’ve seen the limited starting opportunities he’s been given to this point. This is probably more of a question for next year or the season after.
Bjelica: I’ll put it this way: the fact that Nemanja Bjelica isn’t currently in the MVP discussion is a tragedy.
Muhammad vs. Wolves: Why not both? From the human perspective, it’s hard not to feel at least a little bad for Muhammad. He was given bad intel and it cost him an exorbitant amount of money. Not only that, but placed way too much pressure on himself to earn back that big contract back early in the season, which ultimately led him to fall out of the rotation after failing to perform. As for the Wolves, I think it goes without saying that they dodged a bit of a bullet.
Which ASG roster do you like better?
— danabacon (@danabacon) January 26, 2018
The NBA All-Star rosters (as selected by captains LeBron James and Steph Curry) were announced Thursday afternoon and I think Team Curry is the stronger of the two. I may be biased because both Karl-Anthony Towns and Jimmy Butler are on the team, but I just think the squad is more well-rounded and comprised of players I really enjoy watching.
There are also more compelling storylines. I think Curry, Thompson, and Draymond Green are going to try their hardest to clown Durant; there’s no way that Joel Embiid and Towns aren’t going to try to destroy Kristaps Porzingis; there’s a real possibility that we see a Curry-Harden-Lillard-Antetokoumnpo-Towns lineup, which would be fascinating; and the only really compelling storyline on Team LeBron is that Russell Westbrook, Victor Oladipo, and Durant are all on the same team (#bold prediction: I bet nothing dramatic happens between the three).
Give me Team Curry all day.
Favorite event during All-Star weekend?
— ryan (@ryan_sfa) January 26, 2018
No doubt it’s the dunk contest. It’s the best stage for displaying the true freakish athleticism of the players. But if the dunk contest is boring (as it was last year), there really isn’t much that I’m particularly drawn too, to be honest.
Write about your bad headlines
— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) January 26, 2018
The Wolves are next in action on Saturday against the Brooklyn Nets. Tip is set for 8 pm CT.