Archives For 2012-13 Season

Rubio Buck Hunter Pro

It’s amazing how fun Ricky Rubio can be at times.

We know about the passing and the steals. We know he can crash the boards and break down opposing perimeter defenders. And we see glimpses of an improved jump shooter. In fact, over Rubio’s last 10 games, he’s over 40% from the field (41.2%) and he’s made 50% of his 3-point shots. Now, I wouldn’t say he’s fixed his ability to put the ball in the basket; it’s still very much a work in progress. But there are signs of improvement.

Two things I look for when Rubio taking a jumper are 1) was he readying himself before the pass got to him and 2) where is the arc on his shot?  Continue Reading…

Tanks but no tanks

Zach Harper —  April 3, 2013 — 5 Comments

Coach

To tank or not to tank?

That’s what teams are left trying to figure out at the end of disappointing seasons. For some organizations, the entire season is one big tank fest as they rebuild and try to bring some youth and cheap labor to their re-growing roster (see: Bobcats, Charlotte). For other teams, the season just hasn’t gone their way and they go with a “change in direction” for their organization so they start focusing on “the young talent” on the roster (see: Suns, Phoenix). Teams would never admit to tanking because it’s a nightmare in terms of selling your product.

Also, you can’t tell players not to try hard unless they’re Michael Olowokandi. In that situation, he’s WAY ahead of you. You have to finagle the roster and the lineups as an organization to put out a crappy product. But you can’t come out and tell the coaching staff that a guy isn’t allowed to play because you want a higher draft pick. Players get “held out with injuries” because it’s an easier sell than being “held out with hopes of landing a top-3 pick.”

I don’t have a problem with tanking either. I wish the system wasn’t constructed in a way that promotes tanking. I’d rather have an unweighted lottery because it wouldn’t give teams any incentive to put out a crappy product the last three weeks of the regular season. But the system is what the system is. You get more beer pong balls by losing more games and that means more chances at putting together the right combination to win the draft lottery. As long as the system is this way, you would be stupid not to tank in most cases.  Continue Reading…

celtics_crawford

A game the Wolves should have won and did. Against a thoroughly depleted Celtics squad whose frontcourt rotation consisted of Brandon Bass, Chris Wilcox, Shavlik Randolph (who is apparently the first person named Shavlik in the history of the world based on my research) and even 3 minutes and 50 seconds of D.J. White, the Wolves found themselves with an advantage in the post thanks to the return of Nikola Pekovic from a brief ankle injury. And Pek put in work on the offensive side of things, dumping in 29 points (2 short of his career high) even though he only collected 5 rebounds.

The Wolves shot badly from 3-point range (naturally), managing only .278 on 3-pointers, but they didn’t need to space the floor with Boston’s centers so badly overmatched physically by Pekovic. The aforementioned ankle injury didn’t seem to bother Pek, and Adelman said that he didn’t go the last game because he just couldn’t get it loose before the game.

Kirilenko looked Kirilenkish with 17 pts, 9 rebs, 5 asts and 2 stls. Honestly, the only reason this was even a somewhat close game was that the Wolves’ defensive effort just wasn’t there in the first half. Their offense clicked immediately, but they couldn’t seem to transfer that energy into their defense, which lagged until they tightened up in the second half, pushing the lead out to as much as 14 and holding it mostly steady around double digits.

We cool with all that? Because now I want to talk about Jordan Crawford. Continue Reading…

AdelmanTimeout

During Friday night’s stunning win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, Rick Adelman talked about how he was happy to see that the team didn’t have any lulls throughout their game. It was a reason they were able to match the runs the Thunder went on. It was the reason they were able to topple a more talented team. If you can stay even keeled throughout the course of a game, you’re almost always going to be in great shape to win that game. It’s hard for even the toughest teams to do because the peaks and valleys that occur in the NBA are so commonplace.

Against the Thunder, it didn’t happen to be a problem. Against the Memphis Grizzlies Saturday night, that was the Wolves’ undoing. The final score makes the game look like a typical Grizzlies’ blowout of their lesser opponents, but really this was a highly competitive game. Without Nikola Pekovic and without Kevin Love, the Wolves had the daunting task of trying to handle the tandem of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph inside. And I was actually quite impressed with what we saw from the undersized Wolves.  Continue Reading…

It's a boy.

It’s a boy.

Something you hear a lot of commentators say is that the NBA is a “make or miss” league. I don’t get this. Or rather, I understand that the game is decided by who scores more points, and thus that the team that wins has—by design—made more shots than the other team. But is that all there is to this cliché? If anyone has some deeper insight to it, I’d appreciate it.

But another thing that makes a lot more sense to me that people often say is that the NBA is all about matchups. Consider this: This season, the Timberwolves have a winning percentage of .366, while the Thunder have a winning percentage of .726. And yet the season series between the two teams is even at 2-2. And last season—even though the Wolves were 0-3 against the Thunder—the games were hard fought. Minnesota lost their season opener to OKC 104-100 in 2011-12, and that was before anyone really knew what Rubio could do on a basketball court. And then, of course, there was that magnificent double overtime game in Oklahoma City that saw Barea and Durant notch triple doubles and Love score 51 while pulling down 14 rebounds. Continue Reading…

That’s the only thing we’re going to remember from this game and probably rightfully so.

The Lakers gave the Wolves a lot of opportunities to stay in this game. They played horrendous defense throughout much of the second half and the Wolves fought back to make it a game, thanks to Smite-a-Dwight in the 10th minute of the fourth quarter, a rare missed free throw from Steve Nash, and a rare missed free throw from Kobe Bryant. After Bryant’s missed free throw, Rubio grabbed the board and avoided Kobe as he hauled tail up the court. He released a low percentage runner that never really got a chance to go in because Kobe contested the shot.

In the process of contesting the shot, Bryant hacked Rubio across the forearm. It isn’t the most egregious non-call in NBA history, but it’s certainly a foul that should have been called because it potentially influenced the outcome of the game. Was it more important than the moments in the game that led to 120 points by the Lakers? Absolutely not. But it’s still a chance at a player tying the game and sending it to overtime that was taken away because of a foul that wasn’t called.  Continue Reading…

You can see pretty easily where things started to work for the Timberwolves in this game by looking at this handy game flow chart, courtesy of ESPN.com.

gameflow

First, the bad news: Obviously, neither teamed scored 140 points. Continue Reading…

WolfBull

“A broken clock is right twice a day.”

This is one of those sayings that is supposed to be clever and profound, but all it does is make me irate when people use it as a crutch for a terrible argument. Sure, a broken clock is correct twice a day, unless you’re in the military — then it’s correct only once a day. And the rest of the 1,439 minutes, you’re left looking at a time holder that is incorrect and you start wondering how you can get this clock fixed. Or maybe you’re wondering if you need to get a new clock altogether.

The point is a broken clock needs to be fixed. Depending on the type of clock, it could just need new batteries or it could need to be wound up. Or maybe there is a gear that’s completely disconnected. Regardless, if you want that same clock to work then you need to figure out what’s wrong with it and how to get it back to keeping the intended time.  Continue Reading…

Although in our hearts we always suspected it to be true, we couldn’t help feeling a little distressed over Rick Adelman’s admission yesterday that he is considering walking away from the Wolves this coming summer. (Though you certainly can’t blame the guy for wanting to actually live with his ailing wife, especially after a pair of seasons as cosmically aggravating as these past two.) We can talk all we want about Derrick Williams’ development or Nikola Pekovic’s contract, but the truth is that the middle-term future of this franchise rests entirely upon the relationship between Rick Adelman, Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love. Take out one vertex of that triangle and, one suspects, the entire spindly structure might collapse.

Continue Reading…

761085

Today we’re going to talk about the philosophical concept of microcosm. Don’t run away! This stuff is cool, I promise. Or, at least as cool as looking at how a season’s worth of frustration can be contained and reflected in a minute and a half of basketball.

Here we go: Continue Reading…