Archives For 2013-14 Season

To the sad internet troll that will eventually try to chime in:

Yes, Ricky Rubio is a bad shooter.

Yes, Ricky Rubio is a bad finisher around the basket.

Yes, the Minnesota Timberwolves haven’t made the playoffs in a decade.

Yes, the Minnesota Timberwolves aren’t going to make the playoffs this coming season.

Yes, the acquisition of the young players they have is currently more flash than substance.

Yes, the Minnesota Timberwolves have never made the Finals nor have they won a championship.

We’re still going to have fun watching this team and Rubio is a big part of that. It’s all passes, but that’s what he does and he does it about as well as anybody in the NBA. Excited to watch him make these passes to young guys running the floor, cutting to the basket, and bringing the spectacular on their dunks.

Opening night is 63 days away.

Gary Oldman Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead

Rosencrantz: We might as well be dead. Do you think death could possibly be a boat?

Guildenstern: No, no, no … Death is … not. Death isn’t. You take my meaning. Death is the ultimate negative. Not-being. You can’t not-be on a boat.

Rosencrantz: I’ve frequently not been on boats.

Guildenstern: No, no, no — what you’ve been is not on boats.

—Tom Stoppard

There’s a natural tendency for us to want endings to resonate. It’s why we put so much stock in things like the finales of Breaking Bad or True Detective or Lost. An ending is supposed to cast light back on what came before, to contextualize an experience, to put a punctuation mark on it. Even those of us who are pretty much okay with ambiguous endings like the fade at the end of The Sopranos or Don Gately waking up alone on a beach on the last page of Infinite Jest can still get suckered by that craving for some kind of final chord, whether resolved or suspended, a giant crash of three pianos playing a giant E at the end of “A Day In the Life.”

When this kind of closure fails to appear in sports, it’s doubly troubling. Every team — like more or less every person — likes to imagine themselves at the center of whatever story is being told, but the truth is that every season is only going to offer up one main character, one triumphant hero. There’s a reason Sports Illustrated puts out a handsomely bound edition that collects everything written about the Super Bowl or World Series or NBA Champions. Collected into a narrative that ends in crowning victory, everything starts to make sense.

But along the way, major supporting characters, minor supporting characters and extras all fall under the blade in service of that bigger story. If the eventual NBA champion is the hero of The Odyssey, enduring detours and overcoming challenges on the long road home, the runner-up is the hero of Hamlet, coming tantalizingly close to victory only to be felled at the last moment.

Which makes the 2013-14 Minnesota Timberwolves sort of like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Continue Reading…

Hand-in-face-of-Stephen-Curry

The season is nearly over, and heaven help me, I’ve given into the temptation to daydream. For the third straight season, realistic hopes for the playoffs have been dashed, leaving some (many?) bitter and disappointed about what might have been. We all know about the team’s struggles in the clutch (and superclutch), injury bugs biting Big Pek and K-Mart during the stretch run, the woes of the bench unit, accusations that Rick Adelman is sleepwalking through his final season, and on, and on, and on.

During the first quarter of Monday night’s loss to the Warriors, all I could think about is how much fun a 7-game series between the Wolves and Warriors would be. Continue Reading…

GorguiAward

Somewhere in the story of this late-season road loss to the Sacramento Kings is the story line to the Minnesota Timberwolves’ season.

The story lines of this Wolves’ season have been fascinating. They’re constantly evolving and being forgotten as something new to focus on comes along. And yet, as the story lines change, they’re largely telling the same tale. This is a weirdly good team that finds ways to not have consistent success. And that in fact makes people think this team is bad, even though they’re really not. They’re neither bad nor good. They excel and fail at the same time. They’re basically a neutral team, which in the Western Conference is considered a bad team.

But mostly it’s just not good enough. The viewpoints on the Wolves are ultimately contradictory because they force the narrative to play this way. One day the team makes sense; the next day it doesn’t. Blame coaching. Blame a lack of leadership amongst the players in the locker room. Blame B. Wright for screaming at fans to kiss and then pretending they’ve gone too far as he’s plugging quarters to keep the screen up.

Regardless of what you want to believe about this team, there are days when you’re vindicated for your opinion and days in which this team will vilify you for thinking such things. The revisionist history with this team is every evolving and always fascinating. Continue Reading…

20131002__10-2 Wolves Kevin Martin

If you have ESPN Insider and a stout constitution, you should go read Tom Haberstroh‘s post on the Timberwolves in general and Kevin Martin in particular in the superclutch (defined as one possession games in the final minute) right here.

But if you don’t, let me share the highlights (read: lowlights).

I present to you the single craziest stat of the 2013-14 season: In one-possession games (score within three) in the final minute — also known as “superclutch” situations — the Timberwolves have been outscored by 49 points in 22 minutes of action this season. I repeat: 49 points.

Minnesota’s opponents have scored 96 points to the Timberwolves’ 47. The Timberwolves have been more than doubled up in these tight situations. The result is that, when it should be a coin flip in these situations, Minnesota has lost 18 of those 25 games. Continue Reading…

Photoshop by Jon Hartzell (@jhartzell2)

Photoshop by Jon Hartzell (@jhartzell2)

It’s nearly 11 pm and we’re in the Timberwolves locker room waiting for Corey Brewer to pee. And no, this league-mandated drug test is not because he scored what must be up there with the most unlikely 51 points ever scored in an NBA game — it’s just a coincidence.

Here’s what I thought I would be writing about this game earlier in the day, pretty much win or lose: How Rick Adelman is likely going to slip away from this franchise without a shred of fanfare and how that’s genuinely kind of sad, no matter how disappointing this season has been or how much blame you lay at his feet for that disappointment. With this season drifting gently to its conclusion for the Wolves, a nice win over a shorthanded Spurs team feels good, but maybe not quite as good as a victory over the Heat in double overtime. They both feel better than a loss to Orlando. But what every game has in common at this point is an unmoored feeling, a sense that we’re scraping the jar for a story to tell ourselves at this point. We’re stitching the box scores together into a sail when the tides will be more than enough to bring us into shore after next week’s final game against Utah, one way or another.

But tonight is different somehow, and not because it means more, but maybe because it makes so little sense. Some guys were good, some guys were not so good. Ricky Rubio (16 pts, 10 asts), Gorgui Dieng (12 pts, 20 rebs) and Dante Cunningham (20 pts, 13 rebs) all had double-doubles. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute shot abysmally (1-7) and — in spite of a porous Rockets team lacking their only real defensive assets in Patrick Beverley and Dwight Howard — he and the Wolves as a whole took a lot of ill-advised midrange jumpers, rather than getting into the paint.

But you know who got into the paint? Corey Wayne Brewer, who made 16 of his 19 shots in the restricted area on his way to a nearly incomprehensible 51. His previous career high was 29, his season average going into tonight, 11.7 ppg. Kevin Love scored 51 in double overtime against the Thunder. Brewer did it in 45 minutes. Continue Reading…

AggressiveRubio

The Minnesota Timberwolves lost a random game on a back-to-back against a team that is much better than them, even with big injuries to their core. This is not new, nor is it really shocking at all. A night after the Wolves inexplicably blew out the San Antonio Spurs the night before and William Bohl tried to murder the idea of the culinary arts, the Wolves just didn’t have it for a full 48 minutes against the Chicago Bulls. Joakim Noah and the defense was simply too much for the Wolves and they got handled in the second half.

C’est la vie.

But once again at the end of a dead season, Ricky Rubio was extremely aggressive with his shot selection, especially early. He’s taken a lot more shots since the season was ended for the Wolves and even though he’s been historically bad as a shot-maker, I think I’m on board with an aggressive Rubio because it seems to get him going in games and give the defense something else to worry about. Let’s discuss, shall we?  Continue Reading…

Oklahoma City Thunder v San Antonio Spurs - Game FiveVery little of what happened at Target Center on Tuesday night made much sense.

San Antonio wasn’t supposed to make a trip to Minnesota this season; this game was supposed to have happened in Mexico City way back on December 4th. That night, a fire started in an elevator shaft, smoke filled the arena, and the whole thing was called off, rescheduled for some random night in April, which turned out to be last night. Continue Reading…

tv_static_2

Did you even watch this game?

There were several reasons why you probably didn’t. For one, Fox Sports North didn’t televise it, even though its broadcast team was already in Florida, having covered Friday night’s victory over the Miami Heat. So, unless you’ve got League Pass, you were out of luck. Secondly, it’d be tough to blame you for skipping out once you heard the litany of players who’d be unavailable for the Wolves: Kevin Love (back spasms), Kevin Martin (ankle), Shabazz Muhammad (knee) and Nikola Pekovic (ankle). The injuries, plus the release of A.J. Price on Thursday, left Minnesota with 10 available players, one of whom was Alexey Shved, so really, the number was more like 9. Last, and not least, the Final Four was going on, and both of its games were wildly entertaining, so it’d be understandable if that distracted you. Continue Reading…

Sometimes, an entertaining game of basketball is just that: entertainment. That’s — in its own perverse way — the blessing of the denouement of the kind of season that Timberwolves fans have grown accustomed to over the last several years. Go back a decade and the Wolves were the #1 seed in the Western Conference, following years where the end of season concern was getting out of the first round. Just after that, entire seasons were slogs, lit only dimly by some notion of rebuilding the team with little consistent direction to indicate such a thing was even happening. Continue Reading…