Archives For Game Analysis

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…

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…

RonnyTime

You know that friend every group seems to have with the infectious existence?

It doesn’t matter what is going on with the group, if that person has an energy about them, it will emanate to everybody else and they’ll adapt to fit said energy. If that infectious friend smiles, everybody around them smiles. If that person belts out a big laugh, everybody starts laughing along. If that person wants to rob a bank, everybody gets their ski masks and starts looking for escape routes.

If Ronny Turiaf wanted to rob a bank last night, there would have been 12,009 people behind him looking up the schematics of the banks and determining how much time they had to raid the main vault. You always have to get out of there in under 90 seconds. That’s just standard operating procedure. After about six weeks off due to a scary knee injury that was diagnosed as a bone bruise, Turiaf made his return to the second unit Wednesday night and helped keep the spark alive with a team that had pride and effort questions floating around it lately.  Continue Reading…

LoveBallad

After the Wolves lost at home to the a struggling New York Knicks team (which apparently was about to start finally fighting for their playoff lives), I have to admit I mentally checked out for the season.

I’m not one to really overreact to a win or loss. I try to stay even-keeled for the most part because the process of the season has so many peaks and valleys that it will drive you crazy if you get too frustrated or too high from the losses and wins. Plus, I’m a big believer in you don’t really know the whole scope of what you’re looking at until you can reflect back on the season in its entirety and figure out what exactly happened. Until then, it’s a lot of guesswork, which can be fine but it leads to frustration with a team like this.

The alternative though is you can get sucked into shutting down mentally and emotionally with the team. You check out and that’s where I was when the loss to the Knicks happened. Since then, I’ve been mostly unaffected by the wins and losses, just focusing on the individual play of some to get me through the end of the season. I’ve hoped for a .500 record and for the Wolves to keep their pick, and they’re currently on pace for that.

And the rest, I’ve become pretty numb to, which brings us to Kevin Love.  Continue Reading…

LoveContest

We’ve been here before, hoping for competitive losses.

I should clarify. I’ve certainly been here before. I can’t assume you guys are necessarily there with me and based on the frustration flowing through my Twitter feed and some of the local media on Sunday, I might be mostly alone on this one for now. That’s probably the case because this is the latest in a season the Wolves have been competitive in about a decade. It’s also probably because the expectations heading into this season were competing for the playoffs. With roughly three weeks left, it would take two monumental collapses and the Wolves not collapsing to make that a reality.

Because of the draft pick implications heading into the game against the Phoenix Suns, my hopes for the game were for it to be extremely competitive and for the Wolves to protect their draft pick lives. Losing to the Suns was going to all but guarantee they keep the pick, assuming the Suns don’t come through on the 1.8% chance of landing a top 3 pick on the night of the lottery (that’s also assuming they don’t make the playoffs). The Suns making the playoffs altogether would actually be ideal because the Wolves would almost certainly keep the pick.

What I wanted out of Sunday’s game happened.  Continue Reading…

RickyBuckets2

I’m not going to be unrealistic here. That was a bit flukey.

Ricky Rubio became the new Ricky Buckets, if only for a night, and it was largely due to a pretty mediocre at best Dallas Mavericks’ defense. I don’t know why Jose Calderon was pressuring Rubio when he had the ball 30 feet from the basket. I don’t know why Calderon lets guys turn the corner on him with such little resistance. I don’t know why Samuel Dalembert wears cement shoes. I don’t know why Monta Ellis plays horrendous defense and then pretends it’s the refs’ fault. Whatever the answers to those issues are, Rubio did arguably the best job attacking a defense I’ve ever seen.

And while I’m going to be realistic about a game like this and note its flukey nature like I did above, it’s not going to stop be from enjoying the hell out of this performance. 22 points, 15 assists, 10 rebounds, and four steals with 8/12 shooting from the field and 7/9 in the restricted area.  Continue Reading…

DerrickLuc

I’m fascinated with how we judge/view trades. As soon as a trade is completed, we judge the winners and losers of a trade. This is weird because we don’t wait to see how it works; we simply project our own values and expertise onto the transaction and start deciding how good or bad a deal is.

I don’t necessarily have a problem with this. I certainly do it as well and usually am the one volunteering on CBSSports.com to write the Grade the Trade posts. It’s really fun to figure out which teams are benefitting from a deal and which teams are Kahn’ing their fan base into thinking it’s a good idea. But it’s also important to keep constant perspective on what’s happening with both teams as previous trades are constantly evolving.

After Derrick Williams lit up the Wolves in a losing effort Sunday night, re-grading the trade seemed to be all anybody wanted to talk about, now that the season is all but done in terms of making the playoffs. If we’re going to do that, it’s important to look at all aspects of what is being discussed and where both teams are with their respective players. Continue Reading…

RickyJennings

Look, we know this season has been sort of frustrating for the Minnesota Timberwolves and their fans. The close games have left us wondering just how unlucky/unfortunate/unwilling to hit a shot a team can be. They’ve shown flashes of brilliance all around, put up the kind of team numbers that scream playoffs, and yet it looks like they’ll need a minor miracle in order to push their way into the playoffs.

I’ll have to admit that between Steve McPherson being incapable of recapping a win and the Wolves being incapable of winning more than one quarter against the New York Knicks the other night, it broke me in terms of holding out hope for this season. Now I’m just hoping the Wolves finish out the season strong without losing their draft pick in the process (seriously Kahn, how do you not hold out for full lottery protection, you incompetent monster?!). That’s pretty much what it’s come to unless some serious moving and shaking happens above them. And I guess I’m fine with this after the blowout victory over the Detroit Pistons Friday night.  Continue Reading…

LoveNuggets

There are so many possible places to go with this game recap that is never really a recap of the actual game but a rumination about something bigger happening within the construct of the season.

There’s the road trip the Wolves needed to nail and did. Right before the trip, I commented on how the Wolves needed to go at least 3-2 on this trip and preferably go 4-1 in order for them to have an outside chance at still making a playoff run. They managed to go 4-1, with the only loss coming in Portland on the second night of a back-to-back in which the Wolves were still missing their second and third options on offense (yes, the Blazers were missing LaMarcus Aldridge). They closed it out in a tough place (Denver) against a team that was getting healthier for this game. Ty Lawson returned and Wilson Chandler returned, giving the Nuggets a much better attack than we’ve seen in previous weeks.

Successful road trips can be spark plugs for a young-ish core (in this case, one that isn’t terribly experienced) still trying to figure out how to win. After seeing the upcoming schedule for the Wolves, you hope this successful road trip was a bonding experience reminding the players involved that success is possible when they bring the type of energy and execution they’re supposed to, especially against weaker opponents.

And then there are different aspects in the game itself, which scream of the intricacies and curiosities of the NBA game.  Continue Reading…

LoveTripleDip

What can you accomplish in 32 minutes and 35 seconds?

You can run a load of laundry. You can probably cook a really nice dinner as long as the preparation isn’t too time-consuming. You can watch an episode of Full House with commercials and even pause it on the DVR to use the bathroom or play Words With Friends without distraction during each move. All the while, you’re pondering how Joey Gladstone possibly made enough money to not be a complete burden on the Tanner family household. What Kevin Love was able to do in just 32 minutes and 35 seconds last night was pretty ridiculous.

And once again, Love set another weird “record.”  Continue Reading…