Archives For Game Analysis

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…

No one expected much from the Timberwolves on Wednesday night in Oklahoma City, where they were set to play the red-hot Thunder, winners of 11 of 12 coming in. Not only had Minnesota played the night before, the starters logging big minutes in a closer-than-it-needed-to-be victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, but Corey Brewer would miss the game (for the happiest of reasons – his son was born on Tuesday), and Nikola Pekovic would again sit due to his (ongoing) ankle bursitis issues. Twenty minutes before tip, it was confirmed that Kevin Love, the conduit through which the entire Wolves’ offense flows, would not dress due to a stiff neck. The writing was on the wall: Wednesday night would be a loss.

When the Love news came down, all I could think about were the new, interesting lineup possibilities and offensive strategies Rick Adelman could employ for the game. Maybe I’m desperate for silver linings, but once I conceded the (likely) loss, I shifted my focus to the little things – would Luc Richard Mbah a Moute get extended minutes? How about Gorgui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad? Would Kevin Martin shoot 40 times? Had Robbie Hummel, who’s been wearing suits for a while now, remembered to bring his uniform on the road trip? Continue Reading…

Love halves

Oh, the Minnesota Timberwolves, as vexing and perplexing as ever, up one night and down the next, from one half to the next, one quarter to the next, one possession to the next. If anything is consistent, it’s their inconsistency. They haven’t lost more than three in a row, nor have they won more than three in a row. They blow out bad teams on the road and fail to hold serve against mediocre teams at home. They shoot 7 free throws as a team one night, and 39 the next. Their rotations are an ever-changing, ever-controversial sea of head-scratching decisions and perfect harmony. In short, no one’s sure what to expect, and each evening provides a unique, yet eerily familiar, story. Continue Reading…

AdelmanDefiant

The Wolves lost another four-point game.

This one was deceiving though. The Wolves were down big early then came roaring (howling?) back to take the lead for some time in the fourth quarter. Then they gave up the lead and the game was pretty much decided in the final minute with a five to seven-point margin of defeat before some random offensive possessions brought the final deficit to four points. It was one of those odd endings that skew the numbers like a couple of other games have, but that’s neither here nor there.

What’s on everybody’s mind is the decisions made in this ball game because that’s ultimately what it came down to: decisions. With so many questions about these decisions from the fans and media tonight, I figured I’d just answer every question about this game and the Wolves and the meaning of life and the coach and Kevin Love leaving and whatever else can come up.  Continue Reading…

LoveMath

There was a point early on in the Wolves’ win over the Chicago Bulls in which Kevin Love was struggling. He wasn’t playing poorly but he was having trouble finding his way to the free throw line against Taj Gibson and Nazr Mohammed. The struggles against Taj Gibson aren’t anything new for Love, or anybody around the league really. Gibson is one of the top defensive players in the NBA and rarely gets his national due because he’s a role player off the bench.

Taj is familiar with Love’s game too. They’ve played against each other on every level of play — high school, college, and in the NBA. Along with his defensive prowess, his familiarity with Love may be a big reason he’s had such great success defending the Wolves’ big man throughout their respective careers. Before Monday night, Love was 0-5 against Gibson at the NBA level. Love’s had three pretty awful games against the Bulls in this time, one decent game, and one Kevin Love game.

Overall, he was shooting 40% in these match-ups and attempted just 19 free throws in five losses. The Bulls have been a great defensive team during this run (analysis!) and part of the reason they’re so good is they know the angles to take, when to take them, and use their incredible frontcourt to slow guys down. Even Carlos Boozer is a plus-defender in Tom Thibodeau’s system, or at least enough of a plus-defender to hold the fort as Joakim Noah and Gibson protect his back.

So what changed for Love during Monday’s game to finally give him a big advantage against Gibson, Boozer, and Thibodeau’s system?  Continue Reading…

Toronto Tourism ad: ‘White Vegas’ from The Basketball Jones on Vimeo.

I came away with three thoughts about the Wolves’ most recent loss, which was probably the one I’ve been the most accepting of (because I expected it) and the one that was simultaneously the most frustrating even though I had accepted their fate long before tip-off.

The first thought was about that acceptance of the loss, knowing it was coming while not trying to approach that submissive thought from a pessimistic origin. The Wolves simply don’t win in Toronto. After last night’s “effort”, they’ve dropped to 3-16 there all-time and they haven’t won there since 2004 when the Wolves last fielded a team that seemed to give a damn whilst being able to do something about it. This is the exact kind of “marriage to the old guard” I’ve been hoping people would divorce themselves of with a new regime and a very talented roster. And yet, here I am latching on to negativity of the past, simply because the nightlife of Toronto seems to call this organization.

This game seemed to go the exact same way most of these affairs in T Dot go. Seemingly poor execution met with malaise and a dash of “is this game over yet?” After the first quarter, I was hoping the bench would get extended minutes. After the bench got extended minutes, I was hoping the starters would have a fire lit under them. After that, I was hoping the bench would play a lot of minutes in the second half. And by the end, I was waiting for the Raptors to tell us they had to get up early and rush out the door for a waiting taxi. There was also a sick part of me that wanted the game to end in a loss of four points or less, but that’s just me losing my mind at the moment.  Continue Reading…

LovePost

I’m not sure a game like this loss to the San Antonio Spurs is ever good, per se.

The Spurs established their dominance by playing exactly how they love to play. The Wolves never were able to take back control of the game or dictate their own style. While both teams like to move the ball up the floor and use brilliant decision-making and passing to put the defense on their heels, the Spurs do it in a much less chaotic style. The Wolves can play that structured tempo the Spurs love to throw at their opponents, but everything has to be clicking for the Wolves.

Things certainly weren’t clicking Sunday night, outside of Nikola Pekovic continuing his torrid affair with scoring the basketball and being a presence inside. Kevin Love couldn’t seem to find a way to hit a shot or get past the solid defender that is Boris Diaw (that’s not pejorative either; he’s become a defensive presence). Kevin Martin couldn’t finish inside and he couldn’t knock down a jumper. Corey Brewer looked lost on both ends of the floor as he was a non-factor on offense and he got destroyed by Kawhi Leonard on the other end. Ricky Rubio distributed well but just couldn’t have a big impact against Tony Parker.

So while this loss wasn’t good for the Wolves as I stated above, sometimes it’s a nice reminder of just how important each part of the system is, so you don’t lose sight of the value of each component.  Continue Reading…

PekHappy

The hardest thing for me when it comes to writing about basketball is figuring out what to write when the Wolves blow somebody out. Everything typically goes correctly, because that’s how blowouts happen. There’s something odd about writing, “hey, the game plan worked!” especially when it’s against a bad team that is missing key players.

I’ve had a hard time coming up with stuff to say about the game, which might be a good thing. The Wolves had a bad collapse at the end of the loss to the Suns that sent everybody into a craze. It was the Wolvespocalypse and nothing was ever going to be sane again. Kevin Love was demanding a trade. Ricky Rubio needed more D-League time than Shabazz Muhammad. And the game had passed Rick Adelman by and he needed to get fired. These were obviously some of the extreme reactions to what happened.

And then they bounce back by taking care of business the next day. This has been the pattern for the team, which shows resilience but it doesn’t show growth. The question ends up being is resilience enough?  Continue Reading…

EdMaLOLy

If you want to be cute about how you view the final play of this game, you immediately pull out the old rule book and read off the section in which the “hand is part of the ball.” It’s a valid rule. I cite it often when a player gets hit on the hand as he’s going up for a shot. The hand is literally part of the ball in the NBA rulebook and it’s a good rule. It’s not just an excuse for Sidney Deane to avoid getting a foul called on him when going to Sizzler is possibly on the line (I know that didn’t happen during the Sizzler bet but you try leaving that out and see how fun it is).

Here’s the problem with citing the “hand is part of the ball” rule: when you reach across someone’s body and have to make contact with the wrist and forearm in order to make contact with the hand, it kind of negates the citation of said rule. And by “kind of” I mean it completely negates it. That’s the problem I have with this conversation. You can view this play as a blown call and it doesn’t mean the league is running rampant with Tim Donaghy clones that are lying to avoid laws he doesn’t understand. Continue Reading…