Archives For Game Analysis

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…

WolvesBenchQuestionMark

For weeks, I’ve been banging the drum of waiting for the turn in the schedule. While inconsistencies have teased our basketball hearts and frustrations have mounted, I’ve preached patience and perspective in this 82-game campaign. Their early schedule was pretty brutal. Lots of back-to-backs on the road and against really good teams. Lots of one game home “stretches” that required a ton of weird travel. The strength of schedule has been tough as well. Heading into tonight’s game against the Washington Wizards, the Wolves are tied with the Los Angeles Lakers for the third toughest schedule this season.

Of the top 10 toughest schedules in the NBA, only the Golden State Warriors (17-13), Phoenix Suns (17-10), Oklahoma City Thunder (23-5), and San Antonio Spurs (23-7) have winning records despite their tough slate to begin the season. The Wolves had the next best record of the bunch at 13-15. They have been treading water and avoiding going under, even though their inconsistent play has been driving a lot of fans and people around the area crazy. The stink of 10 sad years of basketball has been unfairly placed on this current version of the Wolves, not properly resetting expectations and feelings of what this roster is in the process.

Tread water and get to the much easier stretch of games in January. Then we find out what this team is truly made of for the rest of this season. Continue Reading…

RickyRicky

This was an annoying loss. There are a couple of go-to scapegoats you could give for this loss. Wolves were on the second night of a road back-to-back and we saw a lot of missed shots that would normally be easy makes. The Wolves were also playing without their second leading scorer and the 16th leading scorer in the NBA Kevin Martin. Losing all of that firepower will certainly hurt your attack, even though he hasn’t been good the last three games because of a knee issue.

The Celtics are also a much more competitive team than most initially thought heading into the season. Brad Stevens is a fantastic coach and they all seem to know the role they’re supposed to play. Give them the home court advantage and this is a team that can be a handful to deal with on any given night in the NBA. Those are all perfectly good excuses for why the Wolves didn’t win Monday night in Boston. And they had a chance to win. They were down one with about 30 seconds left until a wildly errant 3-point attempt by JJ Barea allowed the Celtics to get into the “fouling game.” Minnesota played horrendous, in “tough” conditions, and still had a chance to win this game on the road. Plenty of excuses at our disposal for this one.

Those excuses are crap.  Continue Reading…

We went through what the Memphis Grizzlies fans are going through right now. You’re without your best player and other teams are picking on you in the process. This happens because nobody in the NBA cares if you’re injured, sick, or apathetic. Show a weakness and any good team will come through and destroy you because of it. As long as they’re taking you seriously on the court, they’re going to bully you and be mean in every way they can to take advantage of the wounded animal.

It’s survival of the fittest. Sure, you’ll see the occasional team backed into a corner and claw their way out but that fight is only available so many times throughout a season, as we saw with the injured Wolves in 2012-13. Eventually, talent wins out and the injuries become too much to overcome. The Grizzlies don’t have Marc Gasol right now because of an MCL sprain and Quincy Pondexter is out for the rest of the season. That eliminates the best player and probably the best role player the Grizzlies have coming off the bench. They’ve adjusted to put up a decent enough attack, but the Wolves at relative full strength to their core should be able to capitalize and come away with a win.

The problem with Sunday’s game was that the Wolves seemed to play the Grizzlies like the team we’re used to seeing and weren’t able to adjust to their change of style within the game. Whether that’s coaching or executing or both, there was some disconnect that allowed a scrappy team to stay in for pretty much the entire 48 minutes.  Continue Reading…

KD

Tickle Me Elmo can go kick rocks. I want a Kevin Durant for Christmas. How do you get one of those? Are they harder to find than a PS4 right now? Does anybody know where I can get a PS4 and a Kevin Durant right now?

I firmly believe Kevin Love is a star in this league and capable of leading a really good team deep into the playoffs. I’m not sure I believe he’s that guy on a true title contender, but Love is certainly good enough to get a team toward the end of the second round. Maybe if you get a road like the Memphis Grizzlies had last year, you could see Love getting a shot in the Western Conference finals in the future with a team like the Wolves have put around him. There are plenty of detractors when it comes to Love as a franchise piece. Personally, I think it’s crazy to look at what he does on a basketball court and say he isn’t a number one guy.

His skill set is sort of unmatched in the NBA. He has a unique blend of finesse and power in his game and we all know he allegedly does the most with the least. He can score inside, outside, midrange, and get his team easy buckets with his passing ability. He’s the top rebounder in the NBA. And the team is actually significantly better defensively with him on the floor this season than when he’s out of the game. Whether that’s by coincidence or production, I’m not sure we have enough evidence to say just quite yet.

However, there are number one players on a franchise team and then there is Kevin Durant.  Continue Reading…

Pacers

I feel like every time I write about this matchup between the Wolves and Pacers, I end up with the same recap.

This is a terrible matchup for the Wolves. I don’t think they have too many bad match-ups at this point in the roster construction process. Put them against most any team in the league and I like their chances of remaining competitive. Throw the Thunder, Spurs, Clippers, and even the Heat at the Wolves and I think we’ll get a great showdown. This Wolves team can get out and create space for itself. They can play physical basketball that gets them to the free throw line and gets in the head of the other team, causing them to get even more space as to not get into foul trouble. I really do believe the Wolves can play with just about anybody.

They just can’t stick with this Indiana team for an entire 48 minutes, especially not now that the Pacers have a bench that can score and a wing that can take over. Continue Reading…

Aaron Brooks did what

I try to stay pretty measured when I’m talking about basketball for a very egotistical reason: I like being right.

I wish I had a nobler quest for discussing basketball but for the most part, I don’t see the point of taking a biased look at the NBA when it could stop you from being correct. I realize what an elitist attempt at viewing the NBA this ideology is but I’m being honest when I say that I like being right more than I like talking myself into my team being better than it might be. Some people aren’t built like that. They want to immerse themselves in the team, hope for the absolute best, talk up the guys they love watching and supporting (emotionally and financially), and be ride or die with their team.

I don’t fault that kind of thinking at all. It just doesn’t work for me just like my way of approaching it doesn’t work for a lot of people. One way is fun for some and not for others, and vice-versa. What does this little insight into my thought process have to do with the Wolves losing to the Houston Rockets? Continue Reading…