Archives For Game Analysis

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…

Check the highlight reel above from Tuesday night’s loss to the Washington Wizards.

That’s John Wall and Bradley Beal destroying your beloved Wolves. As I kept looking over stuff from this game, I couldn’t help but keep coming back to the image of Wall and his cohorts ramming the ball into the face of the Wolves transition defense all night long. You can blame all kinds of things in this game for the poor effort and execution. Fans were upset at Ricky Rubio not being in the game for almost all of the fourth quarter when JJ Barea was out there. They were upset at the lack of defense being displayed on the court. It was another hot start followed by a drop-off.  Continue Reading…

LoveDenver

I’m not sure what you blame this one on but I do think it was a fascinating game.

There’s the altitude issue that we can start with when looking at this game. Honestly, I know it’s a thing that players have to adjust to on the fly but I don’t think it should take away from the effort and decision-making. If it’s going to be harder for you to move because you need to catch your second wind, you should be playing a much better mental game than what we saw from the Wolves tonight. Early on in the game, it wasn’t that they couldn’t get to their rotations. We simply didn’t see the rotations on a lot of these plays at the basket.

So what is that all about?  Continue Reading…

JackLakers

With 42.7 seconds left in the fourth quarter of the Wolves-Lakers game, we had this exchange between Dave Benz and Jim Petersen while the game was delayed to spray blood off of the shorts of Pau Gasol:

“You do that don’t you? You sprits to get the mold off, don’t you?” – Jim Petersen

“No, I don’t sprits any furniture, Jim.” – Dave Benz

“You don’t do your own yard work. You hire it out, don’t you?” – Jim

“No, no, no. I do my own yard work. I do. 52 bags of leaves and counting at this point, for what it’s worth.” – Dave

“Well, that’s a complete waste of time. You do your own leaves?” – Jim

“I do my own leaves. I like the yard work!” – Dave

What’s the point of typing out this exchange and having it lead off the game recap for the Wolves’ victory over the Lakers? This is what we call “blowout talk” and it’s a beautiful thing. There are two kinds of blowout talk. There’s the somber dissection by a broadcasting team that involves a lot of “this team needs to do…” and “we need to start seeing [player x] assert himself…” kind of analysis. Then there’s what I’m going to call “yard work talk” the rest of this season.

“Yard work talk” is the playful banter between a play-by-play caller and the analyst sitting next to him when the game is out of line in favor of the team they’re covering. If you have a good crew with a good working relationship, you can get little nuggets like these from time to time. Sometimes it develops as the analyst telling stories of their playing days. Sometime it develops as these quick little personal stories about Dave Benz fighting off leaves in the yard like Kevin Love fights off potential rebounders.

When the Wolves are putting it on a team like the Lakers or any bad team that they should be dominating, the “yard work talk” is basically the human victory cigar. It’s the lineup of A.J. Price, Shabazz Muhammad, Robbie Hummel, Derrick Williams, and Gorgui Dieng. And if this team is going to be the team we hope it can be this season, the presence of “yard work talk” should be around roughly a dozen times.  Continue Reading…

WolvesKnicks

There’s a certain period of adjustment in expectations when you’ve got a bad team becoming a good team.

You have a time in which the first quarter excellence isn’t such a surprise; it just becomes what you expect. Then the double-digit leads are expected to be kept throughout most of the game. Then you stop telling yourself stuff like, “as long as the other team doesn’t get it below 12 in the next few minutes, we should be fine.” After that, you stop assuming the team is going to not only blow the lead, but the game altogether. It’s such a weird process for dealing with a team going from being perennially bad to being currently good.

I’m not sure the Wolves are officially a good team yet, but the signs are there through the first three games that make me believe they could be pretty soon. Against the New York Knicks Sunday night, we saw everything we’ve expected and feared about this team rolled into one 48-minute contest. It was the same thing we saw when them beat the Orlando Magic, which was more annoying than terrifying because of the caliber of the opponent. But against the Knicks, unraveling on the road sort of became a certainty as the second half progressed and the team panicked before pulling themselves together.

That panic is the period of adjustment with expectations that the team needs to figure out as well. Continue Reading…