NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Brooklyn Nets

The Timberwolves jumped out to a hot start in last night’s game, which is not actually new. Last season, Minnesota boasted an offensive rating of 111.1 and a defensive rating of 101.1, good for a Bo Derek-approved net rating of 10.0. The problem, of course, was in the fourth quarter, where they only mustered a 98.1 offensive rating against a defensive rating of 107.8 — good for a net rating of -9.7, a swing of nearly twenty points. But we’ll get to the ending in short order. Continue Reading…

Nikola Pekovic

Yes, Deron Williams isn’t the player he was in Utah, but he still gets you 18 and 8 on most nights. No point guard sees a matchup against Brooklyn as a night off. He’s still a beast.

Yes, Brook Lopez has a lengthy injury history to his record, but a healthy Brook is still a dangerous Brook.

Yes, Joe Johnson doesn’t deserve to have the third biggest paycheck in the NBA, but he’s still giving the Nets very good (All-Star caliber?) production in the latter stages of his career.

Speaking of latter stages, yes, Kevin Garnett is nowhere near the dominant two-way player the he once was, but he’s still a useful starter in spot minutes. Plus, this just happened a couple days ago.

Lastly, it’s true the Nets aren’t the title contenders some hoped they’d be when they acquired Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce a year ago. Still, you’ll see them competing in the playoffs this spring.

The Nets are the ultimate “yeah, but still” team in the NBA, and they’re who the Timberwolves face off against tonight to start their November road trip.

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(Note: I really wanted to put up a video for “The Future” by Restorations, but couldn’t find one. It’s on Spotify if you want to hear it.)

Here are two things that aggravate me: moral victories and people who complain about them. Lucky for us, then, that tonight’s close loss to the Chicago Bulls was not a moral victory. It was a loss. But when I said it was a good loss, several people got at me to say they were tired of moral victories as Timberwolves fans. So here’s what we need to do: stop talking about moral victories and also stop being sick of them. Continue Reading…

RubioExtension

About a month ago, maybe even a week ago, the likelihood of a contract extension for Ricky Rubio with the Minnesota Timberwolves seemed very low. Rubio’s agent was asking for a max contract, according to reports and rumors, and the Wolves were never going to pay the max in a rising salary cap situation. Committing that much money to Rubio would be an optimistic investment, considering his scoring woes, to say the least. However with the last couple hours before the extension deadline for the 2011 rookie class, the Wolves and Rubio finally came to a much more manageable compromise.

Reports have come out that Rubio and the Wolves agreed to a four-year, $55 million-plus contract extension that will keep Rubio with the Wolves through the 2018-19 season. Our friend Jon Krawcyznski of the Associated Press has the deal at 4 years and $56 million with the incentives included.

The concept of Rubio, his worth, the market for players of his status/position, and his future with the club appear to be very divisive topics, so let’s try to work this out on the page and come to a consensus on how good of a deal this is for both sides and what it means moving forward.  Continue Reading…

This just happened. #IceIceBaby #GoNinjaGoNinjaGo

A video posted by Andrew Renschen (@infraren) on

Smart people who cover the Timberwolves (including our own Tim Faklis) called their opening night loss to the Memphis Grizzlies a “moral victory,” or at least something roughly equivalent to one. Despite the loss, there were enough encouraging signs for Wolves fans to feel good about how the game went, hanging tough with a gritty playoff contender on the road. Expectations were a little higher for the team as they came back to the Target Center to face the lottery-bound Pistons in the home opener. A letdown loss in front of an energetic, near sell-out crowd would’ve been a step backwards. Continue Reading…

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The Timberwolves fought to the final seconds tonight, but couldn’t get over the hump against a borderline top-tier Memphis Grizzlies squad. Mid-broadcast, Dave Benz mentioned the Grizzlies haven’t won an opener since they moved to Vancouver. It was a tough 105-101 loss, but it’s important to remember the quality of competition that the Wolves were facing tonight, and the connotations that a win would bring for said competition.

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To make the fifteen man cutoff for rosters at 5 pm ET on Monday, the Wolves were going to have to cut (or trade someone). Although Chase Budinger’s name had surfaced in trade rumors with Indiana and Cleveland, nothing concrete was likely to happen there prior to the deadline, so that essentially left the Wolves to decide between J.J. Barea, Glenn Robinson III and Robbie Hummel. Obviously, solidifying the fifteenth man on the roster is not exactly a major thing, but that it was Barea who was bought out does in fact say something about the direction of the team. Continue Reading…

The poorest effort the Wolves showed all night was at the end of the above video, when the rookies’ version of “Happy Birthday” fell into halfhearted, off-key mumbling. Other than that, it was a pretty good night for Minnesota. Continue Reading…

 

OLD AND NEW

As soon as Flip Saunders’ Cheney-esque search for a head coach resulted in naming himself for the job, observers began to speculate about whether his offensive style fit the modern game. The Wolves had a top-10 offense in 6 out of 8 full seasons during Flip’s first stint in Minnesota, and until his two tumultuous seasons in Washington, the lowest any of his teams finished in turnover-to-assist ratio was 7th in the league. Flip’s gameplan, when executed properly, fosters ball movement and generates open looks, especially from the midrange area.

The problem, of course, is that the midrange game is dying a slow, painful death. Thanks in part to the rise of analytics, the most valuable shots in basketball are now considered to be at the rim, the corner three, three-pointers in general, and getting to the free throw line. That doesn’t exactly jive with how Saunders’ teams have ranked in the past: Continue Reading…

The Wolves play in Cedar Rapids tonight! Finally, we get to watch them pl... what's that? It's not on TV?!? Dang it!

The Wolves play in Cedar Rapids tonight! Finally, we get to watch them pl… what’s that? It’s not on TV?!? Dang it!

So, it’s probably not something to get up in arms about or anything, but most NBA preseason schedules don’t make a whole lot of sense. It’s odd that they don’t make a whole lot of sense, because as far as I can tell, teams are in charge of making their own exhibition schedules, with very little oversight from the league other than “play between six and eight games.”

Thanks to this interesting SF Gate story from a few days ago, I understand that the nuts and bolts of creating a slate of games is a more cumbersome task than many people realize. Among the factors to consider: handshake agreements with other teams who you’ve “traded” home dates with, whether or not the arena where you’d like to play is actually available, geography, travel, and pleasing players and coaches with days off in desirable locales (like Santa Monica or South Beach) rather than less desirable ones (like, Iowa, or something).  Continue Reading…