Coaching is a dark art. I’ve long been wary of judging coaches based on what we can see of their job: how they are on the bench, how they use their timeouts, what plays they call out of timeouts and in late-game situations, who they play when. There’s just so much of the job that we have no access to, and even the stuff we can see is difficult to parse in the same manner as the advanced analytics we’ve come to expect for players. There are no on/off numbers for coaches. A head coach creates an entire environment for a team and everything that occurs for a team occurs within that environment. A head coach is the old fish swimming by asking, “How’s the water?” and we’re all the fish asking, “What’s water?”
This was a game that could best be described as a fever dream, a disorienting mix of lightheadedness, unreasonable giddiness and unmoored feelings of unease. In spite of all that, this is more or less the house where Wolves fans should reasonably expect to live. Most of the things that are supposed to happen did: a stuffed stat sheet from Kevin Love, Brobdingnagian numbers from the Brobdingnagian Nikola Pekovic, effective and efficient scoring from Kevin Martin. Oh and Ricky Rubio did this, stirring feelings of pure joy that don’t seem to happen as often as they once did with him:
The Minnesota Timberwolves have been waiting for Chase Budinger to get healthy enough to see if the money committed and the vision of Flip Saunders this offseason would provide the necessary balance to make this more of a complete team. Continue Reading…
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.
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…
This game had a lot of beautiful basketball. Midway through the third it erupted into play after play of move and countermove and this, honestly, should be what every basketball fan hopes the game can aspire to. Look at this layup by Kawhi Leonard:
You knew I had to squeeze Thad Young in there somewhere
It’s no secret that the Timberwolves’ greatest pitfall this season has been what the kids call a SEGABABA (SEcond GAme of a BAck-to-BAck). Going into last night’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers they were 1-5 in such games and had faced and summarily dismissed the Pistons in Detroit on Tuesday night. With Michael Carter Williams sidelined with a … knee infection (yeah, that’s the ticket) and a Sixers team that appeared to be largely made up of created players from NBA 2K14 (“James … Anderson? Sure. Hollis Thompson? Those sound like basketball player names.”), it seemed like this might be the game to start turning that trend around.
It’s time I let you in on a dirty little secret about the Minnesota Timberwolves: most nights, as a team, they are not very good at shooting the basketball. I know this might come as a bit of a shock, given the furious offensive pace in Tuesday night’s 121-94 shellacking of the Detroit Pistons. But it’s true, I promise; let me offer you a bit of proof. Below is their season-long shot chart, which features an awful lot of red (note: red=bad) for a team ranked 12th in points per 100 possessions:
It looks even worse when the Timberwolves’ shots are broken down by distance, in segments of five feet, as shown here:
Inside 5 feet
5 – 9 feet
10 – 14 feet
15 – 19 feet
20 – 24 feet
25 – 29 feet
To summarize the picture and the chart: the Timberwolves are fine near the basket, decent shooting from the left wing three (which is Kevin Love’s hot spot), and adequate at midrange jumpers (the one shot in the NBA most defenses are comfortable letting their opponents take, by the way). Everywhere else, it’s ugly. And yet, Minnesota has a good offense… It seems my proclamation from the opening sentence of this recap needs a caveat.
On most nights, the Timberwolves, as a team, are not very good at shooting the ball… unless the defenders line up neatly along the painted area, and refrain from hindering their shot in any way. Continue Reading…
The game between the Miami Heat and the Minnesota Timberwolves last night turned out to be a disaster on the court. We know the drill. Kevin Love missed the game due to the death of his grandmother (our thoughts are with the Love family during this time) and the Wolves tried to piece together an attack against the back-to-back champions that just happen to employ the best player in the world. James did his usual absurdity on the court with 21 points, 14 rebounds, eight assists and 9-of-12 shooting from the field in just 31 minutes. He did have seven turnovers but he was probably just experimenting with certain passing plays during the game, knowing the outcome was already decided.
I didn’t have much to do after the game. The Heat locker room was packed. I watched them eat some kind of pasta dinner, saw Greg Oden try to squeeze through a small locker room, and found out that Chris Andersen allegedly has never paid a cent for his copious amounts of tattoos. I saw Lee Jenkins from Sports Illustrated talking to Shane Battier and got excited about whatever story he’s working on. I wasn’t going to go into the Wolves’ locker room. There’s no point after a game like that when they’re missing their best player.
At a certain point, I hightailed it to The Depot to grab a drink and a bite to eat with Myles Brown, our old friend. When I went home, The Crow was on TV and I started watching the final hour of the movie. In the big shootout scene towards the end, I noticed something ridiculous (you know… outside of the premise that a guitar player was murdered with his fiancé before a crow brings him back to life to avenge the wrong doings).
Check out the shootout scene and let me know if you notice anything strange:
Now, it’s a little hard to tell because of the cutaways but I’m fairly certain that The Crow fellow fires about 28 shots with those two guns. Your standard handgun will hold roughly 16 bullets. Some handguns can hold 20 shots but I’m guessing these lower level villains sitting at the table that don’t have credited character names are rolling with your run of the mill 9mm guns. Your standard six-shooter holds six bullets; that’s why they don’t call them eight-shooters or octo-guns.
When I watched that scene last night, I couldn’t believe how many shots this birdman fired with these two guns. Watching it happen, it just seemed to defy all logic and yet at the same time it made perfect sense. A murdered musician was back for blood and not even getting shot would stop him from getting his revenge. Neither would a seemingly finite amount of bullets in the two firearms he was unloading.
This movie is so weird to watch on a lot of levels. It’s a B-movie quality production in terms of the cast and execution of the acting. It’s really poorly done while the quality of the look and execution of the aesthetics is incredible. Knowing that Brandon Lee was accidentally killed in the process of filming this movie adds another eerie quality to the experience, even nearly 20 years after it came out. It’s odd thinking of the shoddiness of the movie knowing that in one of the flashback scenes filmed near the end of the production, Lee was accidentally killed on set by a gunshot wound.
Watching this movie after Saturday night’s loss, I kept thinking about how weird it is that movies like this just suspend certain levels of reality. I can buy into a guy being brought back to life by a crow. I’ve seen Dr. Doolittle before (that’s what happens, right?). I know it can happen. But watching/hearing the number of shots firing from those two pistols seemed both unnecessary and yet made sense at the exact same time. It made me feel a lot like what I had just seen in the Wolves’ loss to the Heat.
They shot 29.3% in that game. It’s unlikely you’ll beat a team when you shoot under 30% in a game. It’s happened four times since 1985-86, according to basketball-reference. Although one of those did come against the defending champion San Antonio Spurs in 2003. The Wolves just started firing up shots. A lot of shots. Shots that didn’t really make any sense. Shots that seemed like they should be out of ammo and yet they kept slinging them. And when you’re without your best player against the best team in the world (I don’t care what the records are right now), maybe that’s what you have to do. You settle for chaos and home to come out of the rubble with your hand raised high.
It’s not a good strategy. And it’s certainly not the strategy the Wolves tried to employ. However, they took shots and missed them. Just keep firing; eventually you’ll take out the creepy mob guy and avenge your own demise.
Okay, it wasn’t actually the infamous smog of Mexico City creeping into the arena on Wednesday night – a faulty generator outside the building pumped smoke inside, causing an evacuation at around 7:30 PM. The Wolves and Spurs, set to play the first regular season game in Mexico since 1997, packed up and left the arena around an hour later, the game postponed to a later date.
It’s a strange and unfortunate event for the NBA, from a public relations perspective. Outgoing commissioner David Stern has made the international growth of the game a top priority throughout his tenure, and to have the first of this season’s two Global Games (the other is January 15th in London between the Hawks and Nets) smoked out (I’m terrible) must be a frustrating experience for all involved. Thankfully, there are no reports of injuries – but the fact that the Spurs and Wolves traveled all the way down to Mexico City, without the payoff of the game itself, must be a major disappointment for everyone who worked on the promotion and logistics of the event. Continue Reading…