Its a bit embarrassing to look back on what I’ve written on home openers of years past and find an optimism that ended up being thoroughly unwarranted. In those back pages, you’ll find glowing talk of the newfound wing athleticism brought by Wes Johnson and Michael Beasley. You’ll hear about the possibility inherent in the triangle offense and the inevitability of an endless river of Mike Miller threes. So yeah, a little embarrassing. This is partly because new beginnings and the feelings of renewal they bring on and, oh yes, partly because the Wolves open at home against the Sacramento Kings nearly every year. Its enough to stir the optimist in anybody.
Archives For THN-SAC
I think it’s safe to say the nail in the playoff coffin has been inserted.
After the loss to Boston on Friday, the Wolves had a favorable stretch of games in which they could presumably sweep them and end up climbing above .500 and right into the Battle Royale playoff fight. After the first two games of this stretch, the Wolves have dropped both while trying to shuffle through injuries and playing atrocious defense all around. Wolves are now five games under .500 and free falling into a lottery position they don’t get.
I think to expect playoffs as an actual possibility, even if it’s mathematically possible, is just irrational hope wrapped in a warm blanket of denial. Luke Ridnour is probably gone for a long time after that ankle injury tonight. Even if it’s just three or four games (by some miracle), there are only 11 games left in this season. Pek came back tonight and gave good minutes, but they were probably able to afford his absence a lot more than Luke’s.
Maybe JJ Barea can come back on Wednesday and play some good basketball. Maybe Pekovic’s ankle will still be okay (he told Adelman after the game that only his conditioning gave him problems) and he can build on his minutes while still scoring efficiently. Maybe Malcolm Lee will grow with each outing and give the Wolves some really solid minutes at the point.
Even then the Wolves have 4.5 games to make up with just 11 to play. The math looks funny to me. Continue Reading…
The cruelties of the NBA schedule are beginning to catch up to the Wolves. To begin with, they are wading through the mire of a seven-game road trip, one that seems to grow more punishing as it goes on and that includes games against the three best teams in the Western Conference. Trips like this are almost an inevitability in a season as surreal as this one. Perhaps no less inevitable is the idea that players’ bodies will begin to break down as the year wears on. Sure enough, the Wolves have fallen victim to that one too.
During this evening’s game in Sacramento, a nightmarish idea started playing through my head: that without Rubio and the suddenly emergent Nikola Pekovic, and with J.J. Barea and Michael Beasley knackered with nagging injuries, the Wolves begin more and more to resemble the team of the past two seasons. That’s a paranoid thought for sure; I’m guessing that Rick Adelman and superstar-mode Kevin Love will have something to say before that happens. Paranoid, too, because every team plays games in which their attention and energies slacken. Nevertheless, for a few reasons, this 16-point loss to the Kings brought back some awful memories.
Stars in the NBA can be incredible, stat-accumulating displays of effort, skill and whatever that extra special something is that makes them the elite 1% of NBA players. We marvel at their touch, power, speed, agility, and hand-eye coordination throughout a basketball game. We want to buy their jerseys and show everybody which star we back on a nightly basis.
Stars are only as good as the role players around them. Many people feel like it is the duty and mission of NBA stars to make those around them better, and to a certain extent it certainly seems to be a recipe for success. However, the top players in the NBA can’t necessarily give the role players on their team the confidence to make big shots, or the wherewithal to know when to step up to close out a team. Continue Reading…