Archives For Wes Matthews

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For some reason, the 14-win Timberwolves have found a relatively strange level of success against the 41-win Portland Trail Blazers this season. They managed to beat the Blazers back in December amidst the flurry of injuries to Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic, and Kevin Martin, ending what was a 6-game losing streak.

While injuries and losing streaks were also there for last night’s win over the Trail Blazers, the situation was different this time around. Rubio, Martin, and Pekovic are back and playing. Andrew Wiggins, who is still discovering what he is (really) good at, is further along in his development. Kevin Garnett is here now.

None of this is to say the Wolves came into the game projected as favorites, but it would explain the high level of confidence they displayed as early as the opening tipoff.

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RubioFace

For the final play of the Wolves-Blazers game, Rick Adelman drew up a play that gave Ricky Rubio a fairly basic pick-and-roll set with the floor spread and plenty of options off of that play. And the Wolves actually ran it really well. They ended up with Dante Cunningham pump-faking, nearly traveling, and then having to rush a jumper just a bit against his defender.

After the game, Adelman described the play they ran:

“The last play was a bang-bang play. I thought it was the best play we had. Pek might have been open rolling down the middle. At least he was going right to the basket and forcing the action. Dante made a nice pump fake, missed the shot but he’s not used to having the ball in his hands like that.”

Cunningham had made eight of his 10 shot attempts in the fourth quarter and was 20 for his last 25 heading into that final play. The Wolves options on the play were essentially spot-up shooting from Barea and Shved on the two sides, Rubio driving to the basket, Pek rolling to the basket or DC pupping near the top of the key.

“When Rick draws up a play, it’s not only one option,” Rubio said in the locker room after the game. “You never know what’s going to happen. It was like a different option and I felt that was the best option because he was shooting pretty good. But they defended it pretty good too.”

How good was the play and could it have been better? Let’s take a look.  Continue Reading…