Monthly Archives: November 2012

Timberwolves at Warriors Preview: Can We Get A Win?

Malcolm Lee and the Minnesota Timberwolves look to stop Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors tonight in Oakland

Fresh off a 103-95 Friday-night loss in Portland, the Wolves play Golden State tonight at 9:30 PM CST in Oaktown.

It seems like the Wolves are getting a relatively easy road game the night after a tough loss, but a closer look suggests otherwise. The Warriors have:

  • the better record on the season (7-6, vs. the Wolves’ 5-6)
  • more momentum (GSW have won 4 of their last 6, the Wolves have a 4-game losing streak)
  • a history of being Twolf killers (GSW has won 10 of the last 12 head-to-heads against the Wolves) 

Things get bad for Team Adelman if they lose this one. Continue reading

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Losing Streak (BLAZERS 103, Wolves 95)

For the second consecutive game the Wolves allowed a double-digit lead to slip away against a divisional foe.  They’ve now lost 4 games in a row and have fallen below .500.  Things were looking good when LaMarcus Aldridge picked up his third foul before halftime, frustrated after receiving a technical foul for angrily approaching Kevin Love after a whistle.  Minnesota led 48-38 and had momentum on its side.  That’s as good as things got on Friday night.  From that point on, like the other night, the offense sputtered, mostly a result of poor guard play that simply does not create high-percentage shots.  Not for themselves.  Not for teammates.  Adelman continues to give the starting nod to Malcolm Lee, and it continues to hurt the offense.  It isn’t a noticeable help on defense either.  It’s a mistake.  He then trots out the two dribble-drive guards, Barea and Shved, as a tandem.  Tonight, Shved struggled to score, but provided 3 assists in 16 minutes.  Barea was a train wreck in all respects.  I’ll keep beating this dead horse.

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PREVIEW: Wolves-Blazers

The Roy-Aldridge combo still gives nightmares to Wolves fans.

Wolves at Blazers tonight, so it’s a late 9:00 tip-off.  I recommend eating the nuked-up turkey now so you have ample time to nap off the tryptophan before Love-Aldridge XXVI (all Roman Numerals approximate).  There’s something of a rivalry between these teams, but it has more to do with the front offices than any epic playoff series (unfortunately).  The teams flipped draft picks in 2006, with Brandon Roy sealing the one-sided fate of this intradivision matchup for years to come.  As Wolves fans now know all too well, Roy’s knees eventually broke down, but not before he inflicted years of pain on the Wolves.  Without looking this up, I think they beat us every single time we matched up after the Garnett trade, before Ricky Rubio resurrected the Timberwolves franchise last year.  But the personnel tension extends beyond Brandon Roy.

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Second Guessing

I think Randy Wittman is a bad NBA basketball coach. I know that Randy Wittman understands basketball better than I do.

Randy Wittman played four years of college basketball at Indiana University.  He played there for Bobby Knight, one of the greatest coaches in the history of sports.  In Wittman’s sophomore season, the Hoosiers won a national title.  In his senior season, Wittman was Big Ten Player of the Year on a team that won the conference.  After his highly successful collegiate career, Wittman went on to play ten seasons of NBA basketball.  Most of those seasons were with the Atlanta Hawks, coached by winner of more than 1200 games and the 1985-86 NBA Coach of the Year Award, Mike Fratello.  Shortly after his playing career ended, Wittman entered the coaching ranks himself.  He spent eight seasons as an NBA assistant coach, most of them under Flip Saunders with the Minnesota Timberwolves in the early seasons of Kevin Garnett’s career.  With that incredible basketball resume’, Witt finally landed his first head coaching job.  He was hired by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1999 and spent two seasons on their bench before being fired.

I list these career accomplishments of Wittman not because I want to write his biography, but because when he later coached the Timberwolves I criticized his abilities and decisions countless times even though I am 100 percent sure that he understands basketball much better than I do.  Continue reading

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Another One Gets Away (Nuggets 101, WOLVES 94)

Rick Adelman needs to fix the guard rotations before too many winnable games are handed away. Photo – David J. Phillip, AP

The Wolves extended their losing streak to 3 games on Wednesday, dropping a crucial game against a divisional foe that might be joining the Wolves (and Mavericks, Jazz and Warriors) in the battle of the playoffs fringe.  Despite a fantastic surprise in the minutes leading up to tip-off (more on that in a second) and a large 1st Half lead, the Wolves offense sputtered in the 2nd Half and a winnable game was lost.  This game was relatively simple, with one great thing slightly more than offset by one really bad thing.  Those two things:

Kevin Love unexpectedly returned to the starting lineup.  And was immediately back to his All-Star form.

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Timberwolves – Nuggets Preview, or When Manimals Attack

Andy G and I are exhibiting withdrawal symptoms after a multiday layoff from Wolves hoops. That should be fixed soon. Here’s what we’re thinking heading into tonight’s game.

Another thing: Punch-Drunk Wolves is at full strength tonight in the flesh. I’m in town for the holiday and about to head over to 600 1st Avenue.

Box Out

A fatal mistake of the Wolves in Friday’s game against Golden State was a failure to box out and prevent second-chance points. The 17 offensive rebounds pulled down by the Warriors were key in staving off a last-ditch comeback effort. Tonight, the Denver Nuggets come to town with a league-leading average of 16.8 offensive boards per game. Kenneth Faried in particular has been a beast–or MANIMAL, I should say–in attacking the glass, averaging an absurd 6.9 offensive rebounds per 36 minutes. If the Wolves want to win tonight, they need to get stops–which, against Denver, means working on the glass after forcing the missed shot.

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Reflecting on the Alexey Shved Signing

Alexey Shved’s signing is making David Kahn look good

The 5-4 record of the Minnesota Timberwolves is defined by crosswinds: In one direction blows a continuous breeze of injuries: damaged knees, bizarre knuckle and foot ailments, an ankle sprain (to a player seemingly-immune to such things), with the sum being a depleted roster and lots of improvisation we didn’t expect. The other blows all the way from Eastern Europe – Moscow to be exact, improbably flitting CSKA stars Andrei Kirilenko and Alexey Shved into Timberwolves POBO David Kahn’s lap all the way over here in Minneapolis.

Kirilenko and Shved have exceeded expectations and helped the Wolves team gather needed wins in a competitive Western Conference. Kirilenko is the team’s MVP by a wide margin, thriving under Rick Adelman’s player-movement offense, perhaps to a degree never reached before in his career, even in his prime as a member of the Utah Jazz.

Kirilenko is playing at a high level, and is being paid as such; last offseason, he inked a two-year deal worth $20 Million, which includes a player option on the second year – worth about $10.2 Million – allowing him to explore free agency if he chooses. All things considered, it isn’t a great contract, only because with the level of play he’s quickly reached, we would all wish he were locked up for 3-4 years instead of just one.

Shved’s contract, on the other hand, is looking mighty fine.

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