The Timberwolves were routed 105-89 last night against the Warriors, as the Dubs clinched only their second playoff appearance in 19 (!) seasons. These late West Coast games are wildcards for Patrick J, as they usually start at 10:30 Eastern Time, which is fairly late on a school night. Which is to say, I fell asleep around 10:30 P.M. last night, just before the tip of the Wolves-Dubs game. That’s what League Pass’s game archive is for. I plan to watch the game in its entirety as soon as I satisfy all of the niggling responsibilities today at my actual job here in DC, hopefully as a prelude to staying up late to catch tonight’s Wolves-Clips game live.
Operating on more forgiving Central Time, Andy G took in all of last night’s action. In this INBOX post, he’s going to wrap last night’s game and I’m going to preview tonight’s game, both with a simple “5 things” rapid-fire approach. Enjoy.
Patrick J: Okay, I came clean – I wasn’t able to watch last night’s GSW game. I can picture it in my head, though — Klay Thompson running off of screens and rapid-firing treys coming off of curls; Steph Curry breaking down the defense and making improbable jumpers off the dribble, David Lee doing what David Lee does, Andrew Bogut collecting rebounds, and Jarrett Jack being an asshole. Am I right or wrong? Or is my caricature of GSW firing on all cylinders consistent with what happened in this one?
Andy G: You’re pretty much right. If we’re doing this 5 at a time, it would go something like this:
1. Klay Thompson made his first 9 shots. Five of those were three-pointers. It was pretty incredible to watch and didn’t anger me as much as it normally would because: 1) The game result didn’t really matter; and 2) Somehow the Wolves were leading despite the white-hot shooting all the way until the closing seconds of the first half. They trailed by 1 at halftime.
2. Steph Curry grabbed the baton from Klay at halftime and did the things that he do for the rest of the game. Steph had 24. “Klay” had 30. Sheeeeeeeeeyit.
3. 5/5/5 – That’s how many points Ricky Rubio, Derrick Williams, and Nikola Pekovic had, respectively. The entire starting lineup only scored 38 points. In hindsight, I’m surprised the Wolves didn’t lose by 40.
4. Alexey Shved shot 1 for 6 from the field, which is unfortunately-not surprising at this point in his way-too-long rookie season. BUT– we did see some vintage Shved (can it be “vintage” when he’s not even in his second season?) as he dished out 9 assists compared to just 1 turnover in 27 minutes of action. I haven’t dug into the wins versus losses splits of the entire team, but Shved is dramatically different when the Wolves win versus when they lose. In wins he shoots 44 percent from the floor and 37 percent from 3. In losses those numbers are 33 percent and 25 percent. In wins he assists 4.6 times to just 1.9 turnovers, per game. In losses those numbers are 3.3 to 2.1. OBVIOUS AND OVERSIMPLIFIED: The Wolves play better when Shved plays better. He needs to improve as a shooter.
5. I’ve been joking (not joking) lately that the Wolves should hire Dell Curry to teach Ricky and Alexey (and anyone else interested) how to shoot the way that he taught his sons, Steph and Seth. Last night when Jim Pete brought up Dell and the Curry boys’ shooting prowess I tweeted at Jim to see if he knew if any team had actually tried to hire Dell Curry. During commercial break Jim tweeted back:
1) I need to get better at using Google; and
2) How cool is it that we can interact with the Wolves color guy during a broadcast?
Anyway, thanks for the reply, Jim, and keep up the awesome work.
What should we look for in tonight’s game at Staples?
Patrick J: Tonight’s game against the Clips should be interesting. Here are the 5 key things I’ll be looking at closely tonight.
1. A Clips letdown? The Clippers (51-26) just clinched the Pacific Division title. Do they have a letdown tonight against the lowly Wolves? I don’t think so – their top players, save starting SG Chauncey Billups will be in the lineup (and there are murmurs that Billups could come back tonight after returning to practice Tuesday), and the Clips appear to be trying to build momentum heading into the playoffs.
2. Ricky vs. CP3: You can’t not be watching this. CP3’s handles and passing cause trouble for most every team he faces. Ricky’s long arms and tenacious D (!) cause trouble for most every opposing point guard he faces. Who wins the head-to-head?
3. Blake Griffin: Debates raged about whether he or K-Love was the better power forward. Love has been hurt most all of the season; Griffin has been helping the Clips to a division title. For all those (Wolves) fans who were certain Love was the better player when this question came up during Love’s historic 2011-12 season, do we still feel that way?
4. Backup backcourts: The Clippers have one of the coolest and best, in Eric Bledsoe and Jamal Crawford. The Wolves have J.J. Barea and Alexey Shved. Will Good J.J. and Good Alexey come out tonight, or will they be outclassed by Clippers players having more successful seasons? I’ll be watching this one closely.
5. Small forward: Caron Butler is still a handful, and Matt Barnes is always like the mite beneath your skin you can’t get rid of. In other words, these guys are a handful every night. Do the Wolves have an answer, particularly on their second unit? Gelabale vs. Barnes – if Adelman even allows it to happen – is a dicey proposition.
That’s all for now. ‘Til next time.