Why hasn’t Alexey Shved played more point guard this season?
Andy G: First things first: The Wolves won by 31 points last night. On the road. On the tail end of a back-to-back. That never happens. I guess I should mention that it came against the Phoenix Suns and — unlike the last time the Wolves played (and lost) in Phoenix — it wasn’t a WESLEY JOHNSON REVENGE GAME. (Wes shot 2 for 12 from the floor.) I’d ask for your thoughts on the game, but I doubt yours are any different than mine, which could be summed up as: Nice to get a win, nice to see Chase Budinger contributing right away, but Phoenix is horrible and we’re in the thick of Tanking Season. If any of that is incorrect, let me know.
Patrick J: Ditto. We like those wins, and as much as that, we like how the team performs so far with Chase on the floor. Granted, they aren’t playing worldbeaters – SAC and PHO are peer teams at best – but still, you see the potential there. It’s almost enough to make me wish I knew how it looked at full strength, with Kevin Love on the floor. But not quite. We’re in the dog days of the season, writing posts that feature Youtube vids of our favorite college prospects whom we’re watching in the NCAA tourney, and are far, far, far from playoff contention. Do you agree that you’d rather K-Love stay away the rest of the season so as not to risk reinjuring his hand, or (let’s just assume this for a fun hypothetical), do you want to see him return so we can see whether a healthy Wolves squad with a few rusty pieces can compete with the Murderer’s Row schedule they have coming up?
It’s March. Spring is (officially) here.
Flowers are blooming and the air is warm. There’s still piles of snow on the ground and it’s cold as hell. But NBA and NCAA tournament basketball is being played. Basketball fans are in a state of full receptivity, like a f*cking lightning rod.*
Me, I’ve been traveling the last week, first to Minnesota, then to Chicago. Catching games when I could. But travel is disruptive, especially for someone who’s usually planted in his lounger in front of a 60-inch TV with the full suite of League Pass and cable options, and two(!) laptops, one usually dedicated to picking up a second NBA game on League Pass Broadband and the other to NBA Twitter. While on the road I’ve been catching games when possible. But it hasn’t been the same as my home base in The Hoops Junkie’s Blogger Lair. But now I’m back in the captain’s chair, and it’s on.
Anyway, here’s some stuff I’m thinking about.
The Wolves Remain Intriguing In Spite Of Everything
Hey folks, Patrick J here. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.
Game tonight. Here’re the deets: Hornets @ Wolves. 6 PM. FSN, 830-AM.
Given that these game preview posts always include info on where you can see the game, it seems like a fan should never have trouble catching the action. But that’s not the case.
David defeated Goliath last night. Goliath wasn’t at full strength. It was down 3 of its 4 best players.
But that doesn’t really matter right now. Not for the Wolves. It was a good day.
Ricky Rubio showed why people are all jazzed, and always have been all jazzed, about Ricky Rubio.
Ricky being Ricky
That GIF says a 1,000 words. Rubio was great. He f*cked around and got a triple-double. Ice Cube would’ve been proud. Punch-Drunk Wolves sure was.
Tonight, the Wolves play Indiana. They’re real good. Real good. And unlike the Spurs, Indy isn’t sitting three of their top players. Frank Vogel would be happy to eat your heart and mine.
What to know about the Pacers game tonight? Andy G and I break down a few key factors in this INBOX post.
UPDATE (3/12, 12:24 PM): Dan McCarney is reporting that Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard didn’t make the trip to Minneapolis.
Spurs @ Wolves. 7 PM. FSN, 830-AM. Boo-yeah.
The Wolves take on the Spurs tonight at Target Center. On paper, it looks to be a lopsided affair. The Wolves are 21-39. They have lost consecutive games by over 20 points. The Spurs are 49-15. They just beat OKC by 12. Two games before that, they beat Chicago by 18.
The ray of hope for this one is that SAS is not invincible. Dame Lillard & co beat them 136-106 in San Antonio on March 8th in the worst loss of the extremely long Tim Duncan era. Can the Wolves shock the world tonight? If I knew the answer, I’d be on a flight to Vegas, not writing this.
That said, things look grim. The Blazers are fighting for the 8th seed in the West. The Wolves are, well – depending on how you judge incentives – fighting for a respectable finish or a higher lottery pick. One thing they’re decidedly not fighting for is a playoff spot.
Which isn’t to say that they aren’t playing hard.
Anyone who’s been watching knows Ricky Rubio is setting an example that good players on bad teams ought to be required to follow. The energy and leadership Rubio displays nightly is a model for other NBAers to follow (even if his jump shot isn’t).
John Wall. Ricky Rubio. That’s it.
No Love no Bud no Pek no ‘Drei no Roy.
You should watch tonight’s game if for no reason other than that no other point guard in the NBA can do what John Wall does in that vid.
LBJ and Dre: Two things good in the world. Still. (Photo courtesy of ESPN The Magazine.)
Heat @ Wolves. 7 PM CST. NBA-TV/CH. 29/830-AM. Yep.
Streaking to the Finish
The Heat (43-14) have won 14 straight and are on the cusp of the longest winning streak in franchise history. Miami has beaten the Wolves five consecutive times. If the Heat win tonight, it will have its third straight season sweep of the Wolves. I’ve written before on streaking. Much of that applies here.
The Wolves? Continue reading
It has come to this.
Wolves @ Portland. 9 PM CST. CH. 29 (830-AM). Kaboom.
Coming off a 116-94 beating in LaLa on Thursday night, the Wolves close out their West Coast tour tonight at the Rose Garden as guests of the Portland Trailblazers and VULCAN INC. [Has there ever been a more evil-sounding company backing a pro sports franchise? Seriously, just hearing VULCAN(!) gives me shivers, especially when I then think about Paul Allen terminating GMs like they're Al Qaeda's #3. VULCAN!]
The Blazers haven’t been winning. Since beating the Wolves on February 4th, they went on a seven game losing streak before getting a win last Sunday against Boston. In all, they’ve lost eight of their last nine. But like the Lakers, the Blazers are fighting for a playoff slot in the West. Another thing they share in common with the Laker is that they ALWAYS beat the Wolves – Portland has won 20 of the last 22 contests versus the Wolves. So despite the dry spell, the Blazers should be ready to go tonight.
The Wolves? Maybe, maybe not. Continue reading
Wolves vs. Lakers. 9:30 PM. Staples. TNT. Boom.
Let’s have some fun with…
PG: Ricky Rubio vs. Steve Nash: Before we knew Ricky, we thought he’d be something like Nash minus the jumper. Turns out that the only things Rubio has in common with Nash are his skin color and uncanny court vision & passing skills. Nash is a great scorer and weak defender; Ricky’s a poor scorer and great defender.
SG: Luke Ridnour vs. Kobe Bryant: It’s no fun leading half the stuff I write with “How can they expect Luke to match up with [insert big, physical shooting guard’s name here]?” But that’s the reality. Ben McLemore would be nice, but he plays for Kansas. Here’s hoping Adelman does the sensible thing and has Ridnour guard Nash and Rubio guard Bryant. In any case:
SF: Mickael Gelabale vs. Metta World Peace: This physical mismatch is almost as daunting as the potential Luke-Kobe one. I’m starting to doubt Kirilenko is going to get right again this season; it’s a shame, as he’s certainly been our best player when healthy. If he were matching up against World Peace tonight, the potential for physical harm to be done would have been high. And unlike Gelabale’s case, it’s unclear whether who would be the harmer(!) and who’d be the harmed.
PF: Derrick Williams vs. EARL CLARK: Williams is still maddening, but at least he’s starting to do stuff. It’s amusing (and kinda sad) how surprised even he looks when he does something good. So that’s the baseline we’re gauging D-Thrill from. That said, Pau Gasol is out. And Earl Clark stinks. For the Wolves, no Gasol = no worries.
C: Pek vs. D12: Tough call. Pek may be the most likable player in the League; Howard may be the least. Each is a unique physical specimen but in a tototally different way. (Pek sort of has the Rocky from Rocky IV thing going to D12’s Drago.) I’m an admitted D12 hater, so I’ll say:
Advantage: Wolves. (If for no other reason, agree with me because of D12’s ManSpanx.)
Predicted outcome: Lakers by 13
I’m on the road today – lovely Pittsburgh is the destination – so I’ll keep this light.
The Wolves beat the Thunder on December 20th. The Wolves were above .500 back then. The Thunder had the best record in the League.
Good J.J. did stuff that night. If you don’t believe me, there video evidence above.
I was in Mpls for the holidays on December 20th. I was at Target Center. I saw Good J.J.’s Good Outburst. Stuff got real.
That night, you could see the potential this team had back before injuries *completely* ravaged it.