1) WOLVES – Clearly the shooting guard position is a problem. It’s usually filled by a point guard, and never filled by a catch-and-shoot floor spreader that fits with Rubio. But is Andrei Kirilenko–a hesitant perimeter shooter himself–also a poor fit for the offense?
2) NBA – The All-Star starters were voted in by the fans. The Lakers are 17-21. The Celtics are 20-18. 4 out of 10 All-Star starters come from those two mediocre teams. Who were the worst snubs?
3) WOLVES – Pek and Shved left tonight’s game with injuries. Did those injuries have anything to do with the loss to the Chris Paul-less Clippers?
4) NBA – The list of terrible teams goes something like: Cavs, Bobcats, Wizards, Hornets, and Suns. Which has the most hope for quick improvement? The least?
When I saw that the Wolves were a 8.5-point dogs, my naive optimism dwindled pretty significantly. Vegas usually knows what’s up. In this case, Ricky Rubio was sitting out. The Wolves were on the tail end of a road back-to-back. Miami was rested. Miami has LeBron James. The Heat are the world champs. After dropping a winnable one last night, this would be a challenge. How’d it play out? Check it out below the fold.
Twitter was going wild on the Timberwolves Injury Report front in the hours leading up to tonight’s game at Staples Center. First, the good news:
Such. Great. News. I can’t wait to see Minnesota’s most-entertaining athlete back on the floor at Target Center. Should only be another week or two.
Now, the bad (for tonight’s game anyway):
That hurts. Through 13 games, AK47 is the team’s MVP. Without him, taking on a title contender, on the road, on 0 days rest, is not a winning proposition. But as Chris Berman might say if he were segueing into a game in which an unexpected result occurred, “That’s why they play the games.”
To the action…
The obvious good news is that it’s not an ACL tear. The obvious bad news is that it requires surgery.
How serious is a meniscus tear? A recent example of this injury is Blake Griffin, who tore his medial meniscus (Chase tore the lateral meniscus–I don’t know if that’s a meaningful difference) in July during Team U.S.A. workouts and was ready to go in Clippers training camp in October. A rough estimate for his timeline would be 2 or 3 months, I think. They’ll know more after surgery.
If Magic fans want to enjoy this season, they should learn to appreciate J.J. Redick.
Let’s start with the simple: The Magic are bad. I don’t care if they arrived at MSP International with a 2-1 record and a Big Baby Davis MVP Campaign in full swing. By trading away Dwight Howard and Ryan Anderson and getting nothing but Arron Afflalo of value in return, the Magic are a gutted roster headed straight to the lottery. Even with Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love missing, the Wolves needed to win this game. Oh, and I didn’t even mention that Jameer Nelson, the Magic’s veteran point guard, was out with an injury. Nelson was replaced by former Purdue star and not good NBA player, E’Twan Moore. So yeah, this was a game the Wolves should win.
Alan Anderson – AP Photo/David Goldman
Fresh off the opening-night, grind-it-out win over Sacramento, the Wolves travel to Toronto for Game Number 2 today. The contest will be televised on FSN North and NBA TV. If memory serves, that combination led to a dual blackout last year, and no League Pass recourse as the game was “available” on local networks. Here’s hoping that snafu has been fixed and Twin Cities fans will be able to watch. A few things to look for in this one:
- Kyle Lowry – If the season ended today, the only things keeping Lowry out of the MVP conversation would be James Harden and the Raptors .000 winning percentage. The feisty point guard is leading his team in per-game points (24.5) assists (8.0) rebounds (7.5) and steals (4.0). Remember when Kevin Garnett was the best player on the Timberwolves–with separation from 2nd-best that would rival any disparity in league history? Well, the gulf between Lowry and the Raps’ next-best isn’t that big. But he is, by far, the Raptors best player. Continue reading
The Timberwolves won a game in which Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love were both inactive due to injury. Heck, they won it by 12 points. Not so bad, right? It was ugly. The Wolves made 32 of 87 field goals; a lousy 36.8 percent. Fortunately, the opponent Kings were equally inaccurate with their shot, hitting 36.0 percent. From downtown things were especially rough: The Wolves made 2 of 17 threes; the Kings 3 of 16. Of all Wolves players only J.J. Barea had a standout performance on the offensive end. With a game-best +26, very reflective of his game impact, Barea chipped in 21 points and 5 assists. He was largely responsible for a 2nd Quarter surge that saw the lead swell to 17 points. That lead would evaporate largely due to continued shooting woes and poor transition defense–the one area in which the Kings were not dreadful last night was pushing the ball for easy baskets in transition.
Questions greatly outnumber answers as we enter closing hours of Preseason and begin the real thing. Here are five of mine pertaining to tonight’s opening tilt versus the Kings of Sacramento:
1) Does a Timberwolf shooting guard steal the show? Of the possible [realistic] subplots to the early Timberwolves schedule, I think Brandon Roy or Alexey Shved (or both!) exceeding expectations would be most beneficial to the team’s hope of making the playoffs. Will Roy resemble his All-NBA self? Will Shved look more like the guy who out-dueled Manu Ginobili on a global stage, or the one who at other times rode the bench when David Blatt saw enough between-the-legs passes for one night?
CAVALIERS 94, Wizards 84
Kyrie Irving made the All-League Pass Team because of plays like this:
I can’t see too good, is that Kyle Lee Watson?
Cavs fans should feel good about Irving’s big game. (29 points, 6 assists, game-best +23). They should not feel good about the tie score with the Wizards (missing John Wall and Nene, coached by Randy Wittman) with under 5 minutes to play.
We’ve missed these guys.
[In case you forgot how this is done, a quick how-to, or "what to expect" in tonight's return of regular season basketball on TNT.]
5:30 CST – Leave work, gym, wherever you are. Go home.
5:45 CST – Check fridge, freezer, ensure that there are ample amounts of necessary supplies.
6:00 CST – Grab laptop, flip on TV to NBA Tip-Off presented by AutoTrader.com, get comfortable.
6:01 CST – See that Shaquille O’Neal is still employed by TNT, feel momentarily upset.
6:02 CST – See that E.J., Kenny and Charles are still employed by TNT, feel less upset.