The Wolves three-game road trip — began on Friday, ends tomorrow night — spans the entire NBA spectrum. Friday night was at San Antonio, where the Spurs are the league’s gold standard of consistent excellence. Tonight was at Memphis, last year’s Western Conference finalist that has a new coach (Minnesota’s own Dave Joerger, who replaced Lionel Hollins) and –importantly — does not have the services of Marc Gasol, who is out with a sprained knee ligament. Tomorrow night is at Boston, where the Celtics are playing above their heads with an 11-14 record. Boston has a rebuilding roster and — despite the early success of Coach Brad Stevens — seems like a lock for the lottery. The mini tour includes the upper, middle, and lower classes of the current NBA, and in descending order.
The Spurs were 17-4 heading into the Minnesota matchup. Despite a stellar Kevin Love performance (42 points, 8-9 3pt field goals) the Wolves came up short. Love ran out of gas, trying to carry his team and go blow for blow with the Spurs Offensive Machine. Tony Parker, rested relative to Love, went to work in Winning Time. He navigated the Wolves defense to the tune of 12 points in the final 7:35. Parker scored 29 in the game and dished out 6 assists. When facing San Antonio — by far the league’s best-executing team offense — it’s always difficult to tell if they’re that good or you’re that bad. On Friday, the Wolves clearly struggled to defend. Their offense, without any help from so-far superstar scorer Kevin Martin (more on this later), was almost enough. But allowing 117 points will rarely result in a victory. The Wolves lost by 7. It was a splendid game to watch, but with a bittersweet result of defeat that seemed like wasting a special Kevin Love performance. The loss dropped the Wolves record down to 11-12, once again below .500.
Tonight was a far different matchup. At Memphis, the Wolves faced a Grizzlies team that was 2 games under .500 and struggling without its team MVP and leaguewide Defensive Player of the Year, Marc Gasol. Behind more Kevin Love domination and a J.J. Barea scoring surge, the Wolves build a lead as high as 19 in the second quarter that fell down to 10 at the half. Barea was playing his usual style (dribble-happy, improvisational) and it was working for a while. He had 13 points on perfect 4-4 shooting (3-3 from downtown) in the first half.
Things got uglier in the second half, but the Wolves never quite surrendered their lead. It dropped to just 2 points more than once. Mike Conley was having his way on offense (28 points on 12-20 shooting) before injuring his knee and leaving the game with just 3:54 to play. I don’t know the extent of the injury, but he did go to the locker room. It was 95-92 with just over two minutes to go when Pek — on consecutive possessions — drew fouls on Zach Randolph. Each time he converted both free throws. Paired with some timely defensive stops, the win was sealed up.
After five days off that included a Mexican vacation and postponement of a Spurs matchup, the Timberwolves return to action tonight at Target Center. They face the two-time defending champion Miami Heat. The Wolves will be without Kevin Love, who is home with family mourning the loss of his grandmother. (Eds note: Best wishes to Love and family.)
The Heat has lost two consecutive games; the latter being a 20-point drumming by the Roseless Bulls on TNT. They’ve been without Dwyane Wade, but the reports on Twitter indicate he’s shooting around and might play tonight. That’s not good news for a Wolves team trying to get back to .500 without its own best player. In any event, it will be a fun game to watch because… well, LeBron James.
But we’re less interested in the MVP or his All-Star teammates than we are a former Timberwolf returning to Target Center with career-best numbers and a renewed sense of basketball purpose. That’s right, we’re talking about the one and only Supercool Mike Beasley, a longtime PDW favorite.
Beasley is only playing 17.6 minutes per game, but that’s 17.6 more than just about anybody expected after his famous regression from prized draft prospect and promising young talent to inefficient chucker who didn’t play defense but did get himself into off-court troubles. Beas isn’t just playing in Erik Spoelstra’s rotation. He’s playing REALLY well. His 23.2 points per 36 minutes is a career high. So is his 54.6 field goal percentage, which is downright ridiculous for a combo forward like himself.
Beas has always had obvious talent and it appears he’s finally begun to tap into it in a way that helps an NBA team win games. The Heat are playing 12.9 points better than opponents, per 100 possessions, with Beasley on the floor. Suffice it to say this is a sharp change from his recent seasons in Phoenix and Minnesota. It’s also way better than LeBron and the other Heat starters, which is probably unsustainable but nevertheless a reflection of how well he’s been playing.
For more on Supercool Mike’s improvement, check out Tom Haberstroh’s espn.com feature (Insider, sorry).
We thought it appropriate to preview tonight’s matchup by recalling our favorite Beasley stories.
Without further ado…
#10 – The Kevin Love 30/30 Game…in which Beas dropped 35 (Andy G)
Dirk N. and his hat will be squaring off tonight against the Wolves in Dallas
(Eds. Note: Andy G and Patrick J clearly don’t know what to do with themselves over a long weekend because they both wrote preview posts, unbeknownst to the other. Here’s part deux.)
The Timberwolves are in Dallas to take on Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks tonight at 7:30 CST. The Wolves have lost three straight. They’re now 8-9. After getting off to a quick 7-2 start, this the first time this season the Wolves have been under .500.
‘Sota needs a reversal of fortune in a bad way. And by “fortune,” I mean “effort and execution.” They showed neither in Wednesday night’s home loss against Denver, a point that Rick Adelman lamented repeatedly in his terse post-game presser. Referring to the loss on the Wolves’ home court, Adelman said, “the players can’t expect the fans to pump them up. That’s backward. (The players) need to get the fans going.”
(Eds. Note: When you hear a coach emphatically describe how his team wasn’t ready to play and didn’t give the effort you expect from a group of professional athletes–his group of professional athletes–you immediately see the stark difference between a coach who has absolutely no concern about his job security and the majority who aren’t so lucky to have the same leash.)
It was clear that after three straight losses, Adelman has lost any patience with which he began the season for the Wolves’ propensity for unforced errors, lackadaisical defense, and their failure to do basic things–like, say, blocking out opposing bigs (and Andre Miller) on the defensive boards–for painfully long stretches in winnable games.
Worse than that, Adelman clearly knows he doesn’t have a magic bullet to use now that he needs one.
Pacers star Lance Stephenson was a schoolboy phenom at Brooklyn’s Lincoln High School
Hi Folks, I’ve been traveling for the last week, unable to post but catching Wolves basketball on my laptop when I could.
Lots of ups and downs, from the disappointment of the four-point loss in Washington to letting off some steam against KG & the Brooklyn Nyets to a disappointing 112-101 loss at Houston on Saturday night against a Rockets team that was down one James Harden.
The inconsistent play is more a function of stretches of bad Wolves basketball than it is of running into the wrong team at the wrong time. The Wolves struggle to take and keep leads, as was particularly evident in the loss to Washington, with the exception being when they get out to giant first-half leads, which won’t be the case very often against the kinds of teams we’ll need to beat if we make the playoffs.
One team the Wolves are unlikely to get out to a big lead against is the Indiana Pacers, who host them tonight at
Conseco Bankers Life Fieldhouse at 7 P.M. Eastern. You can see the game on League Pass.
The 12-1 Pacers are undefeated at
Conseco Bankers Life this season, and are 19-4 all-time when playing ‘Sota in their gym. The Pacers have two of the best defenders in the NBA in Paul George and Roy Hibbert. With his canny feel for the game and his long arms, George guards the wing like a young Scottie Pippen. Roy Hibbert leads the NBA in blocked shots and is the kind of rim protector Wolves fans dream Gorgui Dieng might someday become. Collectively, the Pacers currently allow the fewest points per game of any team in the NBA at 87.6 and hold opponents to a stingy 39.7 field goal percentage.
A sign that everything is clicking in Indiana? Things are so good in Indiana right now that respected columnists have begun to wonder whether the Pacers will be able to afford Lance Stephenson, formerly the punchline of so many sordid jokes.
I spilled a lot of virtual ink yesterday about the Wolves season to date. They went on to pummel the Lakers, defeating LAL by the most points in franchise history and for the first time in years. Three pointers by the Kevins, Outlet bombs to Brewer, pesky backcourt defense, and a Ricky Rubio triple double all factored into the win. Oh, and Nick Young’s shot selection.
Another big one tonight at the same arena, against a much better Clippers team.
Update (11:05 A.M. CST): It’s a cliche , but we’d be remiss not to honor Ricky’s triple-double (highlights here) by giving it the proper Ice Cube treatment (see 1:18) – Patrick J
It Was A Good Day (NSFW, depending where you W)
Swaggy P is gonna ball ’til he falls
Tonight the 4-2 Timberwolves will be taking on the 3-4 Lakers in LaLa at the Staples Center. The game is at 9:30 P.M Eastern, 8:30 P.M. Central. I’ll be watching on League Pass.
Kobe Bryant won’t be walking onto that court. (Eds. Note: He might be limping onto the bench. The operative message is, he won’t be playing tonight against the Timberwolves.) But Nick Young will. Like Kobe Bryant, Nick Young is a shooting guard. Like Kobe Bryant, Nick Young gets up shots.
But Nick Young is not Kobe Bryant. He has more in common with Jordan Crawford and other NBA gunners, and former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos. (It’s the shoes).
Imelda Marcos and her kicks
Swaggy P and his kicks
The Timberwolves travel to Cleveland tonight to face Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers. Artwork by Holly Grimsrud (hollygrimsrudart.com)
Andy G: Last night, the Timberwolves beat the Knicks and improved their record to 3-0. This marks only the second time in 25 seasons of franchise existence that the team won its first three games. Setting aside what that statistic says about the past, it is a small, early accomplishment worth feeling good about on the season’s first Monday morning. An undefeated start is especially impressive considering that the Wolves faced Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony in consecutive matchups.
The Wolves won the game at the foul line, where they made 29 out of a whopping 38 attempts. (The Knicks only shot 13.) After a blowout first quarter of steals and pass-ahead assists to Brewer and Love, it was all about survival. Carmelo eventually started making shots and the Knicks cut the deficit to 2 with 4:48 to go. But Kevin Martin converted a technical foul free throw, followed it up with a three-pointer (his fifth of the night; he scored a wildly-efficient 30 points on 12 shots) and the game never got close again.
Patrick J, what’s up with the crazy free throw disparity?
In their last televised game of the preseason, the playoff-hopeful Timberwolves easily defeated the blown-up and rebuilding Celtics. It’s difficult to glean much from a preseason game, and doubly so when the opponent is severely undermanned and the score differential stretches beyond 20 in the second half. Had the result been flipped and the Wolves were blown out, there would be reason for some panic; especially since Rick Adelman played his starters for almost as many minutes as they will log when the games count. But the game played out about like it should have — at least if you are a Wolves fan with some degree of optimism for this season — and the execution was just inconsistent enough to make certain conclusions difficult to come by.
The pick-and-roll defense doesn’t look particularly good. The Wolves will not be “blitzing” ball screen this year the way that Miami and other more athletic teams will. With a more conservative approach, then, there shouldn’t be breakdowns leading to open baskets near the rim, or over-helping in ways that leave wide open shooters in the corners. Those things happened sometimes, in this game. But there were also positives on that end. Corey Brewer, while sometimes getting burned — including once on the wing so badly that Gerald Wallace walked in for a big dunk — was disruptively aggressive and parlayed some loose balls into transition offense. Nikola Pekovic continues to “wall up” (h/t Jim Pete) and play solid if not spectacular position help defense. I mean, they held their opponent to 89 points. The defense couldn’t have been too bad.
My takeaway from this game — or my thought after watching it anyway — pertains to the team’s three-point shooting. Without digging into the gory details, you already know this was a weakness last year. The Wolves were the worst perimeter shooting team in the NBA by a wide margin. Tonight, they shot 25 threes, which is kind of a lot. They made 10 of them — good for 40-percent accuracy — which is very good. Kevin Martin, the roster’s offseason shot in the arm, converted an impressive 5 for 8 from downtown. Ricky Rubio and Alexey Shved, a pair of young guards in desperate need of better shooting efficiency, shot a combined 3 for 5 from three.
But I’m most interested in the team’s best player, Kevin Love. Continue reading
Patrick J: The Wolves were defeated by the Raptors last night 104-97. The Raps are a surprisingly good 3-1 on the preseason.
A few notes:
*Kevin Love: Kevin Love played like Kevin Love. He looks more and more like Daniel Plainview by the year. Which is actually pretty cool, because that’s the kind of ruthless competitiveness the Wolves need in order to become an elite team in the Western Conference. Love played well in the minutes he got last night, shooting 9-19 (Eds. Note: Many of those missed shots were misses of his own putbacks, for which he got credit for offensive rebounds, which eventually led to makes.) K-Love is in great shape, and, barring injury, he should be a shoo-in on the All-Star team this season.
*Ricky Rubio: Ricky shot like Ricky, which is to say, 0-7. But he made an impact whilst on the floor, finding open cutters and shooters unlike any other Wolves player entrusted with the ball whilst Ricky was on the bench. Ricky had 6 assists in 28 minutes, and this was good for a +8. He’s (obviously) a very legit point guard coming into this season, and will only improve when he has real wing options off the pick and roll. (Chase, get well soon! You too, Kevin Mart!)
What’s your take?
Here’s a snapshot of what the Wolves’ offensive sets have often looked like. Hi-Tech stuff here (don’t mind the DVR pause bar).
THE WOLVES SO FAR
So, there’s been a lot written already about the Wolves and the players’ individual performances so far during the preseason.
Patrick J: One angle that has gotten less attention is some of the sets that the Wolves have tried to run – with, shall we say, “mixed” results.
The set basically looks like this: Ricky takes the inbounds pass, dribbles past half court, quickly passes to a wing and cuts through to the strongside corner. The idea is that a post–often Kevin Love–will make himself available for a high-post entry. Then, the ball is in Love’s hands and the offense flows from there. The idea, I think is that Love will either be able to score the ball from the elbow, take a dribble and pass or score, or drive the ball off of a jab fake and get to the rim.
This offensive set seems to meet with limited success. The fly in the ointment is Ricky. Two reasons: (1) he isn’t great without the ball in his hands, and (2) he isn’t a credible threat to make a kickout catch-and-shoot opportunity from the corner. So, his defender can basically fade to crowd the high post and make the options for the high-post man that much more difficult to execute.
So, if this is to be one of the Wolves’ go-to sets, can it work? Should Kevin Martin basically have the Rubio responsibility–if and when he’s healthy again–to put a real threat in the strong-side corner? What gives?
For better or worse I went into my first media day without much of a plan, beyond “take an extra hour for lunch.” I wasn’t sure exactly where to go. (Thanks Darren Wolfson for pointing me toward the press room.) Or how to act as a newbie in a room stock full of veteran sports reporters. (Thanks Britt Robson for the pointers.) I had no questions prepared. (So I didn’t ask any!)
But despite my naivete on the logistics and intramedia etiquette, I felt I had a pretty good idea of what to expect in terms of interview answers from the players and the coach. I’ve read enough newspapers and watched enough SportsCenter to know that media day is not usually the time for candor or nuance when discussing a season on the immediate horizon.
Against this backdrop of low expectations, I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. Sid Hartman asked Coach Adelman for a starting five; a notoriously skirted question for a team about to break for camp. Adelman listed Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic as four locks. After some hemming and hawing, he confirmed what many of us already suspect: Corey Brewer will probably be the starting small forward.
Ricky’s Summer Camp
We’re t-minus 10 days from the beginning of Timberwolves training camp, and it’s time to begin musing about the upcoming season.
We know the big news from the offseason:
- Flip Saunders is now running the show, with Milt Newton riding shotgun and Bobby Jackson in the mix too. David Kahn is gone.
- Rick Adelman and Nik Pekovic are back.
- Love and Budinger are reportedly healthy. Word on the street is that Love is in shape. If true, this is a very good thing.
- Corey Brewer and Kevin Martin are in.
- Luke Ridnour is gone. So is Andrei Kirilenko. (Mikhail Prokhorov apparently made AK an offer he couldn’t refuse. Can’t really blame him.)
- J.J. Barea’s still here, and as far as I know, he’s also still divorced. Alexey Shved is still here, and as far as I know, he’s still partying. (Eds. Note: I actually don’t know that, I just like to think he is.)
- Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng got drafted.
- AJ Price might come to camp and compete for prime real estate at the end of the Wolves’ bench.
- Ricky Rubio has been bicycling and kayaking through Europe. He took a break recently to play for Spain in Eurobasket.
- Oh, and Derrick Williams still has a pulse. (Eds. Note: That is confirmed based on his tweets, unless someone’s ghost-tweeting from his Twitter. Whether or not he has improved his footwork to a semi-competent level remains unconfirmed.)
All in all, this year’s team has the makings of a good one….(more below the fold)
Kevin Love and Jonah Hill: Studies in Weight Fluctuations
The roster is mostly set. (C’mon, Pek, sign that dotted line…) The coaching staff seems to be in place, replete with a (David) Adelman for Billy Bayno swap and Shawn Respert proxying for the late Pete Newell as the Wolves new big man coach instead of teaching Ricky Rubio how to make a jump shot.
That said, there’s a lot to be optimistic about. Rick Adelman will be back. The Wolves lost a wing, but added a pretty good one to replace him. Two or three actually, depending on how Shabazz Muhammad plays out. Most important, Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, and others whose major, or niggling, injuries derailed the Wolves’ 2012-13 season are all reportedly healthy for 2013-14.
So now you’re looking at a rotation that might be something like this:
PG: Ricky Rubio, J.J. Barea, Alexey Shved
SG: Kevin Martin, Shabazz Muhammad, Alexey Shved
SF: Chase Budinger, Corey Brewer, Shabazz Muhammad
PF: Kevin Love, Dante Cunningham, Derrick Williams (!)
C: Nikola Pekovic, Gorgui Dieng, Chris Johnson
Our team should be pretty good.
That’s a nice segue into today’s edition of Punch-Drunk Wolves’ INBOX feature.
Alexey loves the land of 10,000 (frozen) lakes. It’s like Moscow.
Alexey Shved: Minneapolis is Moscow and Moscow is Minneapolis and I like Moscow so therefore I like Minneapolis
Andy G: Amid all of the
pre-draft Playoffs craze, we haven’t devoted nearly enough (any?) attention to our favorite Timberwolf, Alexey Shved.
For some background, in case anyone forgot, here is the best visual representation of how Shved met “The Rookie Wall”:
It was tough to watch, both as a fan of Shved the player, and the Timberwolves team. His off-season will be as important to the team as anything it does in the draft or free agency. The team needs help at shooting guard in a bad way, and Alexey has had/might continue to have the opportunity to make the job his. He just needs to get [a lot] stronger and more consistent with his jump shot.
He gave an interview in Russia recently, which was partially interpreted in a Canis Hoopus thread by commenter RussianBeesnyestEenterest.com (I love that moniker, btw.) Shved had this to say about his rookie season, and hitting the rookie wall:
“I was not able to sustain that level of play for the season – mainly because it was very tiring. Other players also warned me that could happen to me. Avoiding these slumps was not possible though. Playing 82 games in five and a half months – that’s quite a prize (ironic). It is, for example, possible to have 5 games in just 7 days! And if the coaching staff gives you 25 to 30 minutes of playing time it is very hard to give them good basketball until the end of such a stretch. At the end of the day I had very pleasing games and very unpleasing ones. It gave me experience. And for next season, I will know what to expect right from the start. Of course I will work to ensure that I will play much more consistently.”
Importantly, he goes on to say that he’s returning to Minnesota on June 25 to work individually with the team on his off-season program.
If the choppy Charlie Bucket photoshopping doesn’t make clear, I’m not devoting much time to this. The draft lottery. It’s tonight. 7:00 on ESPN. Kevin Love will be there, representing the Wolves. I’d guess that Adam Silver or some Ernst & Young executive will announce the results around 7:30.
The reason I’m skimping on the LOTTERY PREVIEW is that it’s almost a foregone conclusion that the Wolves will pick 9th (81.3 percent chance) or 10th (12.2 percent chance). Who knows, maybe that will be a blessing in disguise? The high end of the lottery has not been very kind to Minnesota. The highest pick in team history, Derrick Williams, was chosen 2nd and will probably not be an NBA starter next season, his third in the league. Third overall, the team has selected Christian Laettner and O.J. Mayo. One never played for the Wolves. The other, well, we wish hadn’t. Fourth overall the Wolves have taken Donyell Marshall and Wesley Johnson. Bust, and… major bust.
[This is Part 1 of a season review series. This post looks back in time at the season that was. A subsequent post (or two!) will use what we learned this season to take a prospective look ahead at what the Timberwolves should look like in 2013-14 and beyond.]
1. Season Highlight?
Andy G: Win over the Thunder, December 20, 2012
I’ll kick this thing off. The highlight moment of the season is an easy choice for me: the win over OKC on Thursday Night TNT. It was December 20th, Christmas time. Spirits were high with the Wolves moving to 2 games over .500 (the last point in the season in which this was the case) with a 13-11 record. All of Alexey Shved (the lead guard for the Rubio-less portion of the season), Kevin Love, and Nikola Pekovic were dominant. Pek was pick-and-rolling bigger and stronger than the top team in the West could handle. Love spread the floor with three-point bombs, scoring 28 points along with 11 boards and 7 assists (career high?). He was awesome and looked the part of an MVP candidate. And young Alexey Shved was the orchestrator of everything. Pre-ROOKIE WALL Shved was something to behold and legit reason for Timberwolves optimism. His skillset was on display in that win over Russell Westbrook and the Thunder. Shved had a whopping 12 assists that night. Oh yeah, and JJ was GREAT JJ. He killed it during #WinningTime. All in all, that was a major highlight at a point in the season when the team had statewide interest and expectations of a playoff run.
Patrick J: Concur. OKC, December 20th, or “The Proof of Kahncept Game”
The Wolves’ victory over OKC was one the few games this season at Target Center I got to attend–I was back in Minnesota visiting family and had good tickets with Andy G & co to see what I expected to be an overmatched but spiteful Wolves squad take on the best team in the West, the Oklahoma City Thunder. Good JJ came out in full force that night — the goodest JJ that JJ can be. The rest of the team synced that night, the Wolves snapped a long OKC winning streak. Shved was Olympics Shved, Love owned, and it was basically the team we expected to see in 2012-13, minus Rubio. Imagine the potential of that team plus Rubio. I often do, and it’s a pretty amazing highlight given the way things actually turned out.
2. Season Lowlight?
Patrick J: The K-Love/Woj interview immediately prior to Rubio return.
Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor
Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor did a long interview with Ray Richardson that appeared in the Pioneer Press on Sunday. There’s a lot there, and it’s worth reading in full: Taylor talks about the status of Rick Adelman and David Kahn for next season, as well as how the Brandon Roy debacle has played out.
Yet much of the interview is cryptic, leaving one to read between the lines for meaningful subtext. My takes are below the fold.
David Kahn: Back in the saddle for at least one more season
Ric Bucher reports the Wolves are set to extend David Kahn as POBO for at least one more season. And no, Flip Saunders didn’t turn down the Gophers coaching gig because he’s already secretly agreed to replace Kahn at 600 1st Ave:
Latest on Flip Saunders and Minnesota Timberwolves: source says David Kahn’s position as GM is secure and that the one-year option on his contract, if it has not been exercised already by the TWolves, will be shortly.
via Ric Bucher’s post on Basketball | Latest updates on Sulia.
What does this mean? More below the fold.
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?
Jrue Holiday and the Philadelphia 76ers come to Target Center tonight
Tonight it’s back to the grind. The Philadelphia 76ers come to town for a 7 PM (FSN) tilt at Target Center.
The 76ers are 22-29 on the season, 6-16 on the road. If the season ended today, the Sixers would be the 9th seed in the East. They’re sniffing the playoffs. Every game matters.
The Wolves are 19-31, and 12-13 at home. They’ve lost 16 of their last 19. The playoffs are pipe dream, but the Wolves are still trying to win now – no one’s calling in the tanks yet. A deal before Thursday’s trade deadline does not appear imminent. But you never put it past Wolves POBO David Kahn to find a way to move pieces. (We floated this on Twitter earlier today for fun, and it provoked some, errrm, “strong” reactions (here, here, here.)
What does this mean for tonight’s game? We’re not looking at a Battle of the Titans, but we are looking at a couple of relatively evenly-matched teams. Both teams have stuff to prove. It’s a winnable game. It will be fun.
So who are these 76ers I speak of? Continue reading