Klay Thompson: Not like Mych (but that’s okay)
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.
Can the Wolves break the streak?
The Lakers have won 21 straight over the Timberwolves heading into tonight’s tilt at the Target Center. With the Lakers vying for a playoff spot and the Wolves coming off a dominant win against Detroit, could tonight be the night when the hex ends? That’s why I’ll be watching.
Stay healthy, my friends.
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.
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
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
Tonight the Wolves are in Cleveland to take on Kyrie Lee Irving and his Cleveland Cavaliers (6PM CST, FSN, 830-AM). Hands down, Kyrie Irving has the best handle, and possibly the coolest offensive repertoire in the NBA. That’s the need-to-know. Rinse, repeat, enjoy.
Will this man stand between Nik Pek and a 20+-point game?
Andy G: Wolves at Memphis tonight (5:00 CST, My29 for TV; 830 WCCO for radio) where they’ll face a Grizzlies team 13 games over .500. The Wolves? They’re 11 games below. Some big changes going on in Graceland that put the Grizzlies’ lofty standing in question. ESPN’s NUMB#RS guru, John Hollinger, joined the front office. Guess who’s no longer walkin’ through that door? That’d be you, Rudy Gay. Memphis now has Tayshawn Prince, whose extended, post-Aughts-dynasty stint in Detroit was the NBA’s version of an indefinite Gitmo detentionI. Seriously, what took so long for Dumars to find Prince a suitable home for a quality vet? In any case, he’s on a fringe Kahntender in Memphis now. He’s not exactly lighting the world on fire (9.3/3.3/3.5 in last 4 games) but we know he can play and he’s a gap-filler between a quick and feisty backcourt and big and bruising frountcourt.
Enough beating around the bush: Do the Wolves stand a chance of winning this game?
Patrick J: The Wolves stand a chance, but it’ll be a tough-fought win if it’s gonna come out in the Wolves’ favor. The big thing, to me, is the Gasol-Pekovic matchup. The Wolves have been able to rely – and need to rely – on Pek as their one consistent scoring threat throughout this tough stretch. But tonight, Pek gets the Gasol treatment. That means an extra-strength dose of pain for most opposing centers. And their backcourt is great at defense too. Mike Conley and Tony “000G” Allen make the lives of their oppenents miserable on a nightly basis. So Rubio, Luke, Shved & co, will have their work cut out for them. (Eds. Note: Allen has an excellent Twitter account, found here.)
So this leads to the next issue (assuming you agree) – can the Wolves get enough punch from Gelabale and/or D. Williams tonight to give them a shot in case our usual first options struggle?