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.
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.
Patrick J: The Pacers are tough. They have PDW fave and All-League Pass Eastern Conference member Paul George. They have stud defender Roy Hibbert. They have Lance Stephenson (the source/butt of many PDW inside jokes you may or may not hear from us if you ever happen to meet us in person). And they have Frank Vogel.
So Andy G, what do you think is the most interesting angle on tonight’s game? Wolves riding momentum, or the foe at hand?
Andy G: Most interesting? Us Wolves fans are as self-absorbed as the next, so the most interesting angle is Wolves-related. Specifically, can Alexey Shved build on last night’s great performance and get HIS SELF back on the proper track we saw for much of the season’s early stages. Last night he had 16 points on 8 shots to go along with 7 assists; some of the hang-in-the-air variety that eventually found an open cutter or shooter. I don’t think he necessarily needs his jumper falling to play a good floor game – many of his good games earlier this year coupled with cold shooting – but it certainly seemed to give him a needed confidence boost, last night.
By his night’s end Shved was whirling around in the air at halfcourt and flinging behind-the-head passes that landed closer to Glen Taylor and Rick Adelman than anyone inside the playing dimensions of the floor. (Lest there be any confusion, this blog FULLY endorses Shved’s granny-style, backwards overhead passes.) As fun as Ricky was to watch, Alexey Shved was the pleasant surprise; Ricky’s been consistently good lately. Shved hasn’t.
I know you like the Pacers. Tell PDW readers who don’t already know what they’re in for tonight.
Patrick J: You’re absolutely right on Shved. I’d been waiting for this for a while. In my preview yesterday, I suggested SHELVING HIM FOR THE SEASON. Now, I disagree with myself. (SCHIZOPHRENIA!) But the reason is, he did last night what we were looking to him to do since season’s start: to repeat, 6-8 from the floor, 3-4 from downtown, 7 assists, 3 boards, 16 points, and +24 overall. That’s nice. Real nice. Shved hadn’t anything NEARLY like that for a long while. PDW has been firmly in Shved’s corner from the beginning. Homers? We plead guilty if that’s the charge. But Shved is extremely important in what we can do. Especially with the other injuries that we all know about.
Regarding the Pacers? Yeah, I’m a fan. In my opinion, they, and no one else in the East, are the threat to the LBJ/Wade Express, and it isn’t even close. I’m an unabashed Pacers fan (except when they play the Wolves).
What do the Pacers do? Well, they rebound really well. They defend really well. Just look at their team page. This isn’t a team to be f*cked with. Roy Hibbert? Is he having a down year? It’s in the eye of the beholder? He’s blocking lots of shots at 2.7 per game. But who will he block? Stiemer? I hope not – Chris Johnson seems like a VERY Poor Man’s Tyson Chandler at taking lobs. Punch-Drunk Wolves, along with the rest of the basketball world, is in a protracted Man Crush on Paul George. And with good reason – we could’ve drafted him, but that aside, dude’s an All-Star who does lots of stuff. Just check out his Basketball-Reference page. [I will, now and forever, go on record as recalling that I couldn’t see a difference (my bad) between George and Wes Johnson, EXCEPT that Johnson was overrated and George was available at a lower pick that Kahn kahnceivably could’ve traded down for. My opinion doesn’t matter in the grand scheme: Kahn didn’t see or act on it: We got Johnson; Indy got George; the rest is history. With Danny Granger out, George has become an All-Star, and the Wolves will need to kahntend with him tonight. It will be a battle if the Wolves come to play.]
Andy G: A minor point of disagreement between us is that I don’t think the Pacers are a threat to Miami. (“Minor” because I assume you don’t think/wouldn’t bet on Indy actually beating Miami–just that you think it’s possible. I don’t, unless–like last year–Chris Bosh is injured for most of the series.) But yeah, they’re good.
In fact, per NBA.com the Pacers have the best 5-man lineup in the entire league. This is worth noting for a few reasons. First because it’s their starting lineup and overwhelmingly their most frequently used lineup. (For good reason, obviously.) Second because there’s a huge dropoff from that most-used lineup to all of their other lineups, both in terms of minutes and in terms of effectiveness. When the LANCE STEPHENSON(!) lineup is utilized the Pacers kill it. When others like Gerald Green or Sam Young are in there instead, the Pacers are pretty ordinary.
They’re an interesting team. Paul George is a freak; some weird combination of Tracy McGrady and Shawn Marion. (Though not [yet] as good as either player was in his prime.) He’ll probably check Rubio tonight which’ll be good TV. Be sure to tune in.
Patrick J: Alexey, if you’re reading this, please grow your hair back.