GH And Petey's Timberwolves Blog

Friday, December 24, 2004

What the Hell Was That?

I was going to post this as a comment on Petey's last post. However, once I got going, it took on a life of it's own (as my pieces have a tendency to do) so I decided to make it a new post. I recommend reading his blog first, then reading mine. Anyway, here it is:

The Wolves loss tonight was truly one of the more depressing losses of the season. They played very well during the first half, despite a lackluster performance by Garnett. Then, they came out in the second half and completely collapsed. They were outscored 8-0 to start the half-completely nullifying the lead they had worked so hard to gain. Things just went downhill from there.

Kandi's presence in the starting lineup was confusing to say the least. Everybody knew that Madson was nothing more than a temporary solution, but I had assumed that Eddie would eventually get it. Of course that was all based on the assumption that he would keep up his high level of play.

Since going 7-15 from three-point range against Philadelphia a couple weeks ago, he has shot a minuscule 8-34 (and just 4-20 in his last five games).

During the game, Steve Kerr made the astute point (and Petey touched on this briefly) that right now the Wolves have so much talent that people are having trouble adjusting to their new roles. In other words, many of the players don't have any idea what they're supposed to be doing. All of out players are finally healthy, which leaves us with a logjam for playing time.

Putting Kandi in the starting spot tonight was likely done for two reasons. First, we wanted a low-post presence to counter Duncan and Kandi is the only person capable of providing this. Second, it may have been Flip's attempt to address the above issue. At the start of the season, everybody thought Kandi would end up starting, so Flip wants to give him that role. This would likely mean that Griffin would come off the bench but play extended minutes, especially in the second half. Madson would be a third option and Ervin Johnson would only play when people got into serious foul trouble. I don't think horse-face had any business getting a single minute in tonight's game.

On the other hand, if we start Griffin, what are we going to do with Kandi? He's really only useful at the beginning of games when the Wolves need to establish some sort of inside presence. Come crunch time, he's more or less useless. He doesn't bring any energy either, so bringing him off the bench doesn't give him any added bonus. One option would be to just bring him in when the other team rests its star big men, to try and abuse some match-ups at the low-post.

After the game, the superior Ervin Johnson made a comment about needing to get Trenton Hassell back into the starting lineup. After giving it much thought, I've decided that he's probably right. Although Wally has been playing quite well, and despite the fact that his D is much improved, I think it might be time to sit him down on the bench again. Starting Hassell would serve two main purposes.

First, his defense is outstanding, so putting him into the game at the start might help to keep the oppositions 2-guard or small forward from getting into any sort of offensive flow. Keeping the likes of a Kobe Bryant or LaBron James off his game early may keep him off for a longer portion of the game. On the other hand, if Wally is giving them easy shots early, they can get a feel for their shot, and went Hassell plays his tight D later on, it may not matter as much.

Then, once the tone has been set, we can bring in Wally and he can spark us with some instant offense. It would be a perfect one-two punch, with the two players complementing each other extremely well. An added bonus of doing things this way is that it will allow Wally to both guard and be guarded by second-string players. This will allow him more open shots, and his D has improved to the point where he can quite adequately guard someone who's not a top tier player.

I feel like tonight's loss is a big crossroads for the Wolves. If they can react well, it could completely turn the season around. They probably have more talent than any other team in the league, so getting on a roll could carry them all the way to an NBA championship. If they don't, they might be doomed to a season of mediocrity and leave us all wondering what went wrong.