GH And Petey's Timberwolves Blog

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Missing Spree

The Wolves went down again tonight, this time to the Cleveland Cavaliers. In my mind, there were two primary contributing factors to the loss.

The first, and less important one, is that the Wolves were a bit rusty. They hadn't played since Friday, and due to the snow, they weren't able to practice yesterday. The rust showed early on as the Wolves could find no shooting rhythm whatsoever. It's not like they were missing tough shots either. At one point, I counted 5 offensive boards in one possession (hey, at least we could rebound, right?). A couple of the shots were long jumpers, but some of them were layups and tip shots that the Wolves normally make.

So while the Wolves were busy missing everything, the Cavs were out there making everything. At one point, they had a 17 point lead in the first half.

I think the larger factor here was the absence of Latrell Sprewell and his defense. For much of the game, we had Wally guarding LaBron James. (Guh!) Now, I just praised Wally's D in my last post, but with that said, he'll never be capable of guarding the likes of King James.

The Cavs hot shooting was no accident. They were getting all sorts of open layups and dunks during the first half. Had Spree been in there, things probably would have been different. The Wolves are now 0-2 without Spree, and without his presence on the court, the Wolves D goes down a notch. To quote Petey's comment from last post:

The T-wolves have KG who DEMANDS defensive intensity. Frankly, if it wasn't for him only Hassell and Spree would even bother playing defense at all.

People like Wally and Sam have their D improved by the presence of Garnett, but they're still not great defenders. Spree, however is a great defender and no amount of leadership or intensity can make up for that.

I haven't heard anything yet about when he's expected back, but hopefully it will be soon. At 15-9, the Wolves have exactly the same record that they had last year after 24 games. Unfortunately, at this time last year they were out of their early season slump, and were starting to play really well. Watching this year's team, you don't get the impression that they've really figured it out yet and aren't really starting to gel. Hopefully, Spree won't be out long, because without him, it might take the Wolves a while to get it together.