GH And Petey's Timberwolves Blog

Thursday, November 04, 2004

One And One

Well, the NBA season is off and running. The Wolves were unfortunate to have back to back games to start off the season, with the second game coming at Denver. Not only is Denver going to be one of the top teams in the league this year, but the thin air there can make playing very difficult for opposing teams, especially ones playing the second game of a back to back. In fact, even though the Nuggets might be a bit overrated (It remains to be seen how well K-Mart can play without Jason Kidd to constantly feed him alley-oops), the very strong home court advantage they have might help their win/loss record to exceed what you'd expect from a team with their level of talent. With all that said, tonight's game was a bit of a disappointment, although only a small one.

The Knicks game however, went basically as planned.

I've got to give some credit to the Knicks, they came out and played like a team inspired for the first quarter. I watched them as they did everything almost perfectly for the first quarter. But like a veteran Twolves fan, I didn't panic. I knew that given enough time, the Knicks would not be able to maintain that high level of play, and the Twolves skill would eventually overcome. Sure enough it happened, and after the first half, I never really felt like the game was in jeopardy. They just seemed so under control the whole time that you just knew the Knicks didn't have a chance.

Watching tonight's game, I got a bit of a feeling of deja vu. The Nuggets came out to make their first 4 shots of the game, but then the Wolves came rolling back to take a 5 point lead at half time.

At the beginning of the third quarter, the Wolves couldn't hit a shot to save their lives. At one point, they missed 8 in a row. Then, KG made two amazing blocks. Both of which he blocked, pinned it against the glass and then pulled it down, all with one hand.

Next, known Garnett hater (and questioner of his sexual orientation) Francisco Elson got himself ejected by smacking Garnett upside the head. The refs called a technical, but not a flagrant. Since he had already gotten one earlier, he got ejected. Looking at the replay, it appeared to me he deserved a flagrant, but it would be hard for the refs to see that in real time. Basically, he tried to make a play on the ball, but he looked like he really wound up and intended to go through the ball and into Garnett's face. Usually in a situation like that, you just stick your arm out there and swat at the ball, but Elson pulled his arm way back and went hard through the ball.

Next it was Cassell's turn to get ejected. After he fouled Earl Boykins, he sort of followed along the side of him and gave him a little extra bump. Kenyon Martin took offense to this and shoved Cassell. Then Cassell took the ball and threw it at Martin. Once order was restored, K-mart was given a technical and Cassell was given two (one for the original bump and one for chunkin' the ball at K-Mart). This was a completely botched call by the refs. If it hadn't been for K-mart's push, there would have been no technical given to Sam. His bump wasn't that hard, and to be honest, I've seen refs give continuation at the point were Sam bumped him. If Sam gets ejected here, then so does Martin.

When it came down to crunch time, Garnett came up huge, scoring 14 straight points to end regulation and send it to overtime. Still, it shouldn't have had to go to overtime. The Wolves free throw shooting was poor and making just 1 more than they did would have given them the W. They ended up a mediocre 15-21 at the end of the night, but a lot of the misses seemed to come when they needed them most. Since they didn't, the game went to OT and the Wolves lost a nail-biter.

It was a disappointment, and a game they should have won. Still, losing this game by no stretch is going to ruin our season. It was going to be a tough one to win going in, and the season is still young. So now the Wolves stand at 1-1 and have the Hornets on Saturday and a rather light schedule with only 3 games over the next 11 days.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Timberwolves Preview: Game 1

The Timberwolves open there season tonight against the New York Knicks in the Target Center. While the Knicks believe they have improved significantly since last season, the fact remains that they are still an average team in a weak conference. While it's true that the East now has one powerhouse in Detroit, the fact still remains that the majority of teams in that conference are just not very good.

New York is a perfect example. Last year, they took the 7 seed in the East with an unimpressive 39-43 record. This year, they claim to have improved, but still have a rather paltry looking lineup. They will be led by their star player and former Timberwolf Stephon Marbury. Stephon is good, but he's not in the same class with the truly elite players in the league. Beyond him, the Knicks have Alan Houston (who won't play the first few games due to injury) and Jamal Crawford. After that, there's really not much depth at all. Yet despite this lack of depth, the Knicks will still likely make the playoffs and have an outside shot of home court advantage in the first round.

To be honest, I would not expect tonight's game to be all that interesting. The Wolves are 10½ point favorites going in, and I'd definitely pick them to beat that spread.

On the minus side for the Wolves, they're having more trouble with Spree. In addition to his ridiculous comments on his contract extension, he's now been cited for arguing with a police officer. With all that's been going on with him, I'd expect him not to have a huge impact this season, and would not be surprised at all if we tried to deal him. Hopefully we can get things worked out before too much of the season passes. In the meantime, if you need something to make you laugh, read this article by Jim Souhan.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Jailblazers already off and running

So Qyntel Woods is under investigation for his involvement in a dog fight ring. Apparently getting high and then watching dogs rip each other to shreds is his idea of a good time. However, the story doesn't stop there! Zack Randolph reportedly helped intimidate a witness in the case. And Qyntel hadn't even been charged with anything yet! Very smart move, smart enough to get the Blazers to cave in and sign him to an $83 million max contract today. Looks like no one has learned a lesson on the team or within the organization. No wonder Sheed is finally on the straight and narrow. At this point you could send Hoiberg to the Blazers and he'd start raping, smokin' and abusing animals left and right.

The NBA, it's faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaantastic!

Spree Demands Trade

So, I knew that the Spree contract extension talks weren't necessarily going that well, but I had no idea they were breaking down as much as it sounds from the following article:

Juciest quote goes to this beauty right here straight from the mouth of Sprewell (in case you need a preview as motivation to click the link above):

"Why would I want to help them win a title? They're not doing anything for me. I'm at risk. I have a lot of risk here. I got my family to feed. Anything could happen."

He's nearing the twilight of his career making max money and is clearly not a max player. In fact, the Knicks have been overpaying him for years when he wasn't nearly as old. Unless he can get the Knicks to take him back and grossly overpay him *again*, it sounds like he may be a BIG problem for the T-wolves this season. The one thing I have feared is that chemistry issues and not enough ball to go round may have a disasterous effect.

So, can the T-wolves get anything good for Wally, Spree, possibly Kandi and spare parts? They'd need to get at least a good big man and scorer in the trade and unfortunately there really aren't any good big men available. They have most of the pieces they need to get to the 'ship but really need a force down low to help KG out and give them a low post offensive and defensive presence. If there is one area where I think KG is less than stellar it's down low. He *still* gets pushed off the low block and while he's a beast at rebounding and blocking shots the defense could turn Piston-like with a defensive minded center (a la Benny Wallace) who could provide the forceful intimidation and bulk that KG can't supply. However, who's out there that fits this bill?

Anyway, I think this is a serious problem that is developing with Spree who already clashes with Wally at the small forward position.

The good news is that I don't think he'll try to choke Flip with KG around.

Stay tuned ... hopefully McHale can swing a brilliant trade or can get Spree to buy-in to what the T-wolves are all about.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Western Conference - Northwest Division

The T-Wolves are the *clear* favorites in this division and it's really not that close. Denver had a great season last year with a hardworking group of overachievers that outhustled and surprised many teams on the way to victory. They have upgraded but unfortunately will have a much tougher road ahead as teams will not be penciling in automatic Ws on their schedules when they face Denver. Here is how I see it breaking down: Timberwolves, Nuggets, Jazz, Supersonics, Trailblazers.

Timberwolves - Their best offseason move which actually went unnoticed by me until embarassingly recently is the acquisition of Eddie Griffin who once upon a time not long ago was a treeeemendous prospect with huuuge upside. Since then he's been labeled as a head case who can't control himself. I think this is a great pick-up for the Wolves as KG is the level-headed mentor who can set Griffin straight. The biggest thing for the Wolves is keeping their key players healthy and making sure that if everyone is healthy, role players have a role to play (i.e. Wally 'Never Met a Shot He Didn't Take' Szczerbiak). Oh, and they need to dump Kandi for any big man with a pulse and the willingness to give 10%.

Nuggets - One of the true success stories (besides the Pistons) from last year. Not only do they work hard at both ends of the court and play team basketball but they have an exciting group of players and are fun to watch. Kenyon Martin can really make this a team that will be tough to play as he will act as an ultra aggressive defensive leader who also happens to be quite talented on the offesnive end. If Camby can stay healthy (a big if as his career has been plagued by injuries) then they will certainly make the playoffs again and may be able to contend for the 'ship. That is a tall order as their team is quite young and not used to playing against teams who are taking them seriously. Another question is whether 'Melo step his game up to the next level or if he'll become a Glenn Robinson scorer who fills the bucket but can't do much else for his team.

Jazz - They play basketball the right way and have to overpay mediocre talent because no one wants to play in Utah. I'd like to say that on paper they can't make the playoffs but if Jerry Sloan has taught me one thing it's that you can't count his teams out. I think the Jazz will sneak into the playoffs and be a huge pest to whichever team has to face them.

Supersonics - The drop-off from the Jazz to Sonics is pretty big but they do have *some* talent on their roster. Ray Allen has always had game but never found that superstar level -- maybe he'll find it now that he's Kobe's biggest rival. They also have Rashard Lewis who never became the high school draft stud that they were hoping for. He is a nice player but is making max money and he's not good enough to build a team around. I do have to give them a nod for signing Danny 'The Tank' Fortson -- a personal fav.

Trailblazers - It is more likely that their starting five will be in jail by the end of the season than playing in the NBA playoffs. 'Nuff said.

Yeah, so the T-wolves are lookin' set to take their division this year and will be a clear contender for the 'ship -- Go T-wolves!