GH And Petey's Timberwolves Blog

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Confused by Boredom

So I think the worst is behind me now. I only have one final and it's not for a week. I don't have any grad school apps due for over two weeks. I woke up this morning at 5 am (my sleep schedule is gradually returning to normal, as I was actually going to be later than this a week ago) and for the first time in what seems like months, I had a completely free day ahead of me.

It was a very bizarre feeling, and I'm not exactly sure how to describe it. Boredom can be confusing when you're not used to it. So not knowing what to do, I decided to bust out my bloggy style.

Right after I stopped blogging, the Wolves went on a tear and started playing some of their best ball since probably the 2003-2004 campaign. It all started with a huge comeback win against the Lakers and took off from there. Some people might not give the Wolves credit because of the relatively weak opposition they faced, but road wins are tough to come by in the NBA, so sweeping a 4-game road trip is always impressive, even if your schedule is: Raptors, Hawks, Raptors, Hawks. Ok, maybe that wouldn't be terribly impressive, but anything tougher than that is.

After the impressive road winning streak, the Wolves came home and followed it up with a dominating win over the Lakers before having back to back disappointing performances.

Philly Sixers

The Wolves had a pretty poor effort against the 76ers, but still almost pulled off a win. There was a lot of criticism about the shot Garnett took at the end of regulation to try and win it and rightfully so. I know it's generally a good idea to run down the clock and try to get the last shot, but sometimes teams tend to take this overboard.

I've had to listen to Hanneman and Peterson talk ad nauseum about how Casey wants the Wolves to start pushing the ball up because not using the whol 24 seconds often results in a worse than average shot. The same logic applies here. When you hold for the last shot, you're helping to prevent the other team from getting a shot, but you're also assuring that you'll get a worse shot as well. If you wait too long, it becomes "playing not to lose" as opposed to "playing to win".

If you don't wait quite as long, a few things can happen. For starters, if you miss the shot, you're giving your team a chance to get an offensive rebound. Second, if the player with the ball doesn't have a good shot, he still might be able to pass the ball to someone else who might get a good one.

I'm sure there's an optimal time to try and get a shot off, and that's probably around 4-5 seconds left on the clock. If you miss and the other team gets a rebound, pushes the ball up the court in 3 seconds and drains a 3 to beat you, so what? You've already done what gives you the best chance to win the game immediately, and at least you didn't have to play for 5 more minutes to get your loss.

All that said, the Wolves lost this game because of poor rebounding and not because of KG's last second shot selection. (more on this concept later)

Sacto Queens

The Wolves started out playing like shit. They didn't even score for the first 6 minutes of the second quarter. At one point, they missed 18 straight FG attempts. I'd like to say that this was just bad luck, but it wasn't. The Wolves took bad shot after bad shot. There were long jumpers by Kandi and Hassell and way too many 3-point attempts by McCants. To be honest, I don't think McCants has quite developed his NBA 3-point shot yet and I'd like to see him quit taking these for a while. He's 5-25 on the season and most of these have been wide open.

However, after this tremendous drought, the Wolves really seemed to bring it together. It would have been a pretty nice comeback victory except that Bonzi Wells threw a ball 25 feet in the air only to miraculously have it fall through the basket.

Something that occurred to me after the game was that the drastic improvement in the Wolves play happened to coincide with Mark Madson entering the game. This is perhaps coincidence and perhaps not. One thing that did happen is that the Wolves seemed to play with more energy and their shot selection improved dramatically once Maddog came in. Instead of having Kandi and Hassell taking 20-footers and McCants taking 25-footers, we were getting jumpers by Wally, shots from KG (I don't really care where these come from because they always seem to be good shots), and layups by anybody.

There are two things that have really brought down the Wolves so far this season--rebounding and getting to the line. They currently rank 3rd in FG% and 5th in opponent FG%. These are both pretty amazing, and given these two stats, you'd expect the Wolves too be about 17-3 right now.

The rebounding problem seems to me to come not so much from opponents rebound, but rather our own lack of offensive rebounds. There are really only two players (EG and Maddog) who routinely crash the offensive boards. Often it seems as though as soon as the Wolves are all halfway down the court as soon as a shot goes up, leaving 5 of the opposite color jerseys to gobble up the rebound.

There are certainly some goog things about this approach, and it's almost certainly linked to the Wolves high ranking in opponent FG%, but I think the Wolves could probably work out a slightly better scheme, giving up more fast breaks to get more offensive rebounds. There's no reason to not have at least one person going after the rebound on every shot.

The lack of free throws is nothing new for the Wolves who have been a jump shooting team for years. Currently, the Wolves rank 2nd to last in the NBA in FTA. Wally has been doing a better job this season, and his ball handling actually seems quite reasonable. I think McCants will also help with this once he starts to mature as a player.

Right now, however, the Wolves always seem to have at least one extended stretch in every game where they don't seem to do anything but take midrange jumpers. Perhaps the Wolves could remedy this by just running at the basket when they see nothing better.

Tonight, the Wolves have their toughest game of the season. Tomorrow will (probably) bring the return of my NBA betting.