Greg Smith-US PRESSWIRE
The Timberwolves run out of magic against the Bulls
If there's any team in the league that won't get swept away by good fortune, it's the Bulls (well....and the Grizzlies, but hey, we didn't play them tonight...) The Timberwolves came into tonight's tilt with a Western Conference best 4-1 record, built primarily on creativeness, flexibility, sheer will power, and a rather improbable string of mini-miracles.
Well, you can only string so many of those together in a row.
Much like Blackberry phones and the Republican Party, Minnesota was done in tonight by the same thing that gets us all sooner or later: reality. They took a severely shorthanded roster to an away game against a better team, and got beat. They stepped out of the Drematorium and tried to do the Lindbergh Lean.
With so many players hurt, the Wolves are obviously weak in a few critical areas...no more glaring than scoring punch. Love's absence and Derrick Williams' inability to consistently knock down shots means opposing teams can easily double down on Pekovic without fear of being burnt at the 4 position. Granted, a part of this is on Pek....he needs to develop a consistent mindset of looking for passing opportunities rather than immediately rolling to the hoop when he gets the ball. But much, much more of this is on Williams....he needs to make his shots. There's no two ways of saying it. When you aren't a scoring threat, teams will leave you to trap the guy who is, even when that guy doesn't have the ball yet. Thibodeau is no fool. If anyone is going to realize this, it's Coach Thibs.
There's no Love, no Rubio, no Roy, no Barea. That means, right now, this team's fortunes rest on Williams and Shved. Pekovic and Kirilenko are fantastic (there aren't enough good adjectives in the history of the Russian language to describe the level of ball AK-47 is playing this year) But they aren't enough.
Sometimes Shved will take over the floor, like he did against Brooklyn. Sometimes Williams will scorch the nylon, like he did against Indiana. But when neither do either....when Shved plays like the rookie he really is, and Williams shoots like we've unfortunately come to expect, 'Sota is dead on the hardwood. Tonight, the Wolves tried to do it by the book, but didn't have the personel for it....and wouldn't have been able to get it by the Bulls anyway. That's a team that lives off of shutting down the predictable.
On a brighter note, Malcolm Lee looks like he's going to be a legitimate NBA player. Thank the Force the notoriously anti-young player Adelman has enough trust in Shved and Lee to put them on the floor, because he won't have a choice now.
So here's hoping the Wolves remember they're weird. It the only way to make things work with half the roster in street clothes. No weird-downs, no more Lindbergh Leans, no more regular games. That's the old, rich white man demographic of the NBA. When you're outnumbered and outgunned, you have to get creative with your strategies. Bowler hats and Blorgon patrols it is.