The Wolves survived November with a 7-8 mark, not awesome, but not terrible as well. At this point, it's only prickly math that doesn't have the Wolves in the final WC playoff spot. Prior to the season I called 9-6 for November. That was knowing Kevin would miss most of it, but then Bud went down...and JJ...and...well we all know the litany. Needless to say, Josh arrived, the ship teetered, but is now nearly righted. Ricky is closing in on a return and I suspect Luke's Back is most thankful to hear that news.
In case you haven't noticed, the West is stacked and tight. (paging PoorDick...) Banking wins now means those are fewer wins you have to frantically chase after the All Star break when it is expected, FSM willing, that the club is FULLY healthy.
Brief review of Wolves state:
Alexey is starting to stabilize two problem areas for the team that occurred when Brandon and Bud went down: 2 guard play and steady outside shooting.
Ricky is nearing a return. None of us know exactly what we'll see from him. I tend to think he'll be fine as his game was never premised on explosion to the rim. The biggest hurdle is psychological confidence: Trust the knee and ligaments. Lest we forget, Ricky was an excellent defender, in part, because he was so willing to step in for charges and being relentless in staying in front of his man. Any reticence he has will most certainly manifest on defense. Frankly, I think his passing, game management and shooting will be fine. It's defense I worry about.
Kevin should round into form soon enough.
No trades appear on the horizon, whether that be at Kahn's or Adelman's discretion. So what we have simply needs to start gelling and getting better.
What is the road ahead? Here be the games. Only 12 games this month, evenly split home-n-away.
Dec 4 @ PHL
Dec 5 @ BOS
Dec 7 CLE
Dec 12 DEN
Dec 14 @NO
Dec 15 DAL
Dec 17 @ORL
Dec 18 @MIA
Dec 20 OKC (TNT debut!)
Dec 23 @NYK
Dec 26 HOU
Dec 29 PHX
Only two back-2-backs. Oddly, in a short 12 game month, they have 5 games over 7 days from the 14th-20th.
BIG Game: Nuggets game. That game is at the end of another Denver road trip and a b2b for them as well. The Wolves will have had 4 days off. That is one they need to notch in the W column in this WC.
I call 8-4. Overly optimistic? Maybe. However, a team that aspires for the postseason needs to start collecting Ws and sloughing off excuses. In the NBA, good teams protect their house and play .500 on the road. Looking ahead, there are three gettable road wins in December: PHL, ORL, NO. The toughest home game will be the Dallas game, imo. 2nd game of a back-2-back. Yep, I think the OKC game will be easier. At home, first TNT game in the Love/Rubio era, Ernie, Jet, Chuck and Shaq, big, loud crowd- yeah, we're taking that one.
After that, the rest of the schedule sets up well. Leisurely pace to end the month against other WC teams we should be ready to put away at home.
What does the Hoopus Collective say?