The Minnesota Timberwolves have played 27 games, or one third of the 2013-14 season. The first act is now over. The function of the first act is storytelling is to introduce the protagonist and present him with a problem to resolve in order to achieve something he deeply desires.
We now have a pretty good fix on this Wolves team and what challenges it faces to achieve its decade long goal of making the playoffs. The team has had a tough schedule and is hanging in there around .500, with a chance now to make a little noise against a softer slate of opponents while getting a couple of key players back.
Let's look at our protagonist, Kevin Love.
What will he need to get to the postseason? In short, a better bench and more efficient shooting from his teammates. Love's having an MVP season and the team does well on three of the four factors, but in an extremely tough Western Conference, the margin between playoffs and staying home (again) is razor thin.
Now let's look at the supporting characters - what can they do to help our protagonist?
Pek and Martin - stay healthy and play at career average or better
Rubio - hit some damn shots
Brewer and JJ - Improved consistency
Dieng and Turiaf - Get on the court
Bud and Luc - become important cogs
Rest of the bench - be ready if and when you are called upon
Adelman - Fix the defense in transition
Flip - Pull off a minor miracle and make a trade that brings in another useful player
As I correctly predicted last milepost, the Wolves went 4-5 over the past nine games - though if I'd known we'd be losing a game with SAS and adding one against LAL I would have upped my forecast to 5-4.
- 8th in differential
- 5th in strength of schedule
- 8th in SRS
- 10th in ORtg and 10th in DRtg
- 2nd in pace
- Four Factors (offense): 26th in eFG%; 3rd in TOV%; 4th in ORB%; 6th in FT/FGA
TIMBERWOLVES - 13-14, 11th in the Western Conference (would be tied for 4th in the Eastern Conference; would be leading the Atlantic Division)
LAST 9 GAMES
@OKC - L
(San Antonio - FIRE!!!)
Miami - L
@Detroit - W
Philadelphia - W
@San Antonio - L
@Memphis - W
@Boston - L
Portland - W
@Lakers - L
Projected record: 6-3. Losses to the Clippers and Thunder would not be unexpected, but they should be able to make hay with the rest of this schedule, which starts a stretch with plenty of games against teams they should beat and need to beat.
NBA TOP TEN WATCH
Points - Love #3
Rebounds - LOVE #1
Assists - Rubio #7
Steals - Rubio #2
FGs - Love #6
3PTs - Love #8
FT - Love #3, Martin #10
FT% - Martin #4
TO% - Cunningham #6 (not good)
Win Shares - Love #4
Jeckyll and Hydeness - JJ BAREA #1
EX-WOLVES WATCH (Small sample size)
Webster - .175 WS/48
Beasley - .160 WS/48
Kirilenko - .134 WS/48
Tolliver - .085 WS/48
DWill - .081 WS/48 (.021 w/MN, .111 w/SAC)
Wes - .077 WS/48
Wayne - .038 WS/48
Stiemsma - .008 WS/48
Ridnour - -.003 WS/48
Since the Wolves have played 27 games, I leave you with this Irving Berlin classic that was published in '27:
Let's hope for the Wolves and their fans that it's nothing but blue skies from now on...