It has been a long time since I have posted something here. Still come to the site frequently, but for a lot of reasons, just don’t have the time to post much. At least until last night’s game. Sitting through that game left me with lots of time to gather thoughts on just what is happening to our team. The game reminded me so, so much of the games 5 years or so ago. My row (section 130) was less than half full for the game. Now weather certainly plays a part, but it is the worse turnout that in my row all season (I split season tickets 3 ways). Section 128 was damn near empty. I’m guessing we had maybe 12,000 people tops in the building. The atmosphere was somber – and that was even before the game started. There is hardly any energy in the building. It seemed like the promotions staff cranked up the music and sound effects extra loud just to get some noise going. Not sure exactly what it is but the fans who showed last night really did not seem to be in to the game (at least until the last 2 minutes – by which time – 3,000 or so fans had already left). Not going to game cap – others do a much better job at that than me. This was a game that was offered up to us on a silver platter, on several different occasions, yet we just could not pull it together to accept Sacramento’s gift. Rather, I just want to share some general observations
KLove is a great basketball player. He has done a tremendous amount of work on his game to maximize his talents. I did not see what happened, but he obviously got hurt some point early in the game and was playing with a noticeable limp. So, with that caveat, I have to say that it continues to be extremely disappointing to see KLove be the last man back on defense, nearly every time. And not because of the physical injury, but because he pouts (really the best word I can use) every time he misses a shot, does not get the call, fails to collect a rebound, etc. He shrugs, he talks to refs, he mopes back – just about everything short of what he really needs to do – which is hustle back and play some D. This is a leadership issue for me. As our superstar, KLove needs to lead the team is all facets – none being more important that just over all hustle. He is failing to do it which I think leads to some of the other issues we have.
Ricky Rubio’s shortcomings have been well discussed here (and elsewhere). But what I noticed last night was disturbing – Ricky played the entire game without any of the enthusiasm that he showed game after game in previous years. Even with all the defeats, and all the injuries, Ricky always played with enthusiasm. But last night, it was really noticeable to me - there just did not seem to be much joy in his game. Saw just a couple of smiles and a lot of shrugs and shoulders sagged. I am not sure if its internal pressure he is putting on himself (especially for scoring) or if it's a by-product of other things. But right now, Ricky is not in the right mental place to play the way we need him to play – as a top 10 point guard – to make this thing work.
Our defensive communication, especially between the bigs and the wings, is very poor. Considering that our bigs are not the most physically gifted – especially from a quickness standpoint – we need to compensate by having excellent defensive positioning. Not just for guarding the man with the ball, but for positioning for the help defensive that becomes necessary. Pek seemed really frustrated with both Rubio and JJ on the high screen and roll. It was not clear to me who was at fault, put the body language and the looks just made it clear someone was not doing their job. I didn’t look but I assume Sacramento must have shot 60% in the 1st half when the defense was at its worse. The defensive scheme just does not seem to be followed. Brewer was out tight on Gay, trying to get some steals, yet the defensive rotation was just not set up to provide the help that was going to be absolutely necessary if Brewer tried for the steal and missed. I was trying to figure out – was Brewer playing that way by design for this game or was he using his personal latitude. If by design, then his teammates were horrible out of position. If it was his own choice, then he needs some better guidance (or bench time) to get with the program.
The offensive communication is somewhat better (to be fair, it is actually very good in transition) but the anticipation in the half court needs work. Especially when we are not running a specific set but trying to isolate or run a simple two-man game. Ricky and KLove had a number of turnovers trying to work the 2 man game. A few were just poor decisions on Ricky’s part. But at least twice, Ricky threw the ball to the open post up spot on the floor only to watch KLove not move aggressively toward the ball.
More than anything, the most frustrating thing about last night had to be our coach. Or maybe his lack of coaching. I find Adelman in general to be a strong coach – great tactician, strategist, very experienced. Yet a huge part of being an NBA (or any professional league coach) is to be able to get your guys mental and emotionally ready to play. We were not ready last night – and I put that on the coach. As a singular event, it is OK to have a flat game. The grind of 82 games is going to result in the occasional day when the energy level is down. But this is the 3rd time I been in person at a game this year where our team came out horribly flat. Yet I have yet to see Adelman do anything extraordinary to get the guys fired up. He kind of goes through his rotation almost hoping that something clicks. If it does, he ends up following the "hot hand strategy" and just runs that unit into the ground. I am convinced that fatigue is a big part of why we haven’t won a close game. Adelman needs to do something to create the edge. He’s got a lot at his disposal – including prolonged time on the bench for anyone not getting it.
Anyhow, just some observations. What did others see?