Since I haven’t done a recap before, here’s a quick introduction. I’m Joshua , TheShrink, or shrinkray21. I’m a lifelong Minnesota Sports fan, or masochist depending on your definition. I teach Math in small town South Dakota and coach a variety of sports. I’m a Ricky Rubio apologist through and through.
Tonight, the Minnesota Timberwolves (23-22) take on the Memphis Grizzles (24-20) at the Target Center. In an effort to not step on Tim’s toes, I will be taking a slightly different route with this recap. The first part will be my thoughts on a quarter by quarter basis followed by a more standard report card.
Like many of you, my opinions during a game are more volatile and opinionated than after.
- The Timberwolves have won 5 of 6 while the Grizzles have won 8 of 9. It’s crazy to read that and see both teams are barely over .500 and out of the playoff picture.
- Ricky attacked the basket on the first real possession of the game, great to see. His offense the rest of the quarter was hard to watch.
- I have a theory about offensive basketball. The team that expends less effort to get good shots is more likely to win. Memphis has 8 shots in the paint already. (Minnesota - 8, Memphis – 11)
- The offense clearly misses Pek. I understand the deficiencies of a Love/Pek frontline, but not having Pek is leaving the starting lineup with not enough scorers. (12 – 19)
- I wonder if Adelman’s offense contributes to the team’s poor transition defense. Martin and Brewer make great cuts along the baseline, but I have to imagine being there makes it tougher to get back on defense. (18 – 23)
- Minnesota is clearly looking to push the pace. It has contributed to a few turnovers, but I think it’s strategically the right choice.
- "You can’t be happy with that end of quarter execution. It’s just not good" – Jpete (you are correct sir!)
- I find it hard to form an opinion on JJ Barea. I wonder if the rotations make it difficult for him to do anything other than trying to score on every possession.
(Timberwolves – 22, Memphis – 30)
- Memphis is good at defense because they are good at defending the pick and roll. Their bigs are smart even though they aren’t abnormally quick. They baited both JJ and Shved into taken contested 3’s in consecutive possessions (24 – 36)
- OH MY GAWD. Dieng with the massive block. This might be why Canis has been screaming to get you into the game. (28 – 36)
- This process makes me feel like I’m having a conversation with Jpete. The man is crazy good at his job.
- I'm glad James Johnson is getting playing time. A hyper athletic, energy player fits nicely on this Memphis bench. (28 – 42)
- Minnesota has 10 turnovers, and they’ve come in every shape and variety. The last was a picture perfect pass on a picture perfect backdoor cut, but Corey forgot the ball. (35 – 44)
- Ricky tried to take a charge but was called for a block. I think it was the incorrect call, and he got a technical foul. It might be the most energy any player has shown in the first half. (35 – 50)
- The Wolves tied their season low for points in a half with 37. They are down 13, but I think that might be a tad lucky. The Grizzles are destroying them in every facet of the game up to this point. Love is hobbled as well after rolling his ankle late in the quarter.
- It is hard to pinpoint a specific player that is beating the Wolves right now. Lee has the most points (12), and Zbo has 9 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists. It has been a team effort.
- Gasol looks like he’s at about 90%, which is still All NBA good. I’m a big fan.
- Remember when people thought Memphis got robbed in the Gasol trade?
(Minnesota – 37, Memphis – 50)
- In order to win, Minnesota needs fewer turnovers, and they have to defend the paint better. Period.
- I hate stats like "Team A often wins games when they are ahead at halftime" or "Team B has a great winning percentage when they shoot well." Those stats are only interesting if they are different than the norm.
- Speaking of which, I wonder what the average winning percentage is when a team is leading at half?
- Kevin Martin just created a poster out of Prince. Quick! Someone post that gif to /r/nba! (41 – 52)
- Great effort play by Kevin Love. Wolves are making highlights, but not making a dent in the lead.
- Kevin Love refuses to let this game get away. He gets a block on Zbo then hits a three on the other end. (48 – 59)
- Love jumper and two Turiaf dunks from Ricky. I love watching Ricky pass, but I LOVE watching Turiaf dunk. The Target Center is trying to get involved in the game. (55 - 63)
- I can’t believe how much I love this team. Kevin is 6 for 6 in the quarter, and Ricky’s defense and passing is infectious. Grizzles hit a 3 to quiet the crowd momentarily. (61 – 66)
- First Wolves lead of the night as Love hits another jumper (67 – 66)
- Kevin Love is better at basketball than I will be at anything in my life.
- That fact is in no way depressing.
- In tonight’s piece of shocking information, the lead happened because turnovers went down and defense improved (especially in the paint)
Minnesota – 67, Memphis – 66
- Dante is having a hell of a game. Great drive and dunk (69 – 68)
- I like Shved, but I like Martin playing with the second unit more. Good defensive unit with just enough scoring.
- I want Ricky to learn Conley’s floater. However, all Ricky needs to be a great player is hitting his layups and shooting 3’s at a respectable rate. (71 – 72)
- JJ hitting back to back 3’s. I’ve said mean things about you, and I apologize profusely for all of them. Mike Miller answers with a 3. (77 – 79)
- I just saw the NBA store commercial with Chandler Parsons and Andre Iguodala playing 100 vs 100. I assumed they were playing a huge game of Red Rover. Now I want this to happen. As I was typing Conley rolled his ankle BADLY.
- JJ made one of the greatest passes I’ve seen this year to a streaking Love. (83 – 80)
- Late game execution is a tricky concept. I’ve seen people say the Wolves are hampered by their play style. I wonder if all late game situations can be classified as small sample sizes due to the small number of possessions. (85 – 84)
- How many close games do you need to play before the sample size would be large enough?
- 2:24 left. This is an incredible game and a testament to how good the West is this year. The playoffs are going to be ridiculous.
- Zbo is too good. He’s been dominant in the 4th quarter. (85 – 88)
- Prince hits a corner 3 on a missed assignment. I think it was Brewer’s man, but I’m not sure it was his fault. (85 – 91)
- Memphis scored on 8 of their last 9 possessions. (90 – 94)
The Wolves Lost Because
The second half was substantially better than the first, but a 13 point deficit is difficult to overcome. An idea that’s underestimated is the amount of energy it takes to make a run in the NBA. While every team will make a comeback, it is incredibly difficult to maintain the energy it took to make the run in the first place.
The Wolves played great in the second half, especially Rubio and Love, but the Grizzles played better in the last 2 – 3 minutes. Minnesota only had 2 turnovers in the second half, but they only forced 9 in the entire game. A few turnovers would have helpful in those last couple of minutes.
Poor Overall Shooting
The team shot 39 – 84 total and 6 – 22 from three. However, taking Love out means they shot 3 – 15 from three. It was a poor shooting night from everyone sans Love and Kevin Martin, who went 7 – 17. However, the biggest discrepancy is free throws.
The Wolves got 7 free throws all night. (7??!!) Much of that is due to a missing Montenegrin, but more of it had to do with Memphis defense. This team is as advertised: an elite defensive team trying to score enough points to win. Tonight they did even with shooting splits of 48/33/64.
ZBo had 26 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 assists. However, he dominated in the fourth quarter, especially in the last few minutes. With Conley injured, the team needed someone who could win a one on one matchup. Even though Love’s defense is improved, that is a tough test.
In a close game like this a few bounces can change a team's fate pretty quickly. The Wolves missed a couple open shots, and ZBo closed it out, giving his team a much needed win.
Minnesota - 90, Memphis - 94