David Stern gets the game picture for last night's game. While we here at Hoopus are well aware that League Pass Broadband has been outsourced to Turner Sports, the content still has Mr. Stern's league's name on it and ultimately the quality control buck stops at his desk.
Last night's tilt between 2 of the worst teams in the league was unwatchable on LPB for an entire half because Turner Sports is, according to their customer support, unable to broadcast more than 10 games at once. At first I was told that this was a "technical" problem, but later learned that it had something to do with broadcast rights...which wasn't a problem when LAC/PHX went live and no one got pre-empted.
At the end of the day I was able to watch the entire game because I know where the illegal streams are and Turner Sports eventually got the product I paid for up and running for the 2nd half. I continue to make LPB an issue on this site because I find it beyond ridiculous that the NBA's on-line offering is so consumer-unfriendly. Barring any changes, I will not be buying their product next year and will instead watch illegal game feeds for free. I encourage you to do the same. I also encourage you to contact your state and federal legislators and ask them to support fan-friendly internet broadcast measures whenever their favorite team is looking for a new stadium with public funding. Note to the Vikings fans: the Wilfs shouldn't get a dime unless the state of Minnesota can get the NFL (and TV networks) to agree to allow Minnesota Vikings fans to watch each and every single Purple game on-line for zero cost. You want public funding for your facilities? Then f$&k TV contracts.
Getting around to last night's game, let me begin by saying that had the Wolves not won last night's tilt against a terrible West Coast team on the 2nd night of a B2B (the 1st of which they lost to OKC), it would have been as bad a loss as the Disaster in Dallas. Thankfully, the Wolves played something approaching consistent ball and they walked away with the victory against the awful Warriors.
Before we check the Four Factors, let's take a look at the keys to the game I wrote before the Memphis game:
- 25 3PA
- 25+ FTA
- 25+ minutes and 0 3s from Bassy
- 25+ minutes and no post-ups from Love (we want mid-range jumpers from the line)
- 95+ pace
- A FG% above 47%
- Significantly limiting Memphis' offensive rebounds
- No Cardinal
- No Madsen
- No Ollie
How did they perform? 13 threes, 39 FTAs, 25 minutes and 1 3PA from Bassy, 26 minutes and mid-range action from Love, a 101 pace, a 45% FG (their 1st win under 47% all year), Oreb dominance (on both ends of the court), 11 minutes from Cardinal, and 17 minutes from Ollie.
The Wolves were especially impressive on the offensive glass, limiting the Warriors to only 23% of their misses compared to collecting 37% of their own.
I think I'm going to amend the game keys to reflect the practical direction I see this team taking going forward. First, if Ollie and Cardinal are playing less than 20 minutes per game and their minutes are taken from Rashad McCants and Craig Smith, I have zero problem with them getting some burn. I will never, ever, ever get why The Artist Formerly Known As The Rhino was re-signed over the summer. It made zero sense. I also am of the belief that the Shaddy/Foye Death Match has been decided and that the services of Mr. McCants will not be retained following the end of this season. Kevin Love should get the majority of the minutes at the 4. Ryan Gomes and Cardinal should be his primary backups. Randy Foye should get the majority of the minutes at the 2. Kevin Ollie and Rodney Carney (in the place of Corey Brewer) should be his primary backups with Carney filling in at the 3 (again, it's Brewer's role) and Bassy taking the same position at the 1. Here is what I think the rotation should be like from here on out:
- Ollie (10)/Bassy (25)/Foye (13)
- Foye (20)/ Miller (20)/Carney (8)
- Gomes (25)/Miller (5)/Carney (18)
- Love (20)/Cardinal (15)/Gomes (13)
- Jefferson (35)/Love & Cardinal (13)
I get that Shaddy and Smith will get minutes here and there but I'm having less and less of a problem with Ollie and Cardinal's minutes than I am with those two getting any kind of burn. Carney also should be getting whatever minutes Brewer would be getting as he is as similar a player as the Wolves have to last year's top pick and they need to keep his seat warm.
Let's take a look at last night's Four Factors:
I'm not sure the Wolves are capable of playing too much better. The one thing that is concerning about the way they have been playing of late is that they are relying heavily on free throws to make up for their awful shooting. During the Disaster in Dallas the Wolves played well when they were making free throws; not so much when they weren't. Last night the Wolves scored .934 points per shot while the Warriors made 1.037 (points-per-shot = [points-FTM]/fga). The Wolves are currently the 28th ranked team in terms of 2FG% at .353. They rank 26th (.558) in inside FG%. They're not going to get to the line nearly 40 times per game every night. 32 games into the season, you can still point to a single stat as the biggest reason why the Wolves lose games: piss-poor shooting. They have an unadjusted FG% of 43.4%, good for 29th in the league. This is the primary reason for their 27th ranked point differential: -6.5.
Ho-hum. Let's wrap this up with a few bullet points:
- Kevin Love should start making instructional videos for rebounding. If you want to show a young player how to position themselves for rebounds, watch Mr. Love. It's amazing what you can do if you keep your hands up.
- Love needs to recover quicker when he shows on screens. I think I counted 3 times last night where he didn't recover to the help side after showing on a screen. Typically, when you are beat, someone else will rotate over and help. It's then your job to help the helper.
- It's nice to finally see Love get some play in the high post. Last night he made some mid-range shots from near the free throw line as well as a few entry passes from the high post. This is where he belongs. This is where he has belonged since the beginning of the year. No post ups. He's a Euro-style offensive big with a good ol' fashioned American banger streak on the boards. I'll say what I've said many, many times before: he'll end up being every bit as good a player as O.J. Mayo. He won't be the scorer but a double/double rebounding machine in the high post with the ability to space the floor with a mid-range jumper and interior passing skills is exactly what you want next to Big Al. This team has to win with offense. Most good teams do (more on that later).
- I'm really enjoying J-Pete lately. Last night Hanny made a doozy of a comment about the Wolves playing better defensively against better teams. He based this ridiculous statement on nothing more than net points. J-Pete then broke in with a comment about pace and how the teams Hanny was talking about play at a slower pace. Granted, he didn't get it all right (good teams are not synonymous with slower paces) but it was an excellent point and it provided depth beyond what you get with a typical TV announcer paid by the team.
Wrapping this thing up, your job today (aside from watching the Wolves play Derrick Rose and the Bulls) is to read Knickerblogger's take-down of the worst columnist in sports, Bill Simmons. Boston Bill represents the absolute worst in modern journalism: inside-the-beltway conventional wisdom/hackery dressed up with pop culture references for the masses. Here being one of the few times I can put my Religious Studies/Political Science degree to use, Simmons engages in what is known as "prooftexting". He uses decontextualized information as an appeal to authority in order to prove a self-manufactured point about this, that, or the other issue. In this case, it's one about Steve Nash and Mike D'Antoni. The problem here (as with other examples of prooftexting) is that he doesn't seem to know the first thing about the context of the information/authority he is appealing to. He's a boob and his column is filled with nothing but boobery. Oh yeah, champions can win with offense.
PS: For a Warriors perspective, head on over to our sister site, a Golden State of Mind.