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Timberwolves Face Love for First Time, Saunders Thinks Fans Won't Forgive

The Wolves are back in action tonight in Cleveland against the Cavaliers. Flip Saunders had some comments about Love and the fans in advance of the match up.

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Let's get this out of the way first:

I suspect he's right in a way...I do expect Love to get booed when he returns to Target Center later in the season. But in truth, I think what most fans feel about the whole situation, and the team in general, is apathy.

Love was never hugely popular personally in Minnesota, likely in part because the team failed to succeed while he was here, but also due to some of his remarks in the press over the years, as well as his understandable reaction to the team's unwillingness to give him a five year max deal.

I suspect most who are paying attention don't actually blame him for wanting out, and understand that the dysfunction in the organization led to his departure. Still...the team is still here, and Love isn't, and he'll get some boos that he doesn't deserve when he returns.

That's later in the season, however, as tonight's tilt is in Cleveland at the start of a four game road trip.

It hasn't been all smooth sailing for the Cavs early in the season, though these things are relative. I would seriously consider selling my soul, or at least your soul, for a not-so-smooth 16-10 record.

With a new coach and two new star players, the Cavs are in the process of figuring out how to play. From this vantage point, it looks like they are not making full use of Kevin Love, as he has a usage rate barely over 20%, the lowest of his career,  and also has a FTr that is a career low. His assist rate is half what it was last season, and his 3Pr is the highest its ever been. In other words, he's spending too much time hanging around the 3 point line waiting for catch and shoot opportunities while LeBron James and Kyrie Irving play with the ball in their hands.

Clearly Love can be effective this way, and with the other guys at the Cavs disposal that may just be his role, but certainly he is not doing everything he is capable of so far.

Still, offense has not been the problem for the Cavs, who are 4th in the league in offensive rating. The real issue has been on defense, where they have struggled to keep teams from making shots. They are 25th in the league in opponents' efg%, and a big part of that is their 4th worst FG% against mark on shots witin 3 feet. Of course, the Wolves are league worst in that category.

We will have more on this tilt later, but I suspect that the Cavs will come out with a bit more purpose than you would expect against a lousy team at home in December, as Kevin Love will want to dominate. The Wolves will hopefully also play with urgency, especially after Sunday's debacle. The Cavs are clearly a much more talented team, however, and this one is going to be a major uphill battle.

A few notes:

  • Looking at stats makes me depressed. Wolves are giving up 2nd highest % of opponent shots within 3 feet, and give up highest FG% on those shots. In other words: Layup line.
  • It just occurred to me that Andrew Wiggins gets to face off against the best player in the world tonight!
  • You think Flip got another percent of the playbook installed? It could make all the difference. The first 5% was obviously the plays that generate lousy shots.
  • Detroit waived Josh Smith yesterday using the stretch provision, and apparently teams are lined up to sign him. I'm not sure I get it, but maybe he'll be 2015's version of Rasheed Wallace or something.
  • Corey Brewer made his debut for Houston in a rout over the Blazers, and did his thing. 12 points (5-10), 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 steals, team leading +23 in 23 minutes.
Today in history

1620: French Huguenots declare war on Louis XIII
1776: Thomas Paine writes "These are the times that try men's souls."
1779: Benedict Arnold court martialed
1788: Maryland cedes land for District of Columbia
1888: Vincent Van Gogh cuts off left ear
1912: Aswan Dam opens
1920: Home Rule Act passes partitioning Ireland
1954: First human kidney transplant performed in Boston

Today's musical birthday is Chet Baker, born in 1929 (d. 1988).

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Tuesday. Get it.