It’s Wednesday, let’s be happy. The Wolves are 8-5 and sitting in the fourth spot in the Western Conference. They host the Spurs tonight in what should be an exciting game as they look to avenge their loss in San Antonio on opening night.
The 8-5 comes despite not playing all that well, to be honest. They are 20th in SRS, have the point differential of a 6-7 squad, and sport the league’s 28th rated defense. But I’m choosing to look on the bright side: That 8-5 is in the bank, and there is plenty of room to get better.
I’ve been doing some lineup research over the last couple of days, but have decided to table a longer analysis until we are a little further into the season. The samples are still very small and there is a lot of volatility game to game. That said, one thing they could do (but won’t) to likely be better is play Tyus Jones and Nemanja Bjelica more. Of the 2-man combinations with more than 100 minutes, that is the best by net rating at +9.6.
An intriguing lineup for me that has barely seen the floor is the Jones-Andrew Wiggins-Jimmy Butler-Bjelica-Taj Gibson group. Basically, Bjelica with all four of those guys in 2-man pairings kills it. As a group, they’ve played together only nine minutes, so their +115 net rating is meaningless.
Basically what I’m saying is I’d like to see some more mixing and matching. Some more staggering of lineups. Wiggins and Butler are going to play heavy minutes—the roster essentially requires it. But they appear to have capable backups at point guard and up front, and should make better use of them.
At any rate, a lot more to come on lineups soon, but as I say, we need to get a few more games in the books before we really delve too deep.
Meanwhile, six of their next eight games are at home, including a week-long, four game homestand over Thanksgiving week. Once again, a real opportunity awaits, and it’s up to them to take advantage of it.
Around the League
The Celtics won their 13th in a row last night against Brooklyn. It’s really quite amazing how adaptable they are. They are the top defense in the league even starting a rookie and Kyrie Irving, never known for his prowess at that end. After struggling on the boards last season, they are among the best in the league on the glass this year. They are deep, and it’s quality depth. Everyone who plays helps them. Brad Stevens is very good at his job.
The Rockets took a rare loss to the Raptors, who out shot them from three, going 14-30. The Rockets drop to 11-4 on the season, and the Warriors take over the top spot in the West on their own. The Raps are getting more contributions up and down the roster, instead of relying on Lowry and DeRozan quite as much, though DeRozan had a big night last night. In particular, C.J. Miles and OG Anunoby, a couple of CH favorites this summer, are playing well for the Raps, who are now 8-5.
It’s a full slate tonight, in addition to the Spurs-Wolves tilt, there are ten other games, including Detroit-Milwaukee which should be a good one. Of course, it’s all preamble to tomorrow night’s Warriors-Celtics showdown in Boston.
What ya got?