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Cavaliers 123, Wolves 106: Same Ol’ Wolves

Once upon a time, there was a myth called “New Wolves.”

Cleveland Cavaliers v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

It seems like it was just yesterday that the Minnesota Timberwolves rollercoaster was at an all-time high. They had won 7 of their last 8 including 2 thrillers against Jimmy Butler’s Miami Heat and Joel Embiid’s 76ers. Hell, even in Canis Hoopus Vol. XIII even revealed that 96% of CH’ers were optimistic of the direction of the team. The “New Wolves” had arrived!

If you were surprised at this “sudden” turn of events, then you must be new to the game.

The Wolves are seasoned alchemists who can easily turn positive momentum into negative momentum. We’ve seen it way too many times in the past. They are expert thieves of joy, as Michael Scott once said. Credit where credit’s due though. The Nets, Hawks, Jazz, and even Wizards & Cavs are formidable opponents. The latter two franchises have quickly turned their fortunes around from last season and one has to wonder if they have been added to the list of teams who have lapped Minnesota in the race to rebuild. As our still best old friends Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio visited town tonight, it was a perfect reminder of what happens once “franchise cornerstones” leave town.

  • Ricky immediately found playoff success with the Utah Jazz, helped turn the Phoenix Suns around, and is now doing the same for Cleveland.
  • Love won a championship with LeBron in Cleveland.
  • Jimmy Butler immediately led the 76ers and Miami Heat to lengthy playoff runs.
  • Even Andrew Wiggins is being wrongly lauded for his contributions for the league-best Golden State Warriors.
  • We all know what happened with Kevin Garnett and the Boston Celtics.

I’m not going to irresponsibly speculate about Karl-Anthony Towns or Anthony Edwards, but nothing that I shared above isn’t a fact. Of course, there’s plenty of season left. We knew this stretch of games would be particularly difficult (Things don’t ease up until the start 2022). It doesn’t help that our defensive leader (!) D’Angelo Russell has been out for the majority of this current 5-game losing streak. Although the defense has obviously regressed, it’s hard to believe that the offense can remain this dysfunctional for long. I imagine Sachin Gupta and the front office have been active on the phones with trade rumors swirling among other NBA teams. Things won’t remain this bad forever, but I do know one thing that is inevitable when it comes to the Timberwolves: It’s always the same ‘ol Wolves.

Oh yeah, there was a basketball game that was played tonight. Hard to say it was a game though, as it was more like a clinic by the Cavs. There was a lot of chatter about how they “play big” and how that would be a terrible matchup for the notoriously small Wolves squad, and it was obvious from the opening tip that it was true. Cleveland easily scored 10 of their first points in the paint and immediately built a double-digit lead. It only took 8 minutes before the lead ballooned to 19 points in the Cavs favor.

And that was pretty much it.

For all the fanfare that the Wolves resiliency received for not laying down when things got tough, the Wolves were the opposite of “resiliency” for about the third game in a row. Cleveland took one look at the shellshocked Wolves in the 1st quarter and probably said to themselves, “Man, it’s pretty sweet to play the Wolves!” (S/O D’Lo). There’s pretty much nothing else to recap about this game, unless you want to jump into a debate about whether the Wolves defense (Gave up 54.1% shooting) or offense (39.1% from the field) looked worse out there. The Cavs slept-walked their way to lob dunk after lob dunk while on defense, they watched the Wolves haplessly stand around until someone hoisted a brick disguised as a three point attempt.

The Cavs didn’t get to the 30-point marker until midway in the 4th, but they still comfortably held a 20-point lead for pretty much all four quarters of the game. Minnesota never got any closer than 18 in the 2nd half, aside from a little run in garbage time to make the final score look somewhat respectable. But hey, I enjoyed watching Ricky lead another non-Wolves team to respectability, witnessing the magic of the Evan Mobley-Jarrett Allen front court, and most of all, getting to see my 2 buddies enjoy a victory tonight!

Game Highlights

Pack Leaders

Omega - Minnesota blizzard
Mother nature tried to warn fans. Apparently a whirlwind of snow hit Target Center and kept most people from attending the game. Unfortunately, a small handful of fans still made their way in to watch this lopsided one. Perhaps even more unfortunate was that it didn’t stop me from watching it from sunny California.

Delta - Fan that spilled a drink on the court
After one of Minnesota’s 56 misses on the night, Jarrett Allen went flying into a baseline front row seat. Dave Benz pointed out that the fan Allen ran into spilled a drink all over the place. Kudos to them for trying to stop the game.

Beta - Crunch
Even as the Cavs took a 30+ point lead in the 4th, I saw him dancing his heart out during a break in the action. I think I even saw him throw a t-shirt like 20 rows into the stands. Respect.

Alpha - Jarred Vanderbilt
The only real, human player (That wasn’t wearing a Cavs jersey) that participated today worth mentioning is Jarred Vanderbilt. He was one of maybe two players who played with any sense of urgency tonight. There was a really cool segment where Vando hit a three pointer (His first one!), swished 2 free throws, then scored a sick and-1 dunk. Sure, he missed that ensuing free throw and also air-balled a midrange jumper later, but that’s what happens when your offense is so ineffective that you’re resorting to Vando to carry the team.

What’s Next

The Wolves travel to face the Portland Trailblazers on Sunday, 12/12 @ 8pm CT. Although CJ McCollum is likely out due to a collapsed lung, Minnesota will likely get a look at Damian Lillard in his first game back from a rib injury. Will the losing continue, or will KAT’s hunger strike end?