Practice Report | Jan. 30, 2014
Practice Report | Jan. 30, 2014
Before Wednesday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans, many questions were focused on Ronny Turiaf and Gorgui Dieng and how the two could replace Nikola Pekovic’s contributions.
After Thursday’s practice, Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman made it clear that there aren’t very many players in the league if any that can replace Pekovic. Instead, everyone on Minnesota’s roster will have to step up a little bit more.
“It’s just our guys need to understand, I think sometimes a guy goes out like that and you’re looking at that position and I look at it, everyone has to do more,” Adelman said. “Because everything changes, not completely, but it does change. Kevin Martin’s got to do more, Corey’s (Brewer) got to (do more), everyone’s just got to reach down a little bit more.”
A concern that might not be obvious is the attention that Kevin Love will earn without Pekovic in the lineup. With Pekovic down low, teams were forced to rotate down because of his offensive ability. If Love were to post up without Pekovic in the lineup, though, he’s almost guaranteed to be double-teamed.
With Pekovic out, the obvious answer might be for Love to simply score more points, but with extra attention being focused to him, that might not be the case at all.
“Last night was the first game and you know, with Pek they had to honor Pek all the time and they naturally just spaced the court for us but even with Pek, they aren’t leaving Kevin (Love) at all and with Pek out now if we post up Kevin, they’re going to double him,” Adelman said. “We have to have movement. We have to have movement, take it to one side and then come back. We don’t want to come down and just throw the ball to him against a set defense. There’s got to be some activity first and then give him an opportunity. He’ll probably have to do more facing up, so it’s harder to double him. But then everybody else has to understand what their strengths are. We have to get cutters to the basket. We just have to have more body movement.”
On Wednesday, the Wolves got their first taste without Pekovic in the lineup against the depleted Pelicans. On Friday, however, they’ll have their hands full with the duo of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph inside. If there was ever a game to have Pekovic on the frontline, this would be it. Turiaf, Dieng, Love and Dante Cunningham will have to do their best in the post to slow those two down. But like Adelman said, the difference will likely come down to players like Martin, Brewer and Chase Budinger to create offense to keep the pressure off Love. Love will already have his hands full defensively trying to slow down Randolph.
Conley Will Challenge Wolves
For as much as we like to talk about the post players that Memphis has, we often forget that Mike Conley has become one of the league’s best point guards. He’s helped Memphis keep its head above water with Marc Gasol being out.
He’s on pace to have his best season as a pro, averaging 18.2 points (career-high), 6.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. He’s shooting 46.2 percent from the field, which is nearly two percentage points higher than his previous career high.
He scorched Minnesota earlier this season, putting up 28 points while hitting four 3-pointers.
“Well, Conley’s really good. He’s probably the next guy. He’s really good defensively and very good hands,” Adelman said. “He’s the one guy I think of all their perimeters that can really go off. I think he did last night, 26 or 28 points (Conley scored 27) last night (against the Kings).”
Ricky Rubio will get the majority of the time with Conley and it will be a challenge. Rubio happens to be the one of the best defensive point guards in the league. His 2.6 steals per game leads the league. With Minnesota post players already having their hands full on the defensive side of the ball, it will be important to limit Conley as much as he can.
“Yeah he’s tough and he knows how to play, he’s aggressive and he’s scoring more lately so we are going to try to keep him out of that,” Rubio said.
The Wolves tipoff against the Grizzlies tomorrow at the Target Center. The game will be aired on Fox Sports North and WCCO 830-AM at 7:00 p.m.