Practice Report: Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012
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Rest is coveted during an NBA season. Going through long stretches of games is nothing unusual, and whenever a team gets a few days of reprieve from gameday it tends to help its players both mentally and physically.
Wolves forward Andrei Kirilenko knows that all too well. After Tuesday’s practice at Target Center, the 11-year NBA veteran noted that the Wolves have played about as many games in the first five weeks of the season as he played through half the year with CSKA Moscow in Russia a year ago.
“I like those stretches when we have like three days between the games, and it feels like we work on some stuff and get better,” Kirilenko said. “I feel like we’re getting better.”
Minnesota begins a stretch of six games in nine days tomorrow night against the Denver Nuggets at Target Center, a stretch that includes five playoff teams from a year ago, back-to-backs in New Orleans on Friday and Minneapolis on Saturday and a grand finale against the defending Western Conference champion Oklahoma City Thunder next Thursday on TNT.
Between the trips to and from Minnesota, the Wolves will travel approximately 5,830 miles in the span of those nine days.
That’s enough travel to make coach Rick Adelman appreciate these four days off—much like the calm before the storm.
“It’s always good to have these breaks,” Adelman said. “As soon as you have these breaks, they’re going to nail you with a lot of games. It’s good to judge where your team is at.”
In the process, Minnesota has used its valuable time to recuperate, take Saturday off before going back to work Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Adelman said the team has gotten in good runs scrimmaging, and along the way they’ve been able to sharpen up a few parts of their game offensively and defensively.
When the Wolves get practice time, they’ve used it wisely.
“We always like to scrimmage a lot,” Adelman said. “I think a lot of this year, we’ve been alternating because sometimes you don’t have people playing.”
Minnesota will get a little bit of a break after this run. In the final 11 days of December, the Wolves will have just three games—traveling to New York on Dec. 23 and home against Houston on Dec. 26 and Phoenix on Dec. 29.
The next time the Wolves have as many as four consecutive days off will be All-Star Weekend in February, and that will be the last time they’ll have this type of break during the 2012-13 campaign.
Center Nikola Pekovic said the most important part of the days off between resting the legs, working on conditioning and polishing their skills/gameplan is working on getting better as a team.
“We just need to get some time to do some things on the court maybe it's from defense or offense, so these four days were good for us because we got time,” Pekovic said. “We were working a lot on some stuff that probably we didn't get much time to do before so it was good for us."
Adelman said in the long term facing such a deep Western Conference, in which 5 ½ games currently separate the No. 4 and No. 12 spots, taking advantage of these breaks is important.
“We have in our conference so many teams bunched together,” Adelman said. “You’ve got to go out, and anyone who gets on a little bit of a run can separate themselves. We have to find a way to do that.”