Simons Says - Dec. 6, 2012
Already, this NBA season has had the feeling of a roller coaster ride for Timberwolves fans and players too. Highs and lows. Injuries. The inability to get “on a roll.” From my GameON! Vantage point, I have a pretty good view of the bandwagon and so far, the faithful are still in the seats, enjoying the fare and ready for the next surprise. In fact, ask the Wolves Army (that band of energetic Wolves fans who hoot & holler the entire game from their seats in section 121 at Target Center) and they’ll tell you it’s all good. We’re just fine.
Other than a few subtle observations, I agree. That brings me to the week that’s now in the rear view mirror. Last stop, Boston. Admittedly, hardly a place where the Wolves have owned the C’s. Eleven-straight losses kinda stings. I know. It’s been a few years since Minnesota walked out of the Garden with a “W."
After two nice wins, the Wolves lose to Boston and show the effects of back-to-back road games as well as the bumps & bruises that continue to pester the players.
The first thing that jumps ship on a tired NBA player are the legs and being solid defensively. That 14-of-30 performance at the free-throw line needs some work and again, there will be nights like that. I get it. I’m certainly not making excuses for the Wolves overnight in New England but I can understand. Just as the players will tell you, there will be different outcomes later, from January to the April chase, when the team is healthy, intact and playing for playoff positioning.
I saw too many good things happen this week to let the Boston experience bring me down. Here’s just a few:
- Ricky Rubio is back and will be on the floor SOON. That changes the entire Wolves dynamic. Even as he’s playing into game shape, you know a little Rubio is better than none.
- The Wolves led at the half in Boston before their D evaporated. Fixable.
- After an off night in Philly, All-Star Kevin Love returned with his normal outing with a D2 (double-double). In 35 minutes, K-Love scored 19 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. Love’s bothered by some of the missed shots but his touch will return. Soon. Right there are two reasons why things are going to get better in a New Hope Minute. Love and Rubio back in the line-up. I like it.
- The continued strong play of NBA rookie Alexey Shevd. I’ve been blogging about the Russian rook and questions about him fill our GameON! Mailbag. There is no question that the arrival of Shevd makes this a better team. Against the 76ers, Shved scored a team-high 17 points, missing only three FG’s. Shevd continued his rocket launching from the land of 3 with 4-of-7 mark from behind the arc (Wolves PR tells me that was his second straight game with four threes, a career-best). In just over a week, Shevd is averaging around 16 a night and being a huge sparkplug off the bench.
You can tell that coach Rick Adelman likes the lanky guard. He’s getting nearly 25 minutes of playing time a night and most importantly, out of all this information, Shved appears to have his GameON! when it counts in the fourth quarter. Wolves PR also tells me that Shevd has scored 87 of his 173 (50.3%) points this season in the fourth quarter. Shved has now scored in double figures eight times this season.
- NBA stats indicate that the Wolves have the best defensive turnaround, of all teams, from last season. The Wolves have held opponents below 100 points 8 times this season. Impressive when you see that, in all of last season, Minnesota did it just 10 times.
- The Wolves are going to get some rest and practice time. In the next week, just two games, both at home. Cleveland (4-15, tied for worst record in the Eastern Conference) and George Karl’s Denver Nuggets in their second visit since the season started. This is going to help tremendously. Just ask trainer extraordinaire Gregg Farnam.
Now, a short dip into the GameON! mailbag:
>Wayne in Edina writes: “I truly appreciate your “glass half full” look at this Wolves basketball team. But do you really see them as a playoff team? Keep up the good work and love the show. You need to make it an hour.” Wayne, thanks for the kudos and 30 minutes is long enough. And yes, I certainly think the Wolves will be enjoying the latter part of April into May (hopefully beyond). Two quick reasons. They are improved defensively. That’s huge and secondly (and which supports my first reason), when the roster comes together, you will see the dynamic change on the court. There are solid pieces here. Don’t just take my word for it. Observations have come from all over the country and basketball world about this improved team. I see good days ahead.
>Larry in Osseo: “Do you think the Wolves rushed Love back and are they rushing Rubio?” No and no. Love was ready and he even says so. Listen, when he gets the medical clearance and is feeling good, who’s to tell him no?! Yes, his shot isn’t quite there but it’ll come. As for Rubio, he’s been hawked and watched by so many. It’s time for him to give it a spin and return. Rubio will be carefully monitored for sure. Good question and thanks for that. I hear this one a lot.
Don’t forget, say hello if we pass at Wolves games and I look forward to seeing you downtown for an upcoming GameON! taping in the new year! We’re right there in the middle of all the excitement so please keep an eye on our website for the taping times and come out to meet some of your favorite players.
And make sure you take time to enjoy the holiday season. The snow is coming. We all have much for which to be grateful. Bring on the Cavs and keep your GameON!
The deadline is almost here for Coats! Coats! Coats!
The Kevin Love coat drive is nearing the end of its successful run to help those in need this winter. It’s scheduled to run through Dec. 12 so all you have to do is bring new and gently used coats to any of eight metro-area drop-off locations, including the Target Center Box Office and Comcast service centers. Love will deliver all donations to The Salvation Army on Dec. 19.
The goal is to make sure no one goes cold. Let’s help out! If you donate, Love is saying thanks by giving you tickets to watch the team play. Love has purchased tickets to the Timberwolves' Dec. 26 game vs. the Houston Rockets and the Dec. 29 game vs. the Phoenix Suns. Fans will receive a pair of tickets to one of these games for each coat they donate (limit four tickets per family on a first come, first served basis while supplies last. Check out Timberwolves.com for more info.
Congrats to Coach Reeve!
Cheryl Reeve has agreed to a multi-year contract extension to stay with the Lynx. She’s the real deal as Reeve has led the Lynx to back-to-back WNBA Finals appearances, including its first championship in 2011 and the best record in the league since being hired.
With Coach Reeve leading the way, the Lynx won a WNBA-best 67 games dating back to the start of the 2010 season and Minnesota’s 54 regular season wins over the past two seasons are the second highest two-season win total in WNBA history.
You might remember that the Lynx started last season 10-0, becoming the first team in WNBA history to open a season with 10 consecutive victories. Leading the Lynx to their first WNBA title in 2011, Reeve was selected as the WNBA’s Coach of the Year, becoming the second coach to earn the honor in franchise history (Suzie McConnell Serio, 2004). Minnesota’s 14-game improvement between 2010 and 2011 was the second-largest single-season win increase in WNBA history.
Holiday Hoops anyone?!
The Wolves & Lynx Basketball Academy is hosting 8-basketball clinics over the holidays. The clinics will occur around the metro area during the holiday season in Chanhassen, Eagan, Lakeville, Maple Grove, Minnetonka, Prior Lake/Savage, St. Louis Park and Wayzata from December 27-28. The clinics are for boys and girls ages 7 to 14, and aim to teach young basketball players the fundamentals of shooting, dribbling and defense. Each participant receives a Timberwolves T-shirt, as well as instruction from Timberwolves staff members. Attendees are asked to bring a lunch and their own basketball to the clinic. To register for any clinic, go to www.timberwolves.com/holiday-clinics. For additional questions, contact Pat Freeman at (612) 673-1206 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re all on MY29!
You know that GameON! is on FOX’s MY29! The Wolves offer a franchise-record 78 regular-season games televised locally, including 50 on Fox Sports North and 25 on the Wolves' exclusive over-the-air broadcast home, WFTC My29. For the second consecutive season, every Wolves regular season contest will be carried live on News Radio 830 WCCO-AM.
See you on TV
Catch your Wolves on this Sunday’s GameON! this week!! You don’t want to miss the Emmy nominated GameON! this Sunday morning on FOX’s My29 at 10:30 a.m. Our special show comes from Vikings HQ with a focus on football and family, highlighting the team’s work to benefit adoption. Vikings GM Rick Spielman, Receiver Jarius Wright and lineman Joe Berger along with Twins baseball curator Clyde Doepner and GameON! Fantasy football guru Jeremy Johnson. All GameON! shows are broadcast in High Definition and can be found on ITunes, on our new GameON! App (free and available for Apple/Android) and online at www.gameontvmn.com.
GameON! allows you the opportunity to get up close and personal, to meet your favorite players and fellow fans at our weekly tapings. GameON! offers in-depth interviews with the top players, great food, sports newsmakers and we get you inside your favorite teams (including the Wolves). You can friend us on Facebook at GameOnTvMN. Drop me a note, Rod@GameOnTvMn.com. GameON! is also seen in North & South Dakota and Western Minnesota on MidCo SportsNet several times a weekend. We reserve the right to use your e-mails here in SimonsSays at Timberwolves.com.
Keep your GameON! See you soon!