Simons Says - March 20, 2014

If you are an NBA fan (and that’s likely the case if you are visiting this outstanding website), then you know it’s been a week of Zen this and Philly that around the league.

Phil Jackson’s arrival in Gotham to lead the NY Knicks and attempt to restore the team’s stature was the worst kept secret in recent memory. The Philadelphia 76ers are rewriting the record books for the wrong reasons. And so those two teams, Miami’s LeBron James and his continued dominance and the playoff push steal the headlines.

So, I said it last week and as it sits this day (and as you read this) I’m kinda’ glad I did when I said I guess I’m in to the end with the Wolves.

You see, Minnesota’s pro basketball team, these roller coaster Wolves, have driven some mad this season. The pile of close losses, the high powered offense, the inconsistency and the struggles to stay over 500 have pushed many of the fair-weathered off the bandwagon. But not me.

I’m nowhere near the Twin Cities and I nearly jump out of my cabana when hearing the Wolves beat Dallas in OT. The Wolves beat the Mavericks IN Dallas!! That, my friend, is headline making material. They just have to jump on a plane, fly to Houston and do it again in 24 hours against the staggered Rockets. Houston, by the way, will likely be playing without injured center Dwight Howard.

So, let’s get this straight. The Wolves get their 34th win and get off the schneid by breaking that six-game stretch of alternating wins and losses. What it essentially means is that, for the first time since Thanksgiving, the Wolves are 2-games over .500. A HUGE night.

For those of you willing to join me on the festival seating side of Wolves fandom, remember not to lose sight of this little piece of information. The Wolves beat one of the teams they are chasing to secure that playoff ticket. This is what the Wolves must do to get in. No more losses to also rans, down on their luck or for that matter, any other teams. You see, as it stands at 34-32 Minnesota trails the Mavs and Memphis by 5 1/2 games. If they want the playoffs, leapfrogging will be needed.

I like six wins in nine games. But the Wolves aren’t there yet. At times they played like a playoff team in Dallas. But you can’t build and then lose a 22-point lead in the first half AND a 13-point lead with 7-minutes left in the game.

Six wins in nine games. You have to beat the Sacramento’s, the Lakers and yes, when the high rolling ClipShow comes calling, you must remind them Not In Our House!

I’m also in a spring break kind of mood so I’m not going back thru all of my notes to find the pathetic who gave up on Ricky Rubio and need to be reminded that I didn’t and defended him. Take a nibble on these numbers with me if you don’t mind.

Rubio was huge in Big D. No. 9 had 7 assists at the end of the first quarter and finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds, 15 assists and four steals to secure his third triple-double. Make no mistake, the stud against the Mavs was Kevin Love and his OT game-winning dagger (35 points and 8-rebounds is always sweet too) but the man was the little man, Rubio.

This is a point guard harpooned by paid-by-the-word, must incite the worst fear in fans gabfests but the kid can play. Find a way to ask his teammates. I have. They love him. Rubio is a player folks. The Wolves would like turnovers trimmed. OK. The Wolves would certainly like his shooting percentage to rise. Check. But in terms of heart, in terms of passion and in terms of skill, go find another player to pluck your barbs.

Where are all those folks who bang on Rubio after this little run? Certainly, this season is not over and yes, the Wolves are going to have it tough to get there but give ‘em a break. They are playing with urgency. Gotta’ do that, yes?!

It’s way too easy to be negative. As Rubio told the media after the game in Dallas, "It was a big game against a tough team who is fighting for the playoffs, too and we want to try to catch up to them." Cut ‘em some slack.

Dallas lost a playoff game to the Wolves tonight. A Mavs team loaded with Dirk Nowitzki, sweet stroking’ Monta Ellis and a Mavs team riding a three-game winning streak, 14 games above .500 and 22-11 at home. This was not a “gimme.”

I love it when J.J. Barea goes back to Dallas. He lights it up. He won his NBA Championship ring with the Mavs when they beat the Heat a few years ago and he reminds Mavs owner Mark Cuban about it all the time. JJ with 15, all five Wolves starters scored in double figures with Kevin Martin nailing 19, Corey Brewer with 13 points (11 in the first quarter) and Gorgui Dieng with 10 points/11 boards.

Sixteen games remain. Work and luck have to come together as the Wolves sit on the outside looking in by just under six games. But as I’ve said repeatedly (and will gladly say again with the win in Dallas), I’m not ready to count ‘em out and I won’t.

Oh, and before I go, I said I wasn’t going to throw any fans under the bus for pestering and complaining about Rubio all season. I lied. Last week, GameON! TV viewer Scott wrote me saying, “Why can’t you just see that this team is NOT very good. Rubio is worthless, Love wants out and the others would play minor roles with other teams.” I responded, I couldn’t disagree more. Ricky Rubio’s game has stepped up, Shabazz Muhammad is now off the bench and getting PT and while the bench’s inconsistency has been noticeable, it won’t last. So Scott, thanks for writing but with the end of winter, step out of that negative box and enjoy the ride.

I feel better now. Actually, I’ve felt good all week since I’ve missed the cold and snow. I’ll be back soon enough but for now, remember, this run for the playoffs is do-able. 66 games played (34-32) and 16 left. EVERY night just make it happen! Four weeks to the finish line and it is do-able!

So, let the Zen move into Manhattan. Enjoy the Madness that consumes March and let’s cheer for the Sixers and hope they avoid that nasty losing streak (that’s what I’m giving up for Lent, negativity). Keep up your hope. Go Wolves! And remember, it’s always time to keep your GameON!

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As we have for years, we talk Wolves. Every day. High’s & lows. We’re there because we are fans, just like you! Keep your GameON! See you soon!

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