The Back Story (The Clippers lead this year's season series 1-0):
|Clippers 127-Timberwolves 101
The Big Picture:
The Clippers are dealing with the loss of Blake Griffin rather well, mostly due to Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan stepping up. They were fortunate yesterday in that the Bulls were short handed with Rose out and Jimmy Butler getting injured during the game, but played well nonetheless in the win. Every game they are able to win without Blake is crucial in the tight Western Conference. The Clippers are closing in on the 4th spot in the playoff seeding as they are just half a game behind the Trailblazers.
The Antagonist: The Timberwolves are 5-5 in their last 10 games against some tough opponents, and are playing pretty well. Ricky Rubio is back and cooler than ever, whipping crazy passes all around the court and playing fantastic defense. He is one of the most fun players to watch in the entire NBA, though his shooting deficiencies are a glaring weakness. Andrew Wiggins is almost living up to the hype out of high school, putting up big scoring numbers somewhat efficiently and doing little things on the court. He and Rubio are the future in Minnesota, but veterans Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin are still very solid players, and Martin in particular can light up the scoreboard if close tabs aren't kept on him. Kevin Garnett just returned to Minnesota at the trade deadline, and while his on court value is nowhere near where it once was, his very presence is worth a lot to this young team.
- Comparison of key metrics. The Timberwolves are the worst team in the NBA defensively, somehow worsting the Knicks and 76ers. This makes sense, as their only above average defenders are Rubio and Garnett, and neither has played many minutes or games for the Wolves this season. Their offense is nothing to write home about either, with Martin the only consistent offensive threat. The Clippers are far above the Wolves in both metrics, and while the Timberwolves are now better than their season statistics suggest, they are still not a good team.
- The schedule. The Clippers are on the 2nd night of a road back to back, which is never fun, but because yesterday's game was an afternoon matinee, the schedule is a little bit more bearable. The Timberwolves blew a tight game to the Grizzlies on Saturday night, but should be relatively fresh for this one.
- DeAndre Jordan's Rebounding Prowess- DJ had 26 rebounds yesterday, giving him the top two rebounding performances of the entire season, the other being a 27 board game. His 17 grabs in the 1st half was also an NBA season record, and he continues to lead the association in rebounds per game.
- Chris Paul- CP3 continues to plug along putting up incredible statistics that everyone takes for granted,putting up 19 points and 11.5 assists on 47% shooting with just 2.3 turnovers per game in the month of February. Crazy.
- Contrasting Trade Deadlines- The Clippers made no moves at the deadline, having made their only trade a month or so earlier when they acquired Austin Rivers. The Timberwolves, on the other hand, shipped out Mo Williams to Charlotte (where he is playing terrifically) for Gary Neal, acquired Adreian Payne from the Hawks for a future 1st, and sent Thad Young to the Nets for Kevin Garnett. They did notably hold onto both Martin and Pekovic, but both will probably be on the trade market this summer.
- Andrew Wiggins- The Canadian who played at Kansas for one season is going to win Rookie of the Year, averaging almost 16 points a game on 44/35/74 splits with solid peripherals. He is both extremely talented and exciting, and will be in the All Star discussion in a year or two in all likelihood. The sky is the limit for young Andrew (he is younger than me, which is scary), though his handles and defense still need work.
- Zach Lavine- Sadly, Wiggins' counterpart, Zach LaVine, has been decidedly less promising, incredible Dunk Contest aside. His statistics don' t look too bad on face value outside of his poor three point shooting (28% on 73 attempts), but his RPM is at a -7.83, by far the lowest in the NBA, and the eye test bears that out. His defense is terrible and his playmaking instincts are poor. He will have to be a SG to make it in the NBA, but he needs to bulk up substantially and work on his outside shooting to have a chance. He just seems to have poor Basketball IQ, but his athleticism is truly outstanding, and if he puts it all together, he could be something special.
- Connections. Spencer Hawes played with Anthony Bennett after he was traded to the Cavaliers last season. Kevin Garnett played with Doc Rivers for 6 years in Boston and won a championship together in 2008. He also played with Glen Davis for a few seasons for the Celtics. Hawes and Kevin Martin played on the Kings together in 2007 and 2008. Clippers assistant coach Sam Cassell was on the Timberwolves in the early 2000s, where he played with Garnett.
- Wikipedia entry: Timber Wolf is a roller coaster ride at Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, Missouri. It was opened in 1989 and was the park's first wooden roller coaster. When first implemented, it was considered one of the best roller coasters in the world, but despite renovations is no longer held in quite the same esteem.