DC Council Opening Statements: Wizards vs Timberwolves, Game 41
Here to provide the DC Council Opening Statements for Washington’s 41st game of the season at home against the Minnesota Timberwolves are TAI’s Rashad Mobley (@rashad20) and guest Steve McPherson (@steventurous), who writes about the Timberwolves for two different ESPN TrueHoop blogs: Hardwood Paroxysm and A Wolf Among Wolves.
Wizards Starters (9-31):
AJ Price*, Bradley Beal, Martell Webster, Nene, Emeka Okafor
*At any moment, Coach Wittman should realize that John Wall has completed his Jedi training and is ready to conquer the NBA in the starting lineup with the rest of his friends. When this happens, AJ Price will prove to be a better-than-average backup point guard, and Wall and Beal will rule the galaxy. If this does not happen tonight and the Wizards lose, Coach Wittman may find himself in a bit of hot water.
Timberwolves Starters (17-22):
Ricky Rubio, Luke Ridenhour, Derrick Williams, Andrei Kirilenko, Greg Stiemsma
Q #1: What have you done for me lately?
(What’s the status of the Timberwolves over the past week?)
@steventurous: Oh boy. Well, I … oh boy. Are you familiar with the concept of a turducken? The Wolves, since assistant coach Terry Porter has stepped in to man the ship for Rick Adelman while he deals with some family matters, have been like a vial of bird flu rolled in anthrax wrapped in a car accident covered in a creamy airplane crash. They’re 2-7 over that stretch and it just appears they don’t have enough healthy bodies to put together four consecutive quarters that look like an NBA game. Injured stars mean role-players have to step up, which means inconsistency and a certain fuzziness to gameplanning, plus more minutes break those role-players down–which leads to 10-day contracts. To their credit, the team has shown resilience through all this, but eventually, they will fall apart unless some kind of stability and vision returns.
Q #2: Who threw out my alarm clock?
(Which player(s) are we sleeping on?)
@steventurous: I would say Alexey Shved, but he’s out for this game, so I have to go with Chris Johnson, the 10-day wonder. He has a PER of 29.6, a WS/48 of .380, and is averaging 21.5 points, 9 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per 36 minutes. That’s obviously a tremendously small sample size, but he’s playing like his life depends on it right now because basically, it does. With four days left on his 10-day contract, he has to cement his place on the team and it looks like he just might do it. Expect alley-oop dunks and a surprisingly competent jump shot with a nice high release, plus rim defense.
Q #3: What game-within-the-game counts most?
(What matchup between two players or between each team in a particular statistical category is most important.)
@steventurous: With the Wolves shooting a league-worst 29.2 percent from distance, they’ve had to rely on Pek’s dominance on the blocks … to … wait, Pek is out. So they’re outmatched down low, and they’ll have to rely on penetration from their … uh, Shved’s out, too? So basically the Wizards don’t have to guard anyone on the perimeter and can abuse the Wolves down low as well? Basically, defense is the key for the Wolves now and the thing to pay attention to. They beat the Rockets while shooting 21.4 percent from downtown, so if they can keep the final score in the vicinity of the low 90s, that will be their best chance. If the Wizards can make their shots, there’s little hope.
Q #4: How it’s going down?
(TAI’s general key to the game.)
@rashad20: The outcome of this game may be decided by the coach who decides to loosen the restrictions on their star player. In the 14 games since he returned from a torn ACL, Ricky Rubio has been on a 28-minute playing limit–something he was visibly annoyed by during the loss to the Brooklyn Nets. John Wall hasn’t necessarily been given a specific minutes limit, but he’s yet to play longer than 30 minutes (30:41 against the Clippers, to be exact), and in seven games, he still has not been inserted into the starting lineup. Coaches claim not to care about the hype and excitement that matchups like Wall/Rubio generate, but in this case, Coach Wittman and Coach Terry Porter have extra incentive to let their stars play. The Timberwolves are just 2-8 without Kevin Love, and the Wizards’ best player in the month of January–rookie Bradley Beal–is in the midst of a two game slump, which could easily end with Wall passing him the ball from the opening tip.
This game also serves as the first official trap game for the 9-31 Wizards. Kevin Love is injured, Rubio’s minutes are limited and Coach Rick Adelman is out due to family issues. JJ Barea, Andrei Kirilenko and even Derrick Williams present a unique set of challenges, but the Wizards’ roster is deeper and more talented, and they are playing at home. On paper (and on the computer screen) this game should resemble the Orlando game from January 15th, when the Wizards won handily, 120-91. But these are still the Wizards, so nothing is guaranteed.
The Wizards are favored by six points over the Timbewoves. The over/under is 187 points (via USA Today).
@steventurous: The teams play at a reasonably comparable pace, and their average points per game should favor the Wolves, but right now, the Wizards are welcoming back a solid John Wall while the Wolves are in free fall. 93-86 Wizards.
@rashad20: JJ Barea will get irrationally hot and drive the Wizards’ guards crazy, despite Bradley Beal’s 30 points. The Timberwolves pull off the “upset” and win 102-90.
KEVIN LOVE UPDATE
Kevin Love is currently out nursing a broken hand for the second time this season, and he’s tentatively scheduled to miss 6-8 weeks more weeks. This repeat injury clearly leaves Love with more free time than usual, because at 9:24 yesterday evening, he revealed via twitter, that he’s decided to read Jerry “The Logo” West’s book, “West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life”.
— Kevin Love (@kevinlove) January 24, 2013
Love’s reading material should be a relatively benign issue, considering he won’t be on the court until after the All-Star break. However, when you consider “The Logo” played for the Lakers, Love was born in Santa Monica and attended UCLA for a year, rumors of him being traded to the Lakers are in the blogosphere, and he’s been highly critical of the Timberwolves front office, it is a bit difficult to dismiss the notion of an ulterior motive. Love must have realized the volatile nature of his tweet, because five hours later, he was tweeting explanations that bordered on mea culpas:
For those Wolves fans concerned about my Jerry West book…my dad Stan played with and admired Jerry very much. I figured it to be a…
— Kevin Love (@kevinlove) January 25, 2013
…Great read in such a trying time for the team and myself. Please know I have nothing but good intentions! Now lets all get healthy!!!
— Kevin Love (@kevinlove) January 25, 2013
— Kevin Love (@kevinlove) January 25, 2013
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