The Walking Dead: Timberwolves

Right now the Minnesota Timberwolves are living in a bad dream and possibly a nightmare.  It's like one of those dreams where it feels like you are falling into the a deep black hole and not going to survive as you are sucked into the depths of outer space. Sure enough, right before it feels like you are going to die, you snap into it and wake up all startled, yet you are alive and still going strong.

That's what this Wolves squad is doing, only the nightmare is happening right in front of us. It seems every game someone is getting injured and right when it looks like they are screwed beyond belief, the Wolves escape with a victory.

Tonight's nightmare took place in the 3rd quarter versus Dallas when Nikola Pekovic departed and did not return due to a sprained ankle. This marked the FOURTH STRAIGHT GAME that a key Wolves player has been injured during the game.

  • Monday night–Pekovic, sprained ankle
  • 11/10- Chase Budinger left with a torn meniscus
  • 11/9-  Brandon Roy left with a right knee injury
  • 11/7-  JJ Barea left the game with a foot injury

You really can't make this stuff up. These new injuries are on top of Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love being out until sometime in December. 

Somehow, with SIX of their best players hurt, the Wolves beat the Dirk-less Mavs in Dallas on Monday night by the score of 90-82 to improve to 5-2 on the year.  I'm not sure if Coach of the Year can be chosen only SEVEN games in, but how in God's green earth does Rick Adelman not get the award if this group of the walking dead makes the playoffs this year?

ADELMAN HAD TO START MALCOLM LEE ON MONDAY!

Most knowledgeable Wolves fans know that even as this season began, from a talent standpoint, that Lee was likely player #14 on the 15 person roster. Yet here is Malcolm Lee, in the seventh game of the year, on the road, in the starting lineup!!! And the Wolves won!

Different Wolves have stepped up and performed when given the chance but who really saw Alexey Shved be able to do what he has done in his short career?  The knock on Shved is that he is "Olive Oil" skinny and that the physicality of the NBA would be too much for his slender build.  In this short welcome party to the NBA, he has survived the contact and Shved has produced like we could've only hoped that he would produce.  In Dallas on Monday, Shved played 33 minutes, scored 16 points, had 5 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 blocks, only 2 turnovers and also a partridge in a pear tree.

If you remove Shved's NBA debut, his averages over the past SIX games look like:

  • 9.8 points, 4.8 assists, 3.7 rebounds,  .8 blocks, 1.3 turnovers and he is shooting 82% on free throws by going 18/22. He is only playing 22.8 minutes a game in that span

It's the glue guys who have molded into what has somehow become a very dependable Wolves squad.  If you thought Dante Cunningham and Alexey Shved would be key parts in a 5-2 squad you could've won a decent number of "friendly" wagers.

The common glue in all of this is Rick Adelman.  He is in the upper echelon of NBA coaches and he is the Wolves coach.  Credit has to be given to Glen Taylor and David Khan for spending money on a legit coach and getting him to come to a young team with a changing roster. People call the NBA a "Player's League" and to an extent it is, but in order to be a key factor, a great coach is usually involved. 

Case in point, look at the mess with the LA Lakers right now. Mike Brown is an alright coach but he was never considered "elite" and LA acted on it by firing him only FIVE games into his 2nd season with the Lakers. 

Adelman has installed his offense and has the team ranked 5th in the NBA in points allowed by giving up just 89.5 points per game. They are overachieving each night and the players are staying the course and getting results.

This remaining group of Wolves players have an important two game home stand on Wednesday and Friday when they get the little sisters of the poor aka the Charlotte Bobcats and then the Golden State Warriors. After Friday night's game the Wolves will have off until the next Wednesday which should allow some healing to take place/or at least not enable players to get injured. We could be looking at the Wolves with a 7-2 record, yet not ever having anything resembling close to a full roster.

Hopefully this injury plagued nightmare ends, the squad gets healthy and a playoff berth follows.

 

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