For now, the Minnesota Timberwolves are hanging in there. Ricky Rubio isn’t where they thought he’d be, a couple of weeks into his comeback, but the team has more, and especially Kevin Love, to keep their heads above water, despite everything not exactly going to plan this season.
It was Love, with another double double (23 points and 18 rebounds) who led a massive frontline effort by the Timberwolves, joined by Nikola Pekovic with 28 points and 11 boards and Andrei Kirilenko with 20 points to overcome the Phoenix Suns, who suffered from a terrible shooting day (2-17 from beyond the arc) that might have ruined their shot, despite scoring 107 points against one of the stingiest defenses in the NBA.
First there was the news of Rubio not beginning the season, but they knew that already. Then there was Kevin Love with an injury that took him out for the first six weeks of the season, although the Timberwolves hung in there, mostly thanks to Kirilenko and the great job he did on defense. Than Kirilenko got injured, which halted the impressive start. The project of rebuilding Brandon Roy didn’t really succeed. In the midst of all that were also the allegations that the Timberwolves were too white of a team. Not something that was taken too seriously, but it’s another negative about a season that should have been some sort of breakout year.
So far, they’re 14-13, going through the motions. Their guards are combo guards. Alexey Shved is the talented one, finishing with 12 points and 10 assists. Luke Ridnour is just there on the court, but it always feels like you could put in quite a few other bench players around the NBA and they would be doing the same job, giving the same kind of production, not to mention the two’s terrible defense. J.J. Barea off the bench does bring a lot of energy into the game, but once again, no one is Rubio.
And what about the Spanish sensation? The comeback began two weeks ago, in which he’s had five games. In two of them he was held scoreless, and has averaged 4.2 points and 4 assists. He was out against the Suns with back spasms. The Minnesota Timberwolves need him, next to Shved probably, in order to start becoming a consistent and more importantly smarter basketball team. Shved, like Barea, creates a lot of havoc, which works well against teams like the Suns. Against better defense units, it’s not that effective.
For now, the big guys are doing most of the work. They scored 58 points in the paint, but only 3 on fast breaks. Once again, not having someone who knows how to play the floor general hurts the Timberwolves, regardless if they won. In the long run, having guards that don’t know how to do that until Ricky Rubio is 100% again, can be quite damaging.
Some days it feels good and some days it’s not so good. Hopefully the new year will bring good things for me and this team.
Then there’s Kevin Love’s mood. Frustrated with his shooting form since coming back from injury, effecting other parts of his game as well. Frustrated about how he was treated by management. He seemed like he put it behind him against the Suns, turning over something of a new leaf. That chapter will be some much better if Rubio will be back soon enough at full capacity.