The 2013-2014 Minnesota Timberwolves season started with great expectations. Celebrating 25 years of NBA Timberwolves basketball for the most part has been a quarter of a century of mediocrity, consistent frustration, disappointment, and unfulfilled excitement.
Starting this season, the Timberwolves have missed the playoffs nine years in a row. New Vice President-Part Owner Flip Saunders replaced David Kahn. Saunders, the all-time winningest coach in franchise history, promised a culture change from top to bottom throughout the organization.
The team is literally limping into the All-Star break with stars Nikola Pekovic, Kevin Martin, and All-Star starter Kevin Love all having missed games of late. The team is 24-28 and has lost four in a
row. In the deep Western Conference, that puts the Timberwolves behind the eight ball some six games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference.
The good news is that they have a long way to go with 30 games left, which means they obviously have time to recover and close the gap and reach the playoffs. Love has had a great season so far, averaging 25.6 points per game and 13.3 rebounds. He’s currently fourth in the league in scoring and second in rebounding. Shooting guard Kevin Martin is averaging 19.0 per game and Pekovic is averaging 18.0 points and 9.1 rebounds.
The team is marketing Love and Pekovic as the Bruise Brothers.
The biggest and most glaring issue with this team is that they don’t consistently play together as a team on both ends of the floor. They score with the best teams in the league. However on the defensive end they don’t unite together and back each other up. Defense is heart, body and soul, and until these guys understand that they will continue to have us shaking our heads.
Head Coach Rick Adelman is in his third season with his fifth team; he’s the eighth winningest coach in NBA history with 1,026 career wins. Last year he won 31 games, and this year’s team will improve on that. However, his teams lack the defensive commitment required to punch a playoff spot in the West.
Three teams so far — Dallas, Phoenix and Portland — all missed the playoffs last year but right now are in. And have passed the Timberwolves.
If the Timberwolves miss the playoffs for 10th year in a row, I believe Saunders will likely be headed back to coach this talented group with All-Star Love and establish a defensive presence that characterized his teams back in the day.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.
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