Oh What a Series!

While not Timberwolves related – the Western Conference finals was epic. There is a slew of information and analysis on it so will not bore you with that, but just wanted to walk through how crazy of a series this was between the Thunder and Warriors.

It is no secret I was personally cheering for the Thunder. The Thunder have been a favorite for a while. I have always appreciated Kevin Durant and his humbleness. I even had the chance to meet him and sit down and chat with him. He was the most down-to-earth athlete I ever met. Russell Westbrook is a freak and a joy to watch. Serge Ibaka is a guy I would love to play for the Wolves, especially if we can trade the 5th pick for him (dreaming). Randy Foye was one of my all-time favorite Timberwolves. I always felt Steven Adams would be an amazing center in the league. Heck, I was one of the few that had hope Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones would become great NBA players. So I’ve been following for a while.

The Warriors have always been a team that you have to watch. They are history in the making. As an avid basketball fan, they are impossible to ignore, even hate. But what I dislike is how much they brag. They is no need to showoff after every made bucket, unless you’re Mo Speights hitting a three in Game 7 in the Western Conference finals. What I do respect is how they’ve played with all the pressure on them. They have played the second half of the season as their biggest opponent. They even dropped a game to the Timberwolves as home.  To see how they’ve reacted to the pressure of winning 73 games and having the first unanimous MVP has been so fun to watch. Nothing but appreciation for this team.

Jumping to the series, it was like a classic fictional tale about what the NBA could be. Or a Hollywood film directed by Michael Bay. This series was literally a roller coaster. Quick summaries below. Home team is the second team listed each time.

Game 1: Thunder 108, Warriors 102

The Thunder steal game 1! The Warriors lose a game at home, many believed because they finally faced a worthy opponent. It should’ve been the wake up call the Warriors needed. The Thunder were still not a serious threat. But Russell Westbrook and Durant played amazingly. Westbrook racked up 7 steals along with 27 points and 12 assists. KD added 26 points himself with 10 boards. Curry shot terribly with 9/22 from the field for 26 points. That won’t happen every game.

Game 2: Thunder 91, Warriors 118

This is what we expected for most of the series. Stephen Curry with a casual 28 points on 15 shots. How anyone does that is news to me. Not the closest of games so a fairly spread box score. Series is tied 1-1. The Warriors woke up finally. This should go 6 for the Warriors right?

Game 3: Warriors 105, Thunder 133

In Oklahoma where the Thunder dominate. It wasn’t close. The Thunder dominated in the second quarter and it was both offensively and defensively. The Thunder were never very adequate defensively but somehow they emerged with the Mega-death lineup that had Ibaka at the 5 and Durant at the 4. Durant was a defensive juggernaut using his length to slow down the Warriors’ guards. He had 33 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Russell Westbrook added 30 himself with 12 assists. The Warriors got nothing outside of Thompson and Curry. Even then, the splash brothers combined for 5 total threes. Not their best game. Somehow the Thunder are up 2-1. The next game is pivotal.

Game 4: Warriors 94, Thunder 118

Where the drama begins. The Thunder just have an amazing team effort. Roberson scored a career-high 17 points with 12 rebounds and 5 steals. Ibaka had 17 points as well. To add insult to injury, Westbrook chimed in with a casual triple-double with 36 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. The Thunder’s team defense began to look like one of the best in the league. It was a complete team effort for the Thunder that game them a comfortable lead in the series of 3-1. The Warriors for the first time in two years would face elimination in the playoffs. It seemed that the show was over.

Game 5: Thunder 111, Warriors 120

‘We ain’t going home’ from Steph Curry. The Warriors facing elimination at home. If there was a game that the Warriors should win it was this one. It was close but the Thunder were never able to catch up. The Warriors withstood 40 points from Durant and 31 from Westbrook. The Thunder went for the kill to not avail. Steph had 31 and Thompson added 27. The difference was the rest of the Warriors who came to play. The series would be 3-2 and go back to OKC.

Game 6: Warriors 108, Thunder 101

This was a game! The Thunder were up a good amount of the game. It came down to the last two minutes where the Warriors just took the lead and snuck out. It almost felt certain that the Thunder had this one in the bag. But Klay Thompson set an NBA Playoffs single-game record for threes made with 11. He had a huge 41 points ahead of Curry’s 31. This game was the turning point. With the series at 3-3, Game 7 would be one for the ages.

Game 7: Thunder 88, Warriors 96

A historic game 7. The Warriors became the 10th team to come back from being down 1-3 in the playoffs, which seemed like a cherry on top for what they’ve accomplished this season. The Thunder played a great 1st half holding the Warriors to their 2nd lowest point total of the season. But the second half the unanimous MVP stepped up and stole the show The Thunder didn’t have an answer for him. While the Thunder came back to within 4 points in the final quarter, they just seemed to give up. Roberson gave up a wide open three pointer and then they seemed to quick in the final minute of the game. It was incredible to see Curry score his 36 points in a multitude of ways. The Warriors are headed to the finals to defend their championship.

At some point this summer when baseball is all that is happening, there is a good chance I rewatching this entire series back-to-back. It was that good. The Warriors earned their stripes. And now all the speculation begins around where Kevin Durant may land this summer…

 

The Thunder probably did the Warriors a favor. They woke the giant that the Warriors were went they went on their historic run earlier in the season. The Warriors were coasting late in the season chasing the 72-win record, which I repeatedly said would be a huge mistake. That mistake may’ve costed them the season had they lost in game 5, 6, or 7. But somehow they held on and added to an even more dramatic and historic run.

The finals will be a lot of fun to watch. A healthy Cavs team with a hungry Lebron James get a second shot at a title against the Warriors. LBJ has been quietly making history by going to the finals 6 straight seasons. It will be interesting to see how Kevin Love matches up in this series. Not because he is the man we love to hate in Minnesota but because he will be the easiest of the big three to eliminate from being relevant on the floor due to his defensive woes.

See you all in the finals!

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BREAKING: The Wolves Just Beat The Warriors in OT

This feels like a stereotypical April fools joke. But it’s April 7th or something and I have finals. Regardless, the Minnesota Timberwolves just beat the Golden State Warriors in Overtime 124-117 in Oakland to prevent the Warriors from winning their 70th game of the season. Now, the Warriors have to win every game for the rest of the season to break the Bulls record. 

  
The Warriors were undefeated at home before they lost to the Celtics on Friday. So what happened

First off, the game wouldn’t have been possible without 35 points from Shabazz who scored early and often. A career high. He was the answer off the bench. Much needed. 

Then there was Wiggins’ spin move which always triggers a ‘Like Sprewells, they spinnin!’ in my head. Wiggins showed up in the second half and in overtime to finish with 32 points and 6 steals. Wiggins was hustling and put it all out on the floor. Wiggins has come a long way from those James Posey comparisons. 

  
Then there was KAT. The 5-consecutive Western Conference Rookie of the Month had yet again another double-double. Towns made some key plays down the stretch. Even one that got wiped off by a bizarre reverse of a charge. Casual 20 points, 12 rebound and 2 block night. 

LaVine also turned it on late. 

Anyways it’s late. I’m tired and not prepared for my finals. It’s worth it though. Good job young pups. Huge win. 

Wolves All-Time (Missed) Draft Picks Team

In Light of the recent 2009 Draft T-shirt (as seen below) that appeared at Tuesday’s game against the Spurs, we decided to publish the Wolves All-Time Missed Draft Picks Team.

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via BleacherReport

If you are a Wolves fan, you probably look back at every draft and think ‘We could’ve drafted X instead of Y’. Its natural. All decisions are inherently easier in retrospect because, well the choices have played themselves out in which you can see the final product. I am sure there are reasons why we picked the player we picked over the player that would get drafted later. Its life. The point of this isn’t really to prove ‘what could’ve been’ but really just to have fun with it. The draft is essentially a crap shoot and no one really can tell who will be a star and who will be a bust.

The reason this is so interesting to look at for the Wolves is because the Wolves have the longest active streak without a playoff birth. It is now going to be 12 seasons in which the Wolves haven’t made the playoffs. Thats A LOT of lottery picks. Fortunately, the Wolves finally scored a number one pick in Karl-Anthony Towns and acquired a couple the summer before in Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett.

So, we will pick a player that could’ve been draft at each position. A player that could’ve been a Timberwolves, but the Wolves went in a different, usually wrong, direction. Rules are the player needs to have been picked after the Wolves pick and only one player per draft. I try to make it a similar position so it is realistic, but in the event that it isn’t, it needs to be a viable option for the Wolves at the time. So without further ado, I present to you, the Wolves All-Time Missed Draft Pick Team:

PG – Stephen Curry (2009 Draft. Wolves Drafted Johnny Flynn 6th overall)

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KAAHHHHNN! Ah, the one that hurts the most. Thank you David Kahn. Its good to tear the band-aid off quick here because none of them hurt as much as this one. The Wolves shockingly picked two true point guards back to back in Ricky Rubio and Johnny Flynn. Curry was taken 7th right after. It didn’t make any sense 7 years ago and doesn’t make sense now. Steph Curry would lead the Warriors to a championship and win MVP last season. He is the best player in the league today and breaking every 3-point shooting record possible. And Johnny Flynn has been out of the league for a couple years now. Demar DeRozan and 7 other more capable points than Flynn were also available. The T-shirt that appeared at the Wolves game was a wonderful reminder of this disaster. Of course Curry never worked out for the Wolves which indicated he didn’t want to play here. This one will always hurt.

SG- Kobe Bryant (1996 Draft. Wolves Drafted Ray Allen 5th overall)

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This one isn’t fair. We drafted Ray Allen then traded for Stephon Marbury. Which isn’t bad at all. You couldn’t predict Marbury wanting out. Kobe and KG could’ve been beautiful together. But many teams didn’t take a chance on Kobe and it seemed like  Kobe was headed to the Lakers in some way, shape, or form. But out of respect to Kobe, we technically did pass on him. So he makes the team.

SF – Kawhi Leonard (2011 Draft. Wolves Draft Derrick Williams 2nd overall)

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Derrick Williams was a clear 2nd best talent in the 2011 draft after the Wolves had gotten jumped in the lottery by the Cavaliers out of nowhere to take Kyrie Irving. But Kawhi Leonard is an absolute stud now after winning Finals MVP and a championship with the Spurs. Its always hard to tell if Leonard would’ve developed into the player he is today if it wasn’t for the Spurs Organization. But if you want a consolation prize, there were many other good players in this draft that went later. Klay Thompson and later on Jimmy Butler were all taken to name a couple. Derrick himself seemed to be his own biggest hurdle. He was stuck between a 3 and 4, couldn’t defend either, and never could solidify himself in the league.

PF- Shawn Marion (1999 Draft. Wolves Drafted Wally Szczerbiak 6th overall)

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Tough one here. Wally was absolutely a solid player in his time in Minnesota as he made the All Star game once. But the Matrix was among the top players in the league for a while. Marion was versatile enough to play the 3 and 4 and did so much on the court, namely play defense. There was always a lot of speculation as to how far the Wolves could’ve gone with KG and Marion on the same team, especially during the 03-04 season. Marion could’ve easily played in the role of Trenton Hassell alongside Garnett, Sprewell, and Cassell. The main reason Wally didn’t start that season was due to injury, which plagued his career and is unforeseeable, and being a liability on the defensive end. Could the Wolves have won a championship with the Matrix on that team? We will never know. The second option here would’ve been the Wolves draft Donyell Marshal over Juwan Howard.

C- DeMarcus Cousins (2010 Draft. Wolves Drafted Wesley Johnson 4th overall)

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Paul George would be the other option. But Cousins was absolutely an option at pick 4. The Wolves needed a center as Darko was the starter and Al Jefferson was on his way out. Cousins has put up monster stats and is probably the best center in the league today. Wes Johnson was an absolute bust. This should be an easy one to agree with.

 

Do you agree with who made the Wolves All-Time Missed Draft Picks Team? Let us know!