Hey everybody (by that, I mean Sean an Josh, I doubt many other people read this) I have moved. I am now hosted on the best site in the galaxy (patent pending) JoshCom Come check it out
WIKIWIKI WILD WILD WEST
No, that wasn't a reference to last years blogs and wikis class, or a shout out to the Robert-Horry-Lookalike winner, Will Smith. Nope. The Western conference has been getting some serious heat from the East, and things are going to get wild. Not only are some reporters saying the East Can challenge, some are going so far as to call the Western teams out. Damned cub reporters.
Seriously guys, who in the East can stand up to the western powerhouses? Detroit can play good D, that's true. Can they play it for seven games, and score enough to make it worth anything? What about Indiana? Seems like they are more balanced, with Ron Artest anchoring the D and Jermaine O'Neal powering the paint. Oh yeah, and Reggie can still hit a three, I hear. Oh, wait, O'Neal is beat up with injury, reggie is older than bell bottoms, and Artest thinks he can score, too.
Meanwhile, the west has four legitimate title contenders. The Kings, Spurs, Lakers and TImberwolves all have what it takes to win: a balanced attack and a few really good scorers. You will notice I left the Mavs out. The only thing balanced in Dallas is Mark Cuban's tuppee. Maybe it's a combover, and he just let it grow really long.
TimberWolves Big Week
Tonight's game is against San Antonio. They lead the season series 2-1, and trail for first by only 2 games. That makes this the game of the week. If we win, we go up three with 11 left, even the series, and start a hell week on a good note. If we lose, well, that sucks. Seriously, at home, in a big game, I think we will pull it off. Look for Spree to have a big second half, as Bowen will draw off him after a poor first half performance. Also, Duncan will win the head to head if we win the game. When KG gets dominated by Duncan for three quarters, he throws together some late night magic and wins the game for us.
Then Denver again. Should be a 4-0 year for us, but we are playing a Mile up. I think we have their number by now, going 3-0 thusfar, but stranger things can happen. Melo has had the heat on him, so look for him to try and control the game. With Hassel on him, though, that becomes tough, and we can win the game. Lenard will have a big night behind the arc, though. Closer game then last time, to be sure.
Next comes LA. Usually I would be worried about this matchup. But the way the Lakers have been playing it close against poor teams, all we need to do is come out of the lockerroom (both times) scoring, and we can put them away. Kobe is still hurt, but he should have a good night. Hassel is our guy, but Kobe is a bit too fast for him. Shaq has been on a tear as of late, but we have a committee to throw at him that should work. I like hack-a-Shaq, it works.
We end the week with the Clippers. This one does scare me. These guys have a knack for playing well against us. They have inside out scorers, and Elton brand is a big enough body to clog up the lane. If we win, it will be because Sam cassell keeps the mid range game open, which will free up KG in the post, as Brand comes out on the show.
There you have it, we could very well go 4-0 this week, but I see it more of a 3-1 week. Still, just what the doctor ordered down the stretch.
Last but not Least Nice to see Kandi taking to his roll off the bench. The guy just isn't in shape, as a knee surgery will do, and Flip had to make a tough decision. Also, it doesn't seem odd to me that our little win streak coincides with Hudson being on the bench. We may want his scoring, but we need Cassell out their being a floor general. He dictates the pace of both teams, something Hudson cannot do, and can play grind it out B Ball.
Sunday, March 21, 2004
But don't take my word for it. Here's what the Startribune had to say about it:
"Szczerbiak came off the bench -- and missed his first three shots. But coach Flip Saunders stuck with him, and Szczerbiak found a rhythm, hitting eight of his final 10 shots. Szczerbiak helped the Wolves make the Suns pay for doubling on Kevin Garnett in the post by going 4-for-5 from three-point range on the way to 24 points.
Call it a coming-out party. Or, better yet, a coming-back party."
The Trib would have you believe it is because of all the extra time practicing his shot. That's one theory. Pioneer Press has another one:
"I (told him) slow down a little bit," Garnett said. "Take the shots that are there. Sometimes I feel like he turns down some easier shots for some more difficult shots. That's not him. He's a flow guy. The ball's there, he has a shot and he takes it."
Turns out it was Garnett's kind words. I don't know if I would have bought that either, until today:
In today's game, Garnett passed the ball to Wally, who decided to dribble (with his head down, as always) instead of the catch and shoot we have come to expect from him. He dribbled right into traffic, and missed the shot. KG was overheard on the TV saying, "Shit dogg, shoot it." Wally nodded him off, but didn't put the ball on the floor for the rest of the game. The result? 6-14 for 18 points(two threes), 5 boards and 4 assists. Probably one of the best performaces from World this year. Just listen to the big fella!
As an added bonus, the T-wolves won 98-77 over the Nuggets, to go two games up over San Antonio, and just 2 1/2 behind Sacto for the lead in the West. That makes it two in a row for Minnesota, and yes, we call that a streak.
In Other News You have to like what the Vikings are doing in the free agent market. The addition of Marcus Robinson and Jermaine Wiggins on offense will take some of the pressure off Moss, and perhaps develop the much-needed second threat. I really like Robinson's size and ability, and with Moss taking the defense wherever he goes on the field, Marcus should find a lot of opportunities. Wiggins has proven he can be a big play guy, and gives us a tough blocking TE.
On defense, Winfield and Carter add volumes to our pass coverage, Steve Martin give us some veteran leadership and depth. And now we have added Punter Darren Bennett, who may be older than usual, but had an outstanding year last year, pinning the ball inside the twenty on 28 of his 82 punts, and averaging over 40 yards per punt over his 9 year carreer. We all know what a good punter can do for a team, especially one fond of filed position games, like the Vikings have been known to be, from time to time.
Tid-Bits At some point philly has to wonder if Iverson is worth the trouble. They would take a bath in attendence AND market price to trade him, but refusing to come off the bench is bush league at best. The EAst is bringing real talent this year into the playoffs, and we could actually see a 7 game series for the finals. Indy and Detriot are both tough teams on both ends, and could really trouble Western running teams. The Twins are 11-7 during spring training so far: just .5 back in the Central race. Mark Cuban is more likable than he appears on TV. Check this post out.
Tuesday, March 16, 2004
Watch out, America! The Lakers are coming back, playing hard, and finishing strong (all the tired stuff we've heard from them before). They just moved up to #3, and are set, if the season ended today, to face the grizzlies. Incidentally, the Grizz own the season series with the Lakers, as well. In fact, Memphis seems to own just about all the west's power players, which makes some people nervy. Not me though: I think the Lakers would take them in a series, now that they have the fab four healthy again. It seems to me the lithe Stomile Swift matches up against Shaq as well as I do. 6-9 230 just won't cut it, big fella. If ZenPhil is smart enough to get it to the bigs, Lakers win this one easy.
In other news, the T Wolves dropped another one to Portland. They make us play poorly by defending the pick and roll (our bread and butter play) and running low post pressure at KG. It's not a tough formula, but it has worked for them this year. Luckily for us, Portland doesn't have a chance of getting into the playoffs. Savior your victories over us in May, guys.
Tid-Bits Kobe scored all but one of him almost 40 points in the second half; over 20 in the fourth. He is the kind of finisher the lakers need to win, so why all the talk about leaving. It's rare to see two such dominant players (Shaq and Kobe) Swallow the pride and learn to play together. Dynasty is a rare word, fellas. Scottie Pippen may be done. Let's hope he doesn't continue in Jordan's shadow, and stage a comeback. 6 rings is amazing, 17 years is astonishing. Hang it up and enjoy. Vin Baker has a new team, and a new lease on life. Let's hope this is the real deal: he is such a talent it is a shame to watch him waste himself.
Though I want as little of my life posted on here as possible, something too big not to share has come up: I am engaged to the most wonderful woman in the world. Like a child who could not wait to tell a secret, I proposed to her as soon as I had the ring in my hands. She said yes, and made me the happiest man in the world. All the basketball, all the sports, all my life, wouldn't mean anything without her.
Saturday, March 13, 2004
How The West Will Be Won
The Western Conference playoof schedule is starting to shape up, and it looks like The Timberwolves have, at least, a legitimate shot at winning the whole show. Here is how that would work:
Sacto Plays Denver
We Play Houston
Spurs Play Dallas
Lakers play Grizz
Sacramento is going to beat denver, let's not make bones about that. That team is just too deep for a team lead by a 19 year old to beat. I will go so far as to say the series will be won 4-1.
T Wolves will beat Rockets. I know they lead the season series 2-1 right now, but throw that all out. WE played them on the second of back to backs, on sunday, on every single occasion when we don't play well. Really, not from a fan perspective, we match up very well against them, and should win the series, especially since it is 7 game, we'll say 4-3 for the less optimistic.
Dallas is going to beat the spurs. You saw it here first folks. Dallas does what the Spurs hate: Run. Run Run Run. It's sad that no one else figured this out with regularity, but Dallas sure has. They will outscore the leagues best defense. 4-2 series.
The Lakers will beat the grizzlies, and no one will be suprised. We have all read the articles saying no one wants to play the GRizzlies, but that's a load of BS. Look at the other teams. Who would you rather be playing? Thought so. Pau is great, Hubie is remarkable, Jason number 3 of 50 is passable. It's not a good enough team to match up with the lakers, who are hitting the late season stride they are famous for. Pau will struggle when Shaq and Malone clog the lane. Kobe will be undefensed. It's silly to think anything but 4-2 or better.
That leaves these match-ups:
Dallas @ Minnesota
Los Angeles @ Sac Town
Unlike the spurs, the T Wolves play both ends very well. For every weapon Dallas can throw, we can throw one back. WE can also go the distance against a team that has kept us out of the second round for years. Dirk gives us trouble, but Twan' plays for every team that plays against dallas. Keep shooting those threes big fella, T Wolves win it in 7
LA can beat sacto, anytime they want. It's the sad fact of the NBA,a nd I wish it weren't true. I don't care about Brad playing well, Peja shootign the lights out, Webber being back. The Lakers have an answer for them, and always have. THe series goes 7 though, and Lakers win.
That leaves the big dance. Luckily, with both teams going 7, the factors almost even out. The difference? Kobe's shoulder. He won't take himself out of the game, so he will do what he did last night : throw it up and miss. And Hassel will make him do just that. Shaq-fu is who he is, and he will dominate. WE have the bodies to foul him though, and that's huge. Payton has shown he has too much of an attitude against a former teammate to take over a game. Sam is inside his head. Malone is good for one win, but not the extra one they need. T Wolves in 6.
There you have it, check back this summer to see how close we came.
Thursday, March 11, 2004
Exercise and Steady Diet
I have decided to start a sport themed blog as soon as the playoffs start in the NBA. Since NBA is, by far, the best league in all of sports, this makes sense. Also, I will write about Football and maybe baseball too, if anything fun happens. The site will go on Josh's site
In addition, and much like TMQ, I will probably add tidbits of other news, as well as some personal items (very, very few). Seriously, the last thing the blog world needs is one more personal blog. Not that a sports blog is too far behind. At any rate, it will give me a chance to rant about Minnesota sports programs, and someone will read it, I am sure.
With all that in mind, I have today's topic: Subtraction by Addition
Flip Saunders has a problem on his hands: he has too much talent. It's the same problem Donn Nelson has, except Flip didn't do it on purpose. In fact, up until recently, the problem was his bench was too shallow. Now, with the return of Kandi, Troy and World, there is an overabundance of talent, and worse, shooters. Doesn't sound like a problem, does it?
Well, up until two weeks ago three people scored about 70% of the points, and we had the best record of our franchise. Now? We have lost 5 of the last 10. Why? Flip hasn't shortened his rotation, that's why. Normally, by this time of the season, a coach is down to 8-10 guys, and is working on getting it to a strict 8. The problem for Flip is who goes and who stays. Hassel is a needed defensive stopper, troy is our three point shooter now, but Hoiberg still shoots over 60% from beyond the arc. Kandi gets spelled by Madsen, but Trent was playing so well. Can we play a small lineup and win? How about a big one? What happened to the O Zone? See?
As a result, we are going to drop a few games, and in a tight race, that's a tough spot to be in. We have two games coming up, Lakers then Portland again. Portland spanked us last night, 90-75. I suspect we will see a shorter rotation, with only Troy, World, and Mad Dog coming off the bench.
62: that's how many points T Mac threw down. He shot 20-37. He missed 9 free throws. In over a decade no one has hit 60 or more. Now think about Wilt: 100 points. It won't ever be touched. Ever. Drugs are a big problem in sports and the media today. Why, then, was Damon Stoudimire looked down upon for taking a random drug test to prove he is finally clean, in front of the media? The man is standing up and being held accountable, and they are worried about a collective bargaining aggreement? You don't have to look any farther than the NHL itself for who is to blame in the Bartuzzi incedent. Here is a sport that allows fist fights, and seems to encourage them. Many fans come just for the fights. Now, a guy hurts another, paralyzes him, and they want to get upset. He is wrong, but they allowed it to happen.