San Antonio Spurs vs Minnesota Timberwolves
The AT&T Center
Jan. 13th, 6:00 PM Spurs Time
TV: FSN,FSSW - RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI
This preview is going to begin with a gripe about Yahoo Sports. Normally the website is rather enjoyable. Sure they write the odd story that makes one say “wow did I just waste 5 minutes of my life reading about Steve Nash throwing a towel?” However the website is minimalist in comparison to the assault on the eyes that is ESPN.com ( there is actually a “go" somewhere in that web address or so I am told) Anyways in Yahoo’s headline for the Memphis/Spurs game read “ Grizzlies look to gain ground on slumping Spurs.” Slumping?!? Have they actually watched a Spurs game? I will concede that Tim Duncan’s posture can be a bit droopy at times, but so would anyone’s posture if they were carrying the weight of an entire team on their shoulder for more than a decade. (As only the best leaders do, respect) However the rest of the Spur’s spinal alignment appears to be impeccably straight. Tony Parker almost never slumps, even when he is sitting at a press conference after a difficult game. And Tiago Splitter, that guy has such great posture it makes one wonder if he is in fact a robot. (A Tiagonator if you will.) They conveniently changed the headline to “Spurs look to get road mojo back in Memphis” once the score got close. (Let’s not mention what they said after the game, alright?) Anyways Yahoo needs to get their act together, this kind of Anti-Spurs language aimed only at their appearance and not on their level of play is discriminatory.(or "Spursist") This kind of thing can only depreciate the quality of their website. If only there was an adjective to describe a team that is showing a small regression during an otherwise solid start to the season. Well on to the next game.
The notebook I use for team research contains some strange words that normally do not make the final draft. For example in my notes for the Houston Rockets preview the word "synergy" kept on creeping up for some reason. However my notes on the Minnesota Timberwolves consist of basically one all too familiar word. Injury. Here are some experts of my notes: "Why is Dante Cunningham starting? Oh yeah cuz Kevin Love is injured." "Ricky Rubio hasn't regained his Catalan swag yet - must be still recovering from injury." "If JJ Barea wasn't injured this Thunder game would be a different story." " Did Canis Hoopus feature an entire post on the Blues because of their recent injuries?" "Who is Louis Admunson?"
And so on and so forth. Injuries have affected the Timberwolves in a bad way this year. This situation is likely going to get even worse with the recent reports that Kevin Love is out for 8 to 10 weeks after injuring his hand for the second time this season. There are some patches of silver lining on this really gloomy cloud for the Wolves. Alexey Shved’s seemingly seamless (see what I did there?) transition to the NBA, and Andrei Kirilenko’s resurrection, must be exciting for Timberfans. And this team is still somehow technically in the running for a playoff spot (and they play in the big bad West). But it didn't have to be this way. If Kevin Love and Rubio (not to mention JJ Barea, Malcolm Lee, Chase Budinger, and Brandon Roy) were playing in each game in top form the Wolves undoubtedly would be a lock for the playoffs. So right let the injury rant engage:
Injuries suck. They make the game of basketball fundamentally less interesting. I want so desperately to see a healthy Derrick Rose go toe-toe with Lebron "already wears a hat saying 2013 Eastern Conference Champions" James. D- Rose could be the kind of transcendent player that could serve as the anti-thesis to Miami’s "build a continual Eastern conference contender". Alright this is not about Rose but about the Timberwolves. You know who is on the Timberwolves? Brandon Roy. Sweet Jesus walk me down, what bad luck he has. Here is a player who had everything and then lost it because of injury. He was a near unanimous pick for rookie of the year, and then went on to be an all-star. But now his knees have had more surgery than Joan River's face and he is 28 years old. He is on the edge of retiring for the second time, and he is not even 30. Something about that is not right. So why do these injuries happen? You can blame it on the cruelty of sports in general or the fact that basketball is inherently a dangerous sport. You can blame on it the theory ( which is as scientifically valid as the theory that "Aliens made the pyramids") that tall people are more susceptible to injury. But all of that is secondary compared to the primary reason why so many NBA players, who work out more in a year than the average person will work out in a decade, get injured. NBA teams play too many games in a too short amount of a time. The blame falls on David Stern, the NBA and the owners. And even that is not the whole picture. Greed is the real reason behind these injuries. More games simply mean more money. And basketball is a safe enough sport to justify playing a million games in one season. One thousand games in one week? No problem! Do you know what most NBA players do these days after winning a game? Do they celebrate? Nah. Go for a relaxing stroll in one of the multiple cities they visit on a monthly basis? Forget about it. They talk to the media, take a shower, strap ice packs all over their body, hop on a bus or plane and go to where the next game is being played at. And OK they are being paid a lot of money, but it is logical to assume that most NBA players would take a pay deduction if it meant less games. For discussion purposes let’s say they play half of the games they play now. Would that really take away from the significance of the season? 41 games is more than enough games to determine who the best teams are. The English Premier League plays 38 games and that is arguably the most popular sports league in the world. And while this is totally in the realm of fuzzy math, it is logical that the amount of injuries sustained to players would also be decreased by 50%. As for the player’s money, let’s look at an "average" NBA salary. Nicola Pekovic’s salary currently makes 4,837,000 dollars a year. Is 2,416,500 dollars really that much worse, if it means that he has a 50% less chance of getting injured? 2 plus million dollars a year still seems like an obscene amount of money. Not to mention the money he can pull from staying in the league longer, putting up better stats, car commercials etc. It ultimately comes down to David Stern and his minions along with the owners. Would they be willing to take a substantial financial hit for basically no advantage for themselves? The answer is resoundingly no. The argument that they would be helping the star players so in effect helping the appeal of the league is bullshit. They don’t care about the safety of even the brightest of stars. Because let’s face it, for every franchise player, there are hundreds of players who would love to fill their shoes. And that is the ultimate dilemma. When Gregg Popovich got in that scuffle with David Stern, guess who was on Gregg’s side? Former players and coaches. Current players and coaches were speaking out more or less, but did so in hushed tones and innuendos in fear of getting sanctioned by Mr. Money pants. And make no mistake Coach Pop was protesting the greed fueled enterprise that the NBA has become. When capitalism trumps morality it is time to say something. And that is what CIA Pop did. Unfortunately other coaches don’t have the same invulnerable job security to pull a stunt like that, or else we would see more "DNP- F*** You David Stern". So one could say that Minnesota is an unlucky team that should be much higher up in the playoff picture. However what happened to them is not a matter of luck, it is a matter of being screwed by the schedule. The Spurs have so far been able to weather the cray cray storm that is the NBA season, and the Timberwolves somehow have been able to hold serve. I just wish that staying healthy in the league was not such an arduous task.
Right OK, so back to the currently active Timberwolves roster, which is definitely more than two players and a mascot. They are actually an impressive group of players even without their franchise star. Here is a quick rundown of their current roster (I bear no responsibility for what occurs 10 minutes prior to the game. If Kevin Garnett is traded to the Timberwolves right before tip-off that is so not my fault.)
Bona Fide Hustlers
Nikola is looking like a really good center. Timberfans have to be stoked about that.
A player that just got back from playing a year with CSKA Moscow is averaging 13 points and 7 boards this season.Crazy world.
Is Alexey a point guard or a shooting guard? Do Timberfans care? Is Timberfan a thing? It certainly should be.
Jose Juan Barea
JJ is proving to be an elite sixth man and/or starting guard. His back has been bothering him as of late, but he will likely be in the lineup tonight.
Men of Mystery
Which Rubio will play tonight? Will it be the Spectacular Spaniard or the Mediocre Mediterranean?
The Timberwolves are a scrappy team and a difficult out for anyone. Expect for this to be a fun game, with plenty of points to go around. The game against the Grizz really could have gone either way and is not a cause to press the panic button. The Spurs are an excellent team, and tonight is the kind of game where they remind Spurs fans just how good this team is. If the Timberwolves have a full roster against the Spurs, then this would be a horse of a different color. They don't have a full roster though, and I think we have talked about that enough. In the end the Spurs will make the plays that matter and get the victory.
The Timberwolve's perspective can be found here Canis Hoopus.
Game Prediction: Spurs by 9.
As always Tony must dominate Fisher, and NBA league pass is recommended for those who are willing to pony up the cash. Almost every Spurs game will be broadcast there, which is especially helpful for those of us who aren't in the San Antonio area. Please don't post links to illegal game feeds in the game thread. Links to illegal feeds are not permitted on SBNation, but you can probably find them out there on the internets if you're resourceful and desperate.