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Minnesota Timberwolves

Troubled Minnesota Timberwolves Struggling To Meet Expectations

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Tom Thibodeau

 

It may not seem like it, but it’s been more than 20 years since teenage phenoms Kevin Garnett and Stephon Marbury first warmed up a frigid Minneapolis winter with an entertaining brand of basketball that eventually led to the franchise’s first playoff appearances under the late Flip Saunders. And the Minnesota Timberwolves have been attempting to recapture that mid-’90’s magic ever since.

Ultimately, the arrival of Marbury and Garnett sparked an impressive run of eight straight playoff appearances that ended with an unsuccessful trip to the 2004 Western Conference Finals. But that was 12 years ago, and although Minnesota’s roster currently includes a collection of young talent reminiscent of a few of those teams, these Timberwolves are still struggling to meet even the most modest of expectations.

Before earning a badly-needed victory by beating Jimmy Butler’s Bulls 99-94 on Tuesday night in Chicago, the Wolves had dropped four straight and eight of their last nine games. Most noticeably, Minnesota’s porous defense has consistently negated its best offensive efforts, and the team’s young core consisting of 21-year olds Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns and Zach LaVine simply aren’t experienced enough to dig the Wolves out of the 7-18 hole that they’re currently in.

Last weekend, the troubled T-Wolves missed a valuable opportunity to turn things around with a win over the star-studded Golden State Warriors when Wiggins and company couldn’t stop their opponents from erasing a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. As usual, Wiggins showed flashes of the brilliance that once labelled him the next LeBron, Towns left everyone in awe with his agility and low-post athleticism, and LaVine continued to prove that he’s far more than just a one-dimensional dunk champion with another 20-plus point game. And as usual, it wasn’t enough.

Just two days before suffering that morale-killing loss to the Warriors, new head coach Tom Thibodeau sounded almost punch-drunk while speaking to the media following Minnesota’s 27-point, home loss to the Detroit Pistons.

”I’m going to keep coming,” said Thibodeau via ESPN. ”I don’t go away. I’m going to look at everything, re-examine. Something’s being missed. It’s got to change.”

While Thibodeau didn’t have an answer then, you don’t need the basketball IQ of Jerry West to identify the issues that continue to plague this young team. Until holding Chicago to 94 points on Tuesday, Minnesota had allowed nine straight opponents to surpass the century mark and currently rank 22nd in points allowed [106.7] and 29th in opponents field goal percentage.

Now in his fifth season with Minnesota, 26-year old Ricky Rubio isn’t the oldest player on the roster, and he isn’t even the longest-tenured Timberwolf. But with the most experience in both the NBA and on the international stage, he’s become Minnesota’s resident veteran presence and didn’t hesitate to voice his concerns about a team that’s in desperate need of a few more veterans following last week’s loss to the Pistons.

”We can accept making mistakes and [when we] don’t make shots,” said Rubio via ESPN. ”Playing with no heart, no desire, it’s just awful. Right now, it’s just bad. And it seems like we didn’t care.”

Down by 21 points in the second quarter of Tuesday’s Windy City win, the Timberwolves finally showed the heart that they’ve been missing and held an opponent to less than 100 points for the first time since limiting the Phoenix Suns to 85 points on November 25th. But while the victory stopped the bleeding and gave us another glimpse of just how good Minnesota could be, Thibodeau’s Timberwolves still have a long way to go before becoming the dangerous young team with one of basketball’s brightest futures that so many were expecting to see this season.

Boston Celtics

NBA Playoff Schedule 2018

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Are you ready for the NBA Playoffs? Well, we have you covered with the full NBA Playoff schedule including game times, TV coverage info, matchups and dates.

Here is how things are breaking down, schedule wise, per NBA.com. NOTE: * = if necessary

Western Conference

No. 1 Houston Rockets vs. No. 8 Minnesota Timberwolves

Game 1: Minnesota Timberwolves at Houston Rockets: April 15 at 9 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 2: Minnesota Timberwolves at Houston Rockets: April 18 at 9:30 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 3: Houston Rockets at Minnesota Timberwolves: April 21 at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

Game 4: Houston Rockets at Minnesota Timberwolves: April 23 at 8 p.m. ET on TNT

*Game 5: Minnesota Timberwolves at Houston Rockets: April 25 at TBD

*Game 6: Houston Rockets at Minnesota Timberwolves: April 27 at TBD

*Game 7: Minnesota Timberwolves at Houston Rockets: April 29 at TBD

 

No. 2 Golden State Warriors vs. No. 7 San Antonio Spurs

Game 1: San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors: April 14 at 3 p.m. ET on ABC

Game 2: San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors: April 16 at 10:30 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 3: Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs: April 19 at 9:30 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 4: Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs: April 22 at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC

*Game 5: San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors: April 24 at TBD

*Game 6: Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs: April 26 at TBD

*Game 7: San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors: April 28 at TBD

 

No. 3 Portland Trail Blazers vs. No. 6 New Orleans Pelicans

Game 1: New Orleans Pelicans at Portland Trail Blazers: April 14 at 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

Game 2: New Orleans Pelicans at Portland Trail Blazers: April 17 at 10:30 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 3: Portland Trail Blazers at New Orleans Pelicans: April 19 at 9 p.m. ET on NBA TV

Game 4: Portland Trail Blazers at New Orleans Pelicans: April 21 at 5 p.m. ET on TNT

*Game 5: New Orleans Pelicans at Portland Trail Blazers: April 24 at TBD

*Game 6: Portland Trail Blazers at New Orleans Pelicans: April 26 at TBD

*Game 7: New Orleans Pelicans at Portland Trail Blazers: April 28 at TBD

 

No. 4 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. No. 5 Utah Jazz

Game 1: Utah Jazz at Oklahoma City Thunder: April 15 at 6:30 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 2: Utah Jazz at Oklahoma City Thunder: April 18 at 8 p.m. ET on NBA TV

Game 3: Oklahoma City Thunder at Utah Jazz: April 21 at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN

Game 4: Oklahoma City Thunder at Utah Jazz: April 23 at 10:30 p.m. ET on TNT

*Game 5: Utah Jazz at Oklahoma City Thunder: April 25 at TBD

*Game 6: Oklahoma City Thunder at Utah Jazz: April 27 at TBD

*Game 7: Utah Jazz at Oklahoma City Thunder: April 29 at TBD

 

Eastern Conference

No. 1 Toronto Raptors vs. No. 8 Washington Wizards

Game 1: Washington Wizards at Toronto Raptors: April 14 at 5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

Game 2: Washington Wizards at Toronto Raptors: April 17 at 7 p.m. ET on NBA TV

Game 3: Toronto Raptors at Washington Wizards: April 20 at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2

Game 4: Toronto Raptors at Washington Wizards: April 22 at 6 p.m. ET on TNT

*Game 5: Washington Wizards at Toronto Raptors: April 25 at TBD

*Game 6: Toronto Raptors at Washington Wizards: April 27 at TBD

*Game 7: Washington Wizards at Toronto Raptors: April 29 at TBD

 

No. 2 Boston Celtics vs. No. 7 Milwaukee Bucks

Game 1: Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics: April 15 at 1 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 2: Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics: April 17 at 8 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 3: Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks: April 20 at 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

Game 4: Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks: April 22 at 1 p.m. ET on ABC

*Game 5: Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics: April 24 at TBD

*Game 6: Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks: April 26 at TBD

*Game 7: Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics: April 28 at TBD

 

No. 3 Philadelphia 76ers vs. No. 6 Miami Heat

Game 1: Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers: April 14 at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN

Game 2: Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers: April 16 at 8 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 3: Philadelphia 76ers at Miami Heat: April 19 at 7 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 4: Philadelphia 76ers at Miami Heat: April 21 at 2:30 p.m. ET on TNT

*Game 5: Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers: April 24 at TBD

*Game 6: Philadelphia 76ers at Miami Heat: April 26 at TBD

*Game 7: Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers: April 28 at TBD

 

No. 4 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. No. 5 Indiana Pacers

Game 1: Indiana Pacers at Cleveland Cavaliers: April 15 at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC

Game 2: Indiana Pacers at Cleveland Cavaliers: April 18 at 7 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 3: Cleveland Cavaliers at Indiana Pacers: April 20 at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN

Game 4: Cleveland Cavaliers at Indiana Pacers: April 22 at 8:30 p.m. ET on TNT

*Game 5: Indiana Pacers at Cleveland Cavaliers: April 25 at TBD

*Game 6: Cleveland Cavaliers at Indiana Pacers: April 27 at TBD

*Game 7: Indiana Pacers at Cleveland Cavaliers  April 29 at TBD

 

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Cleveland Cavaliers

Cavs’ Kyrie Irving Looking To Bolt Cleveland

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The news came out today that Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving, an essential part of the Cavaliers core, has asked the team to be traded,

The request comes as a shock to most of the NBA world, Cavs fans and the Cavs organization.

Irving’s agent, Jeff Wechsler, did not confirm nor deny the reports:

“Kyrie and I had a meeting with Cavs leadership where we discussed many different scenarios in reference to Kyrie and his future with the team,” Wechsler told Wojnarowski. “The basis of those discussions and what went on in those discussions are between the Cavs and us. We are respectfully going to keep those private.”

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the San Antonio Spurs were the preferred destination for Irving and ESPN reported that other teams include the Minnesota Timberwolves, New York Knicks and Miami Heat.

LeBron James was unaware of Irving’s request and according to ESPN:

As the Cavs consider their options, sources said James has expressed to the team that he is focused on his offseason workout regimen and is planning to report to training camp with the intention of leading his teammates to a fourth consecutive Finals — no matter who those teammates are.

Irving has 2 years left on his deal so the ball is totally in Cleveland’s court but Irving has made his intentions clear, every sportsbook across the country.

He wants out.

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Los Angeles Lakers

Six Fun Things to Root for at Tonight’s NBA Draft Lottery

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The NBA Draft Lottery takes place tonight at 8:30 pm EST on ESPN. The only real policy we have in any of the major American sports that is used to deter tanking, it’s the annual Burning Man for conspiracy theorists. Frozen envelopes, league payoffs, Dikembe Mutombo tweets; this event was hand crafted for NBA Twitter. Here are six fun things to root for tonight:

  1. Philadelphia wins the top overall pick, knocking the Lakers out of the top-3, therefore giving them ownership of the Lakers pick as well as their own. This would give the Sixers two top-5 picks in a loaded draft just a year after firing Sam Hinkie and giving up on the #process.
  2. New Orleans wins, meaning they get to keep their draft pick from the DeMarcus Cousins trade and we all get to keep making fun of Vlade Divac’s ineptitude.
  3. Sacramento wins the lottery with their own pick, but are therefore forced to send it to Philadelphia as part of that horrifying Nik Stauskas trade… and we all get to keep making fun of Vlade Divac’s ineptitude.
  4. Minnesota wins the lottery, placing three of the last four number one overall picks on the same roster, thanks in large part to the extra ping pong balls they acquired when the Knicks unwittingly won on the final day of the regular season.
  5. The Lakers fall just one spot in the lottery, from third to fourth, meaning they are forced to send their draft pick to Philadelphia because they decided to win five of their final six games and let Phoenix end the season with a worse record.
  6. Phoenix wins the lottery and decides to draft yet another point guard and go all-in on the five point guard lineup.

 

 

 

Follow David on Twitter @dmcgowan24

 

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