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Minnesota Timberwolves

Timberwolves must re-examine roster after another disappointing season

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The last time the Minnesota Timberwolves made the NBA playoffs, YouTube had not been created, George W. Bush was in his first term, and Shaquille O’Neal was a dominant force in the league. And on Saturday night, the Timberwolves were once again eliminated from the postseason thanks to a loss against the Kings as well as Portland’s victory over the Phoenix Suns.

But this early elimination may be the most disappointing in years. FiveThirtyEight had projected the Timberwolves to win 46 games and grab the sixth seed during the preseason, and some analysts had gone so far as to predict a 50-win season for this team.

Yes, perhaps the expectations for the team was simply too high, as the young Wolves were expected to make a leap many did not and teams as young as they are often don’t win a lot of games. But there are quite a few problems and disappointments surrounding this team which have to be looked at.

In particular, there are three players which the Wolves have to take a long, hard look at, especially at two of the pieces of their supposed Big Three. Kris Dunn was supposed to be a reliable back-up to Rubio this season given his age, but he is averaging more shot attempts than points and has a legitimate case to be the worst rotation player in the league this season.

But if Dunn was supposed to be a back-up, what about Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine? In Wiggins’s case, the good news is that his three-point shooting has improved. The bad news, as Basketball Reference notes, is that the rate at which he draws free throws has absolutely cratered, making him less efficient overall despite his improved shooting. When you further consider how Wiggins takes a lot of long twos and does not do much else besides score, there is a real fear that he will turn into something like New Jersey Vince Carter – a perennial All-Star to be sure, but nowhere near enough to the top 10 or 15 player he was supposed to be.

In LaVine’s case, the Wolves this season were 16-31 with him on the court, but have been 14-14 without him, sparking questions in the Minnesota press about how much value he brings. LaVine is certainly a skilled player, but the Wolves already have two ball handlers in Wiggins and Rubio, and there may not be enough ball to add LaVine as well. The speculation for the past year has been that the poor-shooting Rubio would be the odd one out and get traded. But the Wolves need better defense more than shooting, and LaVine is a much worse defender than Rubio. And even with the ACL injury, LaVine likely has more trade value.

Next season should be an improvement on this year. The players are making more money and we already saw what a difference workers’ compensation made for the Detroit Tigers. The young guys should continue to get better. Minnesota will almost certainly grab a major free agent this summer, as this is their last summer with major cap room given Wiggins’s and LaVine’s upcoming extension. The players will understand Thibodeau’s defensive schemes better.

But after years of rebuilding and failure, the Wolves cannot placidly assume everything will turn their way. They need to take a hard look at parts of this young core, and seriously think about whether all of these young pieces necessarily work together.

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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