Russian relations; Wolves win 90-82

Short-handed Timberwolves beat Mavericks 90-82

AK47 logged an efficient night shooting

3 Positives:

Jonah: The Russian tandem of Andrei Kirilenko and Alexey Shved continue to impress. AK is a bonafide stat stuffer and Shved is a special player in the pick and roll. AK was able to shoot efficiently tonight, which is very much needed given all the injuries. Although Shved’s shooting numbers continue to disappoint, he’s still making plays and not letting it shooting woes get to him. Oh, and he got to the line 11 times tonight, another reason to not fret the dismal shooting percentages.

Tom: Up until my one big negative happened, Nikola Pekovic was playing EXTREMELY well. We are really starting to see his offseason work on his body paying off; the added quickness in his first step is notable. His go-to move (spin to the right and a baby hook shot) may get a bit predictable, but for now, he’s been quite productive. Per Synergy Stats, Pek is posting 0.81 ppp in 59 post-up opportunities (good for 11th in the NBA), and tonight was no exception, as Pek was 8-13 for 20 points during his 28 minutes on the floor.

Derek: This may or may not be impressive, depending on how you feel about the stat, but here are the defensive ratings for the five starters: 89-86-95-94-80. Ok, the 80 belonged to  Derrick Williams, who played his way into Rick Adelman’s doghouse again, but I think when you factor in the above average Def. Ratings (100 is considered average and the lower the better) and positive plus minuses for everyone except Will Conroy, it shows a strong defensive mentality. Considering the Mavs came into the game second in points per game, this is even more impressive.

3 Negatives:

Jonah: Hard to find a negative for the Wolves tonight, which is always a good thing. Only thing that comes to mind is the lack of effectiveness that Derrick Williams provided yet again. His performances are becoming, might I say, underwhelming in every facet. For a player with his level of explosiveness, the big plays should be coming in waves. Yet all we saw tonight was a great spin move to a baseline, reverse dunk and that was all. Just disappointing to see that he’s still failing to blossom into fruition given the enormous opportunity laid before him with all the injuries.

Tom:

For the love of God, we’re down already, make it stop!

Derek: How about the the fact that the team shot .267% from three for the night? I’d like to see Shved, who went 1-6 from distance, show a little more discernment and try to put the ball on the ground more instead of trying to shoot through it like that. I mean, Malcolm Lee missed both attempts from distance, and didn’t keep chucking. Maybe chucking is too harsh of a term, but still.

3 Observations:

Jonah: The Dallas Mavericks have a good front court. Jae Crowder, Brandan Wright and Elton Brand are not household names but solid players nonetheless. Having said that, they logged just 39 combined minutes and were neither effective or efficient on the offensive end of the court. Chalk one up to solid interior defense.

Tom: Adelman faces a tough dilemma every night: Do you try to allow Derrick Williams to develop in extra minutes on the court, thereby risking a bunch of inefficient jumpers and (by extension) more wasted possessions? Or do you stick with the more effective and productive Dante Cunningham who doesn’t really have the star potential of Williams?

It’s a tough decision in part because whoever ends up getting the lion’s share of minutes will probably be the go-to backup for Kevin Love when he returns, while the other gets scooted out of the rotation (unless Adelman puts Williams at small forward). So while they can sort of split minutes for now, reckoning day is coming (for my money, Cunningham is running away with the competition and it’s really not close).

All that being said, we better hope Pek can come back soon.

Derek: Did they really win when they turned the ball over seventeen times to the Mavs’ eight? My word, the things this team would do to the NBA if they were at full-strength.

Next up: The Wolves head home to take on the now entertaining yet still bad Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday night, 7 pm.