Jonah: It took the Timberwolves nearly two years but they finally got Rick Adelman his 1,000th win as a head coach in the NBA. And deservedly so. Adelman has coached the Warriors, Trail Blazers, Kings, Rockets and Timberwolves, dating all the way back to 1988. He’s missed the postseason just six times (counting this current season), which makes it two straight years as head coach of the Wolves. Although the relationship between the Wolves and Adelman hasn’t been as fruitful as many had hoped coming into it but I have a feeling that both parties are still proud to be united. Adelman’s future may be up in the air depending on his wife’s health problems, but if he remains the coach for next season, I think (Really hope) that we can expect to see Adelman coaching in the playoffs yet again. Seriously, fingers crossed.
Derek: I’m going to piggy back off of Jonah and mention that, while Rubio’s shot struggled to find the bottom of the net, he did a good job staying involved on both ends nonetheless. He grabbed some boards, dropped some dimes, and have five steals. Making your free throws helps too if your can’t find your shot on any given night.
Jonah: Ricky Rubio’s shooting was straight horrendous tonight. And it all came down to mechanics. He was getting good, open looks that he can usually convert on, and I use “usually” very liberally. Luckily he was able to make his only field goal an important one in the final minute of this closely contested game. But if you watched closely, Rubio’s jumper was terribly flat, which led to a lot of rim-out’s and hard bricks. It’s something I’m not very worried about moving forward because it’s the easiest part of your game to improve but it needs to happen in time for next season because the Wolves really need Rubio to score the ball.
Derek: My negative tonight is on the Derrick Williams and Greg Monroe matchup.
First off, we knew ahead of time that Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe were a potential problem for the Timberwolves’ frontcourt. In fact, Jim Peterson noted that Derrick in particular was really going to struggle with this, and he was right. Actually, this is more about the strategy the Timberwolves employed with the mismatch in the paint than it is Derrick in general.
In the first quarter, the Pistons tried to take advantage of their edge by posting up Williams with Monroe. At first, the Timberwolves would do things like send help as soon as he got the ball and were able to force Monroe to pass out of it. Other times, Williams was left on an island against an opponent that was longer and more athletic than he was. Instead of sending the help right away, the Timberwolves waited until Monroe began his dribble and backed Williams too far in for their defense to have a chance. And by that point all it took was for Monroe, and even Drummond, to just flip the ball over Williams.
To me, Derrick did a good job man-to-man against Monroe and Drummond, despite the mismatch. He bodied them as well as he could, contested their shots, and even was able to try to force them baseline where they would be less-likely to find an angle on the backboard that they liked. Unfortunately, Williams did manage to pick up a couple of fouls and had to go to the bench even though he had it going offensively. In fact, Williams has been only slightly below average on post ups this season, with a 0.97 ppp on defensive plays, which isn’t terrible considering his physical tools, but isn’t really good either.
I understand that it’s too risky to always send a double team, especially right away, since you risk the opponent being able to hit the open man with a pass, but knowing that Williams was at such a disadvantage and not trying to get more switches for a bigger defender did not put him in a very good position to succeed. We saw that even Dante Cunningham and Nikola Pekovic were able to disrupt the frontcourt more than Williams. But all-in-all Williams was solid in the post, man-to-man; it was when he had to rely on his defensive awareness off of the ball with rotations that he began hurting the team.
Jonah: JJ Barea was the hottest hand in the entire game yet he only saw 21 minutes of court time. He finished with 20 points on 9-13 shooting. But with a good matchup against the Pistons’ backcourt, I was a little surprised Adelman didn’t play the hot-handed Barea down the stretch of a close game or even just a little more in general. No complaints though.
Derek: The Pistons wouldn’t even have to improve their talent level to improve as a whole. What I mean by that is that whenever they would force a turnover in the first quarter, they would immediately negate the added possession by getting careless with the ball again. Little things like that put them behind early, and the Timberwolves’ offense stagnating from time-to-time were really the only things that kept them in this game. Wait– why am I complaining about this?
Next up: Wolves head West for the final time this season, starting in Golden State on Tuesday at 9:30 pm.