There's certainly credit to be given for Brad Stevens and the Boston Celtics, however tonight's loss was more the Wolves losing than the Celtics winning. There's absolutely no way that the Wolves should lose that game and there's absolutely no way the Wolves should lose a game vs. an Eastern Conference opponent (not located in Miami or Indiana).
Tonight's loss is the first time the Wolves have lost a game in which they held an opponent under 45%. The Celtics shot 44.2% and the unfortunate news is that they didn't shoot a low percentage because the Wolves played good defense. They still allowed a lot of interior baskets on easy drives to the rim. Adelman played Gorgui Dieng for 13 minutes and during that time he definitely shored up some of those concerns. The questions continue, why doesn't he play more?! Especially with Ronny Turiaf still in his streets.
That leads to another question...basically the same one, why doesn't Shabazz Muhammad ever play? I understand he struggled in the Vegas Summer League, but for a team that's in dire need of scoring, why can't we even get a look at him in non-garbage time minutes?
That being said, the bench probably played their best game of the season tonight. Unfortunately it was overshadowed by the fact the Wolves were without Kevin Martin, that Rubio's offense has eluded him once more and Corey Brewer & Nikola Peković couldn't even finish off wide open dunks! As a result, Kevin Love was asked to do nearly everything and despite his 27 points & 14 rebounds, he shot just 35% from the field on 9-for-26 shooting.
The Wolves bench scored a season-high 45 points, led by 12 from Dante & 10 apiece from Barea & Shved. Unfortunately, with the good comes the bad. With J.J. playing fairly well, that meant Ricky Rubio was on the bench when the game was on the line. Rubio played just 22 minutes to Barea's 27. Despite Rubio's poor shooting, I'd much rather have him on the floor than J.J. Because it has been proven time and time again--he just doesn't know how to play in the final minutes of a close game. Barea tries to play hero ball and we're all left shaking our heads! Tonight he jacked up a terrible leaning three-pointer with 24 seconds to play with the Wolves down 94-95. The Wolves had the defensive board on the previous possession with 41 seconds to play which meant that Barea burnt 17 seconds off the clock before jacking up that terrible shot. What he should have done was work quickly to get a shot at the rim and thus a 2-for-1 opportunity. Instead, J.J. missed, the corralled the rebound and the Wolves had to play the "foul game". That very rarely works in the Wolves favor and the end result was Boston going 6-for-8 from the line over those final 20 seconds for the 97-101 loss.
Dante Cunningham went down with an ankle injury in the fourth quarter and did not return. Without Dante, Mbah a Moute & Dieng will likely see a bump in minutes and we could even see some of Robbie Hummel at the stretch four spot.
One last thought: Tommy Heinsoln on the Celtics broadcast crew was absolutely ridiculous tonight. Every single time the Celtics had a foul called against them, Tommy would go on a rant about how terrible the officiating crew was. I don't understand how a guy in his position can get away with publicly berating the officials and when coaches or players do it, they're fined exorbitant amounts of money. Add to that the fact that this game was broadcast on NBA-TV nationally. It's not just because it was a rival broadcast team saying these things, if I heard Jim Peterson & Dave Benz saying the kinds of things he did, I would still be livid. If I ever have to watch a Heinsoln broadcast again, I guarantee I won't watch the game!
The Wolves came into this game assuming they'd win. Assuming they'd easily take down the Celtics because they're the inferior opponent. The result, as is usually the case with that mindset, a loss.
The Wolves really needed this win with a matchup vs. the Trailblazers, Lakers & Clippers on the horizon this week. That's all I've got tonight, thanks for reading.
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!