Skip to content

Injuries, defensive woes have Timberwolves playoffs hopes fading

Jan 15, 2013, 10:15 PM EDT

Ricky Rubio AP

Early in the season it was impressive — without stars Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio the Timberwolves were winning enough games to stay above .500. They were defending. The schedule was helpful, but it felt like once they got Kevin Love back from his broken hand and Ricky Rubio back from injury they would bolt up the standings.

Instead, they 5-10 in their last 15.

Kevin Love had hand surgery Tuesday and you can expect to see him again in eight to 10 weeks. Rick Rubio is still on a minutes restriction. Their defense over that span is 26th in the league.

Suddenly, the Timberwolves looks like teams such as the Lakers and Mavericks that need some massive turnarounds and strong runs to even make the playoffs. Minnesota is 16-19, three games out of the playoffs, and dropping like a rock.

The basketball fates have been cruel to Minnesota this season. Love broke his hand in preseason in a fluke — doing knuckle pushups — and he was back for 18 games before he broke the same part of his hand requiring surgery. Rubio is back but as you might expect coming off ACL surgery he is not 100 percent, doesn’t fully trust the knee yet (and says he has a little pain) and is just not the guy from his rookie season.

But as John Schuhmann noted at NBA.com, the defensive fall off is even more confusing.

The Wolves survived that first month and a half because they had a top-five defense. They ranked fifth in defensive efficiency through Dec. 15, allowing just 98.6 points per 100 possessions. Since then, the Wolves have a bottom-five defense, allowing 108.2 points per 100 possessions….

The problems seem to start with big man Nikola Pekovic. The Wolves have allowed an atrocious 110.6 points per 100 possessions in Pekovic’s 436 minutes since Dec. 16. But they haven’t been any better (110.4) with Greg Stiemsma playing center either.

It’s not just the bigs, the Minnesota defensive collapse has been complete — the guards aren’t stopping penetration either. It’s a team effort of bad.

And it’s very unlike a Rick Adelman team.

Unless the Timberwolves have a pretty sudden and dramatic reversal of fortune, they will be back in the lottery again. Which was far from the goal they started the season with. But that goal seems to be fading fast.

Latest Posts
  1. PBT Extra matchup to watch: Can Toronto keep Paul Pierce quiet on the court?

    Apr 21, 2015, 12:14 AM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptrkyze4nmfkytlhmjnjodc4mjk4mgq0nzixowuwndg2 AP

    Pierce’s comments made him unpopular north of the border, but his play should bother the Raptors more.

  2. PBT Extra matchup to watch: Dallas has to find a way to deal with Dwight Howard

    Apr 20, 2015, 9:59 PM EDT

    Tyson Chandler, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwight Howard Tyson Chandler, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwight Howard

    He was simply the most dominant player in Game 1 of the Mavericks vs. Rockets series.

  3. Man arrested after fight over who is better, Michael Jordan or LeBron James

    Apr 20, 2015, 8:50 PM EDT

    Miami Heat v Charlotte Bobcats - Game Four Getty Images

    I could try to use logic and suggest that discussing the complete legacy of Jordan with the incomplete legacy of James is a fool’s errand. But this is the Internet, logic is not always welcome.

  4. PBT Extra matchup to watch: Marcus Smart needs to take on Kyrie Irving challenge

    Apr 20, 2015, 7:50 PM EDT

    Kyrie Irving Kyrie Irving

    What you want to see as a Boston fan is Smart embrace the challenge.

  5. PBT Extra matchup to watch: Pelican guards need to stay with Curry, Thompson

    Apr 20, 2015, 5:32 PM EDT

    New Orleans Pelicans v Golden State Warriors - Game One New Orleans Pelicans v Golden State Warriors - Game One

    Also, Tyreke Evans is a game-time decision after his injury in the playoff opener.

  6. Clippers will rebrand this summer, new potential logos leaked

    Apr 20, 2015, 4:06 PM EDT

    Screen-shot-2015-04-17-at-10.35.11-PM

    The Clippers need a rebranding, but the leaked images are not winning over new fans.

Featured video

Can Michael Carter-Williams slow Derrick Rose?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (5521)
  2. C. Parsons (5214)
  3. K. Durant (5051)
  4. P. George (4991)
  5. M. Conley (4750)
  1. T. Splitter (4638)
  2. L. James (4476)
  3. D. Lee (4374)
  4. K. Bryant (4309)
  5. S. Curry (4278)