This one hurts quite a bit, doesn’t it?
I know it’s rather remarkable that the Wolves (7-35) were
even competitive with the Celtics (34-7) tonight. It’s even more remarkable that they had a
great opportunity to win the game, and should have emerged with the win. But man, our squad was in the driver’s seat
with 23 seconds remaining, and they frankly handed this game away.
The play that’s sure to generate much discussion is the
Corey Brewer inbound sequence, as Brew was nailed for a five-second violation. For starters, Brewer needed to call a
timeout, since absolutely no one was open…Corey just lacked awareness on that
play. If you’re inbounding the ball, you
need to be counting down from five to zero in your head. And secondly, the inbound play itself was
ridiculous…again, Corey had no options because everyone was covered. Witt’s inbound play failed to free anyone up.
And here’s what is even more insane: On the next inbound
play, the EXACT SAME THING happened.
Marko had no options, and was forced to call a timeout. It’s inexcusable that inbound plays, of all
things, played an instrumental role in deciding this game.
Truly a case of the Wolves snatching defeat from the hands of victory.
Witt had Marko and Bassy make the final inbounds passes of
the game…problem is, that decision was too little, too late. I must question Wittman giving inbound
duties to a rookie at a critical juncture of the game—I’m a Corey Brewer rube,
but there are definitely more reliable passers on this team. Of course, hindsight is 20/20.
With their meltdown in the final 40 seconds or so, the
Wolves dropped an extremely winnable game.
But even though the ending was a crushing one, this team still deserves
major credit…they fought valiantly, and we can’t forget about the
intensity and passion they displayed for virtually the entire game.
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Telfair was great. He
came up HUGE in the final five minutes, knocking down key jumpers and draining
a finger roll late in the fourth quarter.
He’s having himself a great six-game stretch, as his shooting has been much-improved
during the past two weeks (in a future article for the site, I said he’s
inconsistent at best from the perimeter…well, that certainly hasn’t been the
case during the past several games).
Bassy was in a zone tonight…simple as that. He was shooting lights out from the perimeter.
McCants also played a gutsy game. Like Bassy, Rashad shot the ball well—but
more notably, he grabbed seven rebounds tonight—which, obviously, is uncharacteristically
solid production on the boards for McCants.
He played harder on the defensive end than I’ve seen him play in a
while, and I saw a definite determination from him on almost all of the rebounds
he snagged. This sounds simplistic, but
I don’t think the reason for Rashad’s strong rebounding needs to be very
complicated: He wanted to grab those boards, and wasn’t going to be
And that’s what makes Rashad such a frustrating player…when
the guy plays with intensity, with desire, he makes a great impact on both ends
of the floor. Unfortunately, we too
often see Rashad lagging on the defensive end—and that’s disappointing, because
I have no doubt he can make a quality contribution on defense if he’d play with
high intensity on a more consistent basis.
I’d have liked to see Rashad get more touches…his shot was
certainly dropping, but he didn’t get enough opportunities on the offensive
end, in my view. When Rashad’s in the
zone, you’ve gotta keep feeding him the ball until he stops making shots.
Even though he’ll get ripped for that inbounds play, Corey
Brewer deserves a ton of credit for his defensive effort. While not dominant on defense when matched up
with Paul Pierce, he did successfully frustrate Pierce—nothing was coming easy
for Paul when Corey was guarding him.
Pierce ended up shooting 4-15 largely because Brewer always had his body
on the longtime Celtic…there were no open lanes for Pierce, no easy baskets.
Also promising: Brewer shot 4-8 from the field. He had another solid shooting performance
shooting 6-11 in that game.
Here’s something I noticed—I glanced at Brewer’s efficiency
rating, and throughout the entire 2007-08 season he currently stands at a
+6.12. Yes, his shooting has generally
been an ugly sight, and he’s making a few too many turnovers for my liking—but
if his efficiency rating is any indication, good things are happening when he’s
on the court.
Al Jefferson’s up-and-under move against KG was easily the
most memorable moment of the evening for me.
KG actually had
but Al made a spectacular reverse layup to finish the play in impressive
fashion. Just shows that even a great
defender such as the Ticket isn’t immune to getting schooled by Big Al’s
impeccable footwork and fundamentals.
The defensive effort from our squad is definitely worth noting. I’ve complained time and time again about
poor effort on the defensive end, but you’ll see no such complaints today. The defensive intensity the Wolves displayed was truly a sight to behold…they forced the Celtics into 23 turnovers (meanwhile,
the Wolves only had 13).
Wittman clearly made certain that Garnett would be a
relative nonfactor in this game. When
Garnett got the ball, help defense soon arrived. He only took five shots tonight, but as
is usually the case for Da Kid (and I do realize how inappropriate that
nickname has become), he was dominant on the defensive glass.
Something I’ve seen from some message boards: A few people
are irked by KG’s reaction following the final buzzer. For those who missed it, he kinda grabbed both
sides of his jersey and tugged it, apparently trying to make sure people
noticed the word “Celtics” on his uniform.
Personally, I have no problem with that…this was obviously a meaningful
game for Garnett, and besides, all of us know what an emotional guy he is. He’s clearly going to be ecstatic after
beating his former team.
However, one thing confused me…as was stated in the forums,
the Celtics acted like they’d won a championship following the game. There were guys running out on the floor to
hug their teammates, players pumping their fists and waving towels. Closed-circuit to the Celtics: You just beat
a team that’s 28 games under the .500 mark.
The way most of the Celtics reacted, though, you’d have
thought they just knocked off
So, in conclusion—I can completely understand why KG was so
psyched following the game, but the reaction of the entire Celtics team left me
scratching my head. I’m sure Doc Rivers
addressed that issue to his squad following the game.
I don’t believe in moral victories (although if I did, maybe
I wouldn’t be so negative about the Gophers football program…after all,
according to coach Brewster, the team went 12-0 in moral victories last
season). Very rarely do I think that a
victory can somehow be derived from a loss…either you win or you lose. I have an all-or-nothing atttude towards that
subject. But, with that said, this game
approached moral victory territory for the Wolves.
Their intensity on the defensive end combined with the
Celtics bumbling play on the offensive end had the
crowd stunned in the fourth quarter.
With the exception of the final minute, this team made numerous clutch
plays (Bassy, in particular). It was an
The last 23 seconds of the game may have been disastrous, but
now that the initial disappointment of the loss has started to wear off, I’m
feeling very good about what I saw from this team tonight. The inbound blunders are inexcusable
mistakes, but really, the Wolves deserved to win this one.
And if this game is any indication, the "KG returns to Target Center" showdown in a couple weeks should be a memorable one.