Recap: Timberwolves 129, Cavs 95 (Or, this team is not good at basketball)

December 4th, 2010 by John Krolik

epic fail photos - CLASSIC: Apology FAIL

Overview: The Minnesota Timberwolves set a franchise record for three-pointers when they went 18-26 from beyond the arc against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavaliers have lost their last three games by an average of 27 points.

That was freaking horrifying to watch related-bullets:

Dear and honest lord. From an emotional/off-court/whatever standpoint, Thursday night was rock bottom. From a basketball standpoint, Saturday has to be rock bottom. Jamison said after the game that the Cavaliers are playing like the worst team in basketball right now, and nobody is arguing with him.

It all starts with the defense, which is so far beyond pathetic. Does anybody realize that the Heat’s best offensive performance of the season was one of the better defensive games the Cavs have had in the last two weeks? Everything about that is terrifying. At least LeBron and Co. had to make some contested mid-range jumpers while they were destroying the Heat, which most of the league hasn’t had to do.

18 three-pointers, and they were all wide-open looks until Wesley Johnson drained a semi-contested three off an on-ball screen in the third quarter. The Cavs’ defensive strategy in Minnesota was essentially that of a drunk person playing NBA 2K: they threw random double-teams at the Timberwolves around the three-point line and decided to see what would happen. Darko in the corner 23 feet away from the basket?Trap him! Pick-and-roll at the top of the three-point line? Everyone collapse! The Timberwolves, being NBA basketball players of sound mind and able body, would react to these double-teams by calmly swinging the ball to a wide-open shooter behind the three-point line for a shootaround-difficulty three.

Two defensive possessions really stick out to me, and both of them were Ramon Sessions’ doing: as the Timberwolves looked to set up a pick-and-roll, Sessions left Wayne Ellington alone behind the arc and cut off the paint before the Timberwolves guard had began to make a move. He passed to Ellington for a wide-open three. Another time, Sessions left his man wide open in the corner to awkwardly go for a steal when Kevin Love was posting up. He missed the ball and went past Love, who calmly found the wide-open shooter for a three. Oh, and a lot of times the Cavs would completely forget that Kevin Love can shoot threes. That was fun. I realize that some of the Cavs’ rotational issues were because of the anti-mobile Leon Powe replacing Hickson on Saturday, but there’s no excuse for the kind of defense the Cavs played.

107 of the Timberwolves’ 129 came from the paint, the three-point line, or the free-throw line. That is unfathomably horrible. On every level, this team seems to have no understanding as to what the purpose of an NBA defense is.

The offense was also horrible. Everything was a jump shot, and while I actually thought the Cavs got some good looks from three when they moved the ball, everyone’s outside shot was off. Sessions, as he is wont to do in blowout losses, had a very good night, going 7-10 from the field and finishing with six assists. Bully for him.

Harris and Samuels got some garbage-time run. I’d like to see Manny get rotation minutes, because garbage time seems like a chance for him to cultivate his bad habits — he’s playing AAU-style ball, but does have some gifts.

Jamison seems to be in full “the more I look like a stretch four, the better my chances of getting the hell out of here at the deadline” mode. 3-7 from deep and 2-6 from two-point range.

I don’t have much more to say. It doesn’t get much worse than this. The team’s lack of talent is incredible. Look at the starting lineup tonight. It included a second-round pick whom the Cavs got for Joe Smith and Damon Jones, a bargain-basement free agent who spent two years in the NBA before washing out and spending his prime overseas, a bargain-basement free agent who went unsigned in the 2005 draft, a second-round pick with no knees left that nobody wanted in free agency last season, and a guy we got (along with Drew Gooden) for Tony Battie and two second-round draft picks. There is one way to win with that kind of a roster in the NBA, and that’s to have some idea of what the hell is going on on defense. The Cavs clearly don’t, and that’s why embarrassments like this have been occurring on a regular basis.

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