Late in Minnesota’s big win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night, Kevin Love took a pretty gnarly poke to the eye. Love eventually ended up stumbling to the free throw line, and in a half Michael Jordan-ish display, hit the freebie without being able to really see. Love appeared to be in amazement when he saw (or at least half-saw) the shot go in, commenting to teammates that he had no idea how it went in. Love missed the second one badly, but that was the last notable moment from the incident. Or so we thought.
It’s a little worrisome that Love didn’t even travel to New York, but it does give him five full days of rest before the Timberwolves play the Rockets on Wednesday. It sounds like the Wolves medical staff is playing it safe by keeping Love out against the Knicks, but if this leads to him wearing some awesome Kurt Rambis or Horace Grant goggles for an extended period of time, that’s not the worst thing.
Cool eye fashion choices aside, it’s a shame we won’t get to see how both the Knicks and the Wolves would have handled the Carmelo Anthony/Kevin Love matchup at the 4. It’s safe to say that neither guy could check the other defensively, and there wouldn’t be too many appealing cross-matchups on the floor for either team. It would have been great to watch it play out, if for nothing else than to see just how committed the Knicks are to playing Carmelo at the 4 for heavy minutes.
Honestly though? If any team can handle losing their star for a few games, it’s Minnesota. The Wolves have started 13 different players already this season, a number most teams won’t even sniff all year. They’ll be just fine.
There’s this overplayed angle talked about by some fans and pundits suggesting the Warriors just got lucky last season — for example, they faced a banged-up Rockets’ team in the conference finals then a Cavaliers’ squad without two of their big three through the Finals. Then there was Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers saying the Warriors were lucky not having to play the Clippers or Spurs in the postseason.
The Warriors are sick of hearing they were lucky.
Friday Klay Thompson fired back at Rivers, via CSNBayArea.com.
– “I wanted to play the Clippers last year, but they couldn’t handle their business.”
– “If we got lucky, look at our record against them last year (Warriors 3-1). I’m pretty sure we smacked them.”
– “Didn’t they lose to the Rockets? Exactly. So haha. That just makes me laugh. That’s funny. Weren’t they up 3-1 too?”
– “Yeah, tell them I said that. That’s funny. That’s funny.”
Warriors big man Andrew Bogut phrased it differently.
If you think the Warriors just won because they were lucky — you are dead wrong.
They were the best team in the NBA last season, bar none. They won 67 regular season games in a tough conference, then beat everyone in their path to win a title. Did they catch some breaks along the way, particularly with health? You bet. Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Kobe Bryant didn’t win a title without catching some breaks along the way, either. Nobody does. Luck plays a role, but it was not the primary factor in why the Warriors are champs.
All this talk of them getting lucky is fuel for the fire they needed not to be complacent this season. Way to give the defending champs bulletin board material, Doc.
Dwyane Wade has earned his status as an elder statesman, the E.F. Hutton kind of veteran who speaks and everybody listens.
Rookie Justise Winslow is listening.
Winslow (who should have gone higher in this draft) is a perfect fit for the Heat and he’s going to be part of their rotation off the bench from the start of the season (along with Josh McRoberts and Amare Stoudemire). Wade has already fully stepped into the mentor role with Winslow working with him on post moves, reports Jason Lieser at the Palm Beach Post.
“As his career develops, hopefully he’s able to do multiple things on the floor, but right now there’s gonna be certain things (Erik Spoelstra) wants him to do, and some of those things I’m good at,” Wade said. “I’m just passing down knowledge to someone who I think could be good at things that I have strengths at. It’s gonna take a while, but if he figures it out at 21, he’s ahead of the curve. I figured it out at like 27.
“All of us are where we’re at because someone before us helped us. They helped by letting us sit there and watch film with them or having conversations with them. If he’s a student of it and he really wants to know, I’m a pretty decent teacher in certain areas.”
This is what you want out of a veteran leader and some of the young teams out there have done an excellent job adding this kind of mentor — Kevin Garnett in Minnesota may be the best example. Someone who can pass on his wisdom and show the team’s young players how to be a professional and win in the NBA.
It’s a little different for Winslow, he and the Heat are more in a win-now mode, but he should be able to contribute to that.