Holy Kevin Love.
Every time you think he can’t get any better, he proves you wrong. 31 points and 13 rebounds a game in March. Those are Shaquille-Like numbers Love is posting right now. He’s at 26 points, 14 rebounds for the season. What’s maybe most impressive is his performance in the 4th quarter. He’s becoming the proverbial NBA “Closer”. He dropped 14 of his 40 points in the 4th quarter Wednesday in Charlotte to help put the game away. The markings of an MVP candidate there.
The Wolves have 14 games left in the season and right now and sit 2.5 games out of the 8th and final playoff spot. There’s work to do but still enough time to do it.
Kevin Love Talks About Making The Playoffs
Injuries continue to plague the team however. In Charlotte Wednesday, the Wolves basically played with 7 players. Pekovic is still bothered by a bad ankle that may require surgery, Michael Beasley has a painful sprained big-toe and J.J. Barea has been battling a thigh injury. Three key players is not an easy thing to overcome.
The Wolves keep battling however and have kept themselves in the running. Next up, the Boston Celtics come to town and that means a visit from Kevin Garnett.
Life after KG has not been kind to the Timberwolves (that could be an understatement). But as things turned out for KG, he’d have to be thrilled with how his career turned out.
Things went downhill quickly after his MVP season and a trip to the Western Conference Finals in 2003-04. Three straight seasons missing the playoffs, struggling to find complimentary players and a couple of coaching changes put the Wolves in a difficult position. Unable to win with their franchise player in his prime, they decided to trade Garnett to Boston in July of 2007.
The Wolves fell immediately into the NBA cellar, only this season digging their way out of it and towards the playoffs behind Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and a group of young players that seemed to have turned the corner. The Wolves seem to be back.
Garnett and his $22 million a year salary were heading to Boston along with Ray Allen, who the Celtics traded for earlier in the summer of 2007. Those two teamed up with Boston superstar Paul Pierce to become Boston’s new “Big Three” (named after the Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parrish Big Three of the 1980’s). They’d finish the season as NBA Champions, knocking off Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in 6 games. Garnett had his long-awaited NBA Title and was as big a star as there was in the NBA (Garnett and Ray Allen made an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman after winning the title).
Garnett is now 35 years old and in his 16th NBA season. No longer the athletic force he was when he was “Da Kid” with the Timberwolves, he’s still a solid NBA Power Forward on his way to a Hall of Fame career. He’s played against his old franchise several times, has been back to Minnesota to play at Target Center and has heard the cheers and the boos from Wolves fans. His first time back to Minneapolis with the Celtics, he didn’t play but he did enter the arena and was loudly cheered when introduced to the crowd.
But as the years have gone by, Garnett has made many comments seemingly ripping the Wolves franchise. Then, just last night, Boston writer Steve Bulpett tweeted a quote from Garnett saying “It’s always special to come back to true fans … But as far as that franchise, I have nothing positive to say.”
Certainly the Wolves struggled to surround Garnett with a lot of talent and he had to carry the team many nights. Garnett’s $22 million dollar salary didn’t help and the fact is, team management made more than their share of mistakes.
But a franchise that drafts a player right out of high school deserves some credit, don’t they? It was the first time that had been done in two decades (two players were chosen in 1975 before Garnett in 1995) and launched a new era of high schoolers leaping to the NBA.
Then, after 12 seasons of limited success, the team decides to part with their NBA Superstar and trade him to a team where he wins an NBA Championship. Then they honor him when he comes back to town.
But Garnett has “nothing positive to say”?
As Wolves fans, we can always think about the positives that Garnett brought to Minnesota. The unbelievable drive of a high school kid making it in the NBA, turning himself into an All-Star, leading the team to the brink of a Championship and providing more exciting moments than we can count…it was a great time to be a fan.
Now, we move on and welcome our new Superstar, Kevin Love, hope he can show our old star a thing or two Friday night and inch ever closer to the playoffs. It’s too soon to say “who’s the better player”. Time will tell. But right now, I know who I’d take.
Go get ’em KLove!
Coach Rick Adelman Postgame Comments Wednesday
You can listen to the Wolves and Celtics Friday night on WCCO Radio and on wcco.com. Mike Max has Timberwolves Tip-Off starting at 6:15 with game time at 7:00 on the home of the Wolves, News Radio 830 WCCO!