Home » Blog » Wolves, Rockets Exceed Expectations

Wolves, Rockets Exceed Expectations

Before the NBA season started, the Minnesota Timberwolves were projected to win 39.5 games. Of course, if their two best players, Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love, were healthy, this number would have been much higher. People looked at the roster of relative no-names and NBA has-beens and thought, how is this squad going to scrape together success without Love and Rubio? Well, the Wolves sit at 2-1, and have shown that while their roster may not be the most talented, it’s certainly one of the deepest in the NBA. From longtime Jazz big man Andrei Kirelenko to unsung hero Nikola Pekovic banging the boards, these Wolves are ferocious – especially in the fourth quarter. On Monday, the Wolves came back from a 22-point deficit to defeat the Brooklyn Nets, defeating them 107-96.

“We just kept talking about getting tougher down the stretch,” Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman said after the game. “We had to get stops in that fourth quarter. We played with a real edge in that fourth quarter and it just turned the whole thing around.”

From former Trailblazers All-Star Brandon Roy to solid shooter Chase Budinger, this Wolves team has a huge cast of professional basketball players that work together well and, combined, have a crazy amount of NBA experience. “This team is deep. We have a lot of guys that are just raring to go at any minute,” said Dante Cunningham, a third year power forward out of Villanova.

I loved the Wolves to go over their 39.5 win total because of this deep bench talent, and if the Wolves can linger around with a .500 record until Love and Rubio get back, they could make a serious push at the playoffs. Granted, the Western conference is deep, and the Houston Rockets have shown that they will be a force to be contended with for the last several spots in the playoffs, but if the Wolves can get their best guys back in time to make an impact, they should be right there in the discussion.

And speaking of those Houston Rockets… holy cow. Everyone knew that the addition of Jeremy Lin and James Harden would be a positive one, but no one predicted Harden would make such an immediate and massive impact on the team’s prospects. The Rockets have only played a few games, making Harden’s prodigious offensive output thus far a relatively small sample size, but his numbers have still been downright astounding: in the season opener against the Detroit Pistons, he scored 37 points, in the second game against the Hawks he scored 45, and then 24 in the third against Portland. We knew he had something to prove against his former team, but geez. Never has a trade looked so bad for one side so damn immediately. The Thunder’s decision to ship Harden out of town could not have backfired any faster or any more spectacularly. “It’s a lot different,” Harden said after his 45 point effort against the Hawks. “Having the offense run basically through you, it’s a lot different, but that’s my job now so I’ve got to get used to it.”

The Rockets were at 30.5 wins, but that was obviously before the huge addition of Harden. If you were lucky enough to hammer the over before the trade, you’re a pretty happy camper right now. I actually liked the Rockets to win more than 30 games even before the Harden addition, so it’s all gravy with the Rockets win total for me. No matter how their seasons ultimately shake out, both the Rockets and the Wolves are bringing a fast-paced, entertaining brand of basketball to the league, and challenging some conventional thinking about playoff odds in the process.

  • 100%