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Tag: Jeff Teague

Tim Faklis: Timberwolves Primed for Playoffs as 5 or 6 Seed

Andrew Wiggins, just 22, has been mentioned in Kyrie Irving trade rumors, but Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor says he wants him in town for the long haul (Jose Garcia/Creative Commons).

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The Minnesota Timberwolves have missed the playoffs in each of the past 13 seasons, while finishing with more losses than wins over the last 12. However, the tide is about to turn, according to our guest, Tim Faklis, who contributes to A Wolf Among Wolves, Wolves Wired and FanSided’s The Step Back. He argues that the team’s active offseason, highlighted by the blockbuster trade with Chicago that landed Jimmy Butler, has placed it firmly in win-now mode. Tim touches upon a wide assortment of topics, including the Timberwolves’ expected improvement and whether or not they should try to trade for the Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving. Let’s see if these excerpts leave you howling at the moon:

3:20-4:02: “He [Butler] is not a dynamite perimeter shooter, but pretty much every other aspect of his game is something that they’ve missed, especially defensively. They were the worst defensive team in the NBA by a lot of measures last year. And Butler brings in that defensive toughness that [coach Tom] Thibodeau’s been looking for since he joined the team really… I think part of Thibodeau’s plan is to have Butler teach the both of them [Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins], especially Wiggins, how to work on that end.”

12:02-12:39: “Jeff Teague has been up and down from season to season in terms of his 3-point shooting. The hope is that he’ll be up in Minnesota with guys like Butler, guys like Wiggins, guys like Towns there to initiate most of the offense and him just to kind of bring the ball up and then play. Continue reading

Miami Is Seriously Heating Up (Power Rankings: Feb. 6, 2017 Edition)

In his first season in Miami, Dion Waiters is playing an outsized role in the Heat’s active 10-game winning streak (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).

Up is down and down is up in this tumultuous edition of the power rankings, which features the most movement of any edition so far, with mighty teams struggling and lowly teams rising up. The Cleveland Cavaliers, still the consensus pick to come out of the Eastern Conference, went just 7-8 in January, giving LeBron James his first losing month since his rookie year. The Toronto Raptors and the Houston Rockets, both in last edition‘s top five, have lost eight of 11 and eight of their last 14, respectively. Even the seemingly unstoppable Golden State Warriors, who have occupied the No. 1 spot in our rankings every single edition except for our first, have dropped games since last edition to the Miami Heat and the Sacramento Kings.

On the other side, the Washington Wizards were just 13-16 before Christmas and have since gone 17-4, steadily climbing up the Eastern Conference standings to the third seed, and up our rankings to fourth. The Dallas Mavericks, at one point dead last in our rankings, have won six of their last seven games, their one loss coming to the Miami Heat. And finally, the twice-aforementioned Heat, unquestionably the NBA’s biggest story right now, were 11-30 and 29th in our previous power rankings, before rattling off 10 straight wins, a streak that is still active. These are some exciting times in the NBA.

Biggest Jumps: Miami Heat (+15), Washington Wizards (+8), Dallas Mavericks (+8)

Biggest Falls: Philadelphia 76ers (-8), Milwaukee Bucks (-8), Toronto Raptors (-8) Continue reading

Hawks Grounded, While Giannis and the Bucks Soar (Power Rankings: Dec. 9, 2016 Edition)

The Hawks earned a 13-spot demotion by struggling mightily after storming out of the gates with a 9-2 start (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).

Due to stellar play from the Rockets, Jazz, Thunder and Celtics, the red-hot Grizzlies actually dropped a couple slots. The panel was indeed impressed by Memphis’ ability to win five of its last six games without Mike Conley Jr. on the court; it’s just those other teams were deemed to be even better. On the other side of the coin, the Hawks have been dreadful for nearly three weeks now and are paying for it by falling precipitously in this edition. Their 13-place drop on our list may be awfully difficult for teams to “beat” in future rankings.

Biggest Jumps: Milwaukee Bucks (+8), Orlando Magic (+7), Oklahoma City Thunder (+6)

Biggest Drops: Atlanta Hawks (-13), Chicago Bulls (-10), Denver Nuggets (-9), New Orleans Pelicans (-7), Los Angeles Lakers (-7)

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The Hawks’ Tall Task Against the Cavaliers Featuring Lang Whitaker, Jacob Rosen

Jeff_Teague_Hawks

Jeff Teague, a possible x-factor for the Hawks in this series, struggled with his shooting in Game 1 against the Cavaliers. (Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons)

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Although the Hawks put a mighty scare into the Cavaliers after storming all the way back from 18 down, Cleveland ultimately hung on to take the series opener. In a tantalizing rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, our crack guests lead us through this iteration’s nuances. Checking in for the Hawks is Atlanta sports expert and NBA.com writer and podcaster Lang Whitaker. And out of Akron, Ohio, we have Jacob Rosen, who’s an MBA student at the University of Oregon’s Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. Rosen’s also a longtime sports analytics writer for Hardwood ParoxysmNylon Calculus and Waiting for Next Year. Excerpts below:

Lang Whitaker (5:07-5:23): “[Kent] Bazemore’s a little bit more dynamic offensively than DeMarre [Carroll] was last year. There’s that saying ‘The best defense is a good offense.’ I think if you make LeBron work a little bit harder on that end, maybe that helps you in the long run as well.”

LW (5:25-5:45): “[Coach Mike] Budenholzer was trying a lot of different things. He had one lineup where Paul Millsap was playing center, where he went really small. I think he has a little more versatility with [Thabo] Sefolosha being healthy. He can go to these lineups where there’s two or three small forwards in there at the same time.”

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The Still Undefeated Warriors and the Aesthetically Pleasing Hawks

Reigning MVP Stephen Curry has managed to add 9.8 PPG to last season's scoring average as his team sits pretty at 14-0 (Noah Salzman/Wikimedia Commons).

Reigning MVP Stephen Curry has managed to add 9.8 PPG to last season’s scoring average as his team sits pretty at 14-0 (Noah Salzman/Wikimedia Commons).

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Despite Aaron’s absence, Joshua and Loren revisit the Hawks conversation that began with Lang Whitaker earlier in the week. We touch upon Atlanta’s mounting injuries and how those might impact such a well-balanced Hawks squad even more than a typical star-centric team. Although new acquisition Tiago Splitter might not be garnering too many minutes in the early season, we talk about the types of contributions he can make come playoff time.

In the second segment, we reflect on the Warriors’ exhilarating comeback Thursday night against the Clippers. The Dubs’ small lineup of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green has been killing teams in their limited minutes together so far. Should that unit be utilized more? And how integral is the team’s second MVP, Draymond Green? Finally, despite the embarrassing national TV loss, Joshua details what encouraged him about the Clippers’ performance Thursday.

Music: “Who Likes to Party?” by Kevin MacLeod

Lang Whitaker: Schroder’s “Got a Lot of Swag”

Lang Whitaker (left) repping the "A" with fellow hoops writer Rembert Browne (@rembert/Instagram)

Lang Whitaker, left, repping the “A” with fellow hoops writer Rembert Browne (@rembert/Instagram)

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After Jeff Teague’s ankle injury, the Atlanta Hawks have been on a bit of a slide, dropping three straight to the Nets, Jazz and Timberwolves. However, they did begin the season winning eight of 10. This week, devout ATLien Lang Whitaker, who writes and podcasts at NBA.com, joins us on our show to talk about the Hawks, who are seeking an encore performance to their memorable 60-win season from a year ago despite being overlooked coming into the season.

Notable sections include:

6:30-8:15: On Millsap’s sometimes understated impact on the team: “I thought last year, he was the most important player on the Hawks’ team. That shoulder injury he had right at the end of the regular season, he just never looked right to me in the postseason, and I thought that had as much of an effect as anything else did with the Hawks not doing well against Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals.”

9:25-10:30: Lang waxes poetic about Dennis Schroder’s potential and how he’s evolving: “He does a lot of stuff that I think he doesn’t know he’s not supposed to be able to do. He has a confidence that makes him a problem for other teams. Athletically there’s nothing he can’t do… He’s too young to know any better, and that’s what makes it fun to watch ‘cuz you never know what he’s gonna do. He’s got a lot of swag. He’s only 22. He’s going to be really good for a really long time in the NBA.”

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