The Minnesota Timberwolves are finally getting healthy, which is great for them and rough for the rest of the NBA. They pegged their best-case scenario of being at .500 when Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love returned healthy. They’ve exceeded expectations and at 11-9, they’re ready to start their ascent up the Western Conference ladder.
Nikola Pekovic was relied upon to to step up in the absence of Love and Rubio and he fared well. He’s a concrete block in the paint and won’t be pushed around by anyone. The problem was, without Love on the court to spread the floor, he faced a constant struggle on the glass.
Before Love came back, Pekovic averaged 15.3 points and six rebounds, with 2.4 of those being on the offensive glass. Now that Love is back, Pekovic is up to 14.8 points and eight rebounds, with 3.4 of those offensive rebounds. It’s obvious that big Pek needs Love to take some of the pressure off.
Rubio is a godsend to every player on the court. He knows how to find the open man, but not only that, he finds them in their favorite spot. He made guys like Wayne Ellington look good during the 2011-12 season.
Now that Rubio is fully cleared to come back, there will likely be a little rust, but he’s going to take some of the pressure off of Love. Since Love’s return, he has struggled mightily with his shot. He’s making just 34.8 percent of his shots from the field and just 20.7 percent from the free-throw line.
A big reason Love is struggling is that he’s trying to create his own shot. Nowhere is that more prevalent than at the three-point line. With Rubio on the court to create, Love can find his spot and wait for a clean look from Rubio.
During the 2011-12 season, Love shot 37.2 percent from three, with an astounding 92.4 percent of those being assisted. During the 2012-13 season, he’s way down to just 75 percent being assisted.
The Timberwolves started the season in a Dodge. When Love came back, they upgraded to a Lexus. Now that Rubio and Love are back, it’s time to break out the Ferrari. The Wolves are ready to open up the offense and bring the excitement back to the fans in Minnesota.
What did the Timberwolves do in the night before Rubio returned? Not much, they justscored the most points they have all year long (113). The well-oiled machine is back and there’s nothing the rest of the NBA can do about it. Basketball just got fun again in Minnesota.
Piece originally written by HoopsHabit for Bleacher Report
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