March 22, 2012

I Miss Ricky

Since that Friday night against the Lakers, nearly 2 weeks ago now, the Wolves have lost 5 out of their last 7 games.  I tried to talk myself into thinking that we would be ok with the chemistry that has been built here, Barea on his way back from injury, and Ridnour actually playing fairly well at the time.  In what seems like an instant, Minnesota has gone from having sole possession of the #8 spot in the West, to 2.5 back and 3 teams in their way to get back to that point - in less than two weeks.  In fact, their only 2 wins during the post-Rubio era have been against a team that is tanking this season to preserve their 1st round draft pick (Warriors), and a hot Suns team which we just outscored shooting 14-22 from 3 point range.


As expected, the lack of overall energy on both ends of the floor has been the most noticeable difference from then and now.  What I think has been a little surprising has been the Wolves complete inability to defend effectively without Ricky around any more.  I expected moving Ridnour back from the 2 to the 1, sliding Webster into the lineup would actually improve the defense.  These last 7 games, the Wolves have given up 107.2 points per game.  In the 41 games previous, the Wolves gave up an average of 96.5 points per game.  Before Rubio got hurt, only 5 times did the T'Wolves even give up more than 107 points in 41 games.

The part about Rubio's game that I love the most probably cannot be tallied by any statistic.  He brings effort, competitiveness, leadership, emotion, and this feeling that the team has a chance every night when he is on the floor.  Sure, he's effectively flashy, but who knew how much of a defensive impact he has.  Maybe this even stems from the confidence that he instills in the team on both ends of the floor, I don't know.  Ricky Rubio may never shoot like Chris Paul, explode to the rim like Derrick Rose, or shut down an opposing point guard like Russell Westbrook.  The truth is, however, that this team is completely different without Ricky Rubio.  Offensively, he keeps everything in motion; defensively, his impact is beginning to show now that he's not around anymore.

I miss Ricky.  Only 8 of the last 18 games are against teams not currently in a playoff spot.  We have 9 at home, 9 on the road.  I wish I could say that there is a comeback ready to protrude from this team, but it's looking pretty meek at this time without our favorite point guard.  I never want to throw in the towel too early, but I really miss Ricky.

Follow Wolves Rubes on Twitter @wolvesrubes.

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