Shootaround Access: Wolves vs. 76ers
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Besides Alexey Shved and Ricky Rubio, who played in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge, the rest of the Wolves took several days off for the NBA’s All-Star Break.
“I think this break helped us get out of basketball and think for three or four days about something else,” Andrei Kirilenko said at this morning’s shootaround. “A little vacation. Refresh your mind.”
Some players traveled, others stayed and worked out at Target Center. J.J. Barea took some time to visit his family in his native Puerto Rico.
“Great time, great weather, spent some time with my family,” Barea said. “Great times. I feel great, my foot is a lot better. I’m ready to go. I did a little cardio one day, but took a little time off.”
Barea sees the break as a chance to set new goals and strive towards getting more wins.
“I think we were kind of frustrated and tired,” Barea added, “but this break came at the right time. We just have to get better and treat this as a new season, see how it goes.”
Naturally, as each year’s trade deadline rolls around, rumors tend to surface. With this season’s deadline ending tomorrow at 2 p.m., local media have speculated about several Wolves being involved in trade talks.
But for a veteran like Kirilenko, it’s something that he can’t let bother him.
“The NBA is that kind of league,” Kirilenko said. “You have so many rumors going around. You don’t want to be involved in those talks, because if you start talking, your mind gets out of the game and you start worrying. If you get traded, you get traded. There’s nothing else you can do about it. You just play, and it’s the nature of NBA basketball. You don’t think about the negative.”
Barea said the same. He downplayed any rumors that might be surrounding the Wolves, and instead wants his team to focus on recovering from various injuries.
“For me personally,” Barea said, “I’m used to it, I’m used to being in rumors, for this team I don’t think it’s a very stressful time. I think what we got here is what we got for the rest of the season, so we just have to stay ready. Right now we just got to get healthy. If we would have stayed healthy, it would have been a lot different.”
As the 17th overall pick in 2009, Jrue Holiday was picked by the 76ers as a rather underachieving point guard out of UCLA. For such a highly-rated recruit in high school, he averaged just 8.5 points and 3.7 assists per game in college. But since then, he has steadily progressed, and he was recently named to his first All-Star game this year.
Holiday comes in tonight as one of the top threats for the visiting Sixers.
“I think Jrue Holiday has really improved over the few past years,” Kirilenko said. “Becoming an all-star this year, it’s worth a lot. He’s really energized the team and is really controlling the team, so it will be an interesting game for us.”
Averaging 19 PPG and 8.9 APG, Holiday has improved his own stat line drastically.
“He’s a great point guard,” Barea added. “He’ll be aggressive, and you have to pay attention and keep him out of the paint.”