Monday, November 4, 2013

NBA Expands

On Nov. 3, in 1989 and 1995 new teams joined the NBA and played their first game.

In 1989 the Minnesota Timberwolves played their first ever NBA game. The Wolves opened up their first season on the road and lost to the Seattle SuperSonics 106-94. They finished the season with a record of 22-60. Minnesota did not reach the playoffs until their eighth season in the league.

Founded in 1989, the team is currently owned by Glen Taylor. The Timberwolves played their home games in the Metrodome during its inaugural season, before moving to Target Center in 1990.

Like most expansion teams, the Timberwolves struggled in their early years; but after the acquisition of Kevin Garnett in the 1995 NBA Draft, the team made the playoffs eight consecutive times from 1997 to 2004. Despite losing in the first round in their first seven attempts, the Timberwolves won their first division title in 2004 and advanced to the Western Conference Finals. Garnett was also named the NBA Most Valuable Player Award for that season.

The team has been in rebuilding mode since missing the playoffs in 2005, and trading Garnett to the Boston Celtics in 2007.

The T-Wolves biggest notable story in the last five years was the 31 points and 31 rebounds in one game that Kevin Love put together on Nov. 12, 2010 against the New York Knicks. It was the first 30-30-game the NBA had seen in 28 years.

In 1995 the Toronto Raptors played their first NBA game. The Raptors hosted the New Jersey Nets and managed to win the game 94-79. However, the Raptors lost their next seven games and finished their first season with a 21-61 record.

The team was established in 1995, along with the Vancouver Grizzlies, as part of the NBA's expansion into Canada. When the Grizzlies relocated to Memphis, Tennessee, to become the Memphis Grizzlies in 2001, the Raptors became the only Canadian team in the NBA. They originally played their home games at the SkyDome, before moving to the Air Canada Centre in 1999.

The Raptors struggled in their early years, but after the acquisition of Vince Carter through a draft day trade in 1998, the team set league attendance records and made the NBA Playoffs in 2000, 2001, and 2002.

Carter was instrumental in leading the team to a franchise high 47 wins and their first playoff series win in 2001, where they advanced to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. During the 2002–03 and 2003–04 seasons, they failed to make significant progress and he was traded in 2004 to the New Jersey Nets.

After Carter left, Chris Bosh emerged as the team leader, but they continued to struggle. However, with the appointment of Bryan Colangelo as Raptors President and General Manager, the first overall NBA draft selection of Andrea Bargnani, and a revamp of the roster for the 2006–07 season, they qualified for their first playoff berth in five years and captured the Atlantic Division title with 47 wins. In the 2007–08 season, they advanced to the playoffs again but failed to make the playoffs in the following season. In a bid to persuade Bosh to stay beyond the final year of his contract, Colangelo overhauled the team roster for the 2009–10 season.

However, Toronto's descent down the standings, coinciding with Bosh's injuries after the All-Star break, meant a second consecutive season of failing to make the playoffs. Bosh signed with the Miami Heat in July 2010, ushering in a new era for the Raptors with Bargnani becoming the new face of the franchise.