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Thursday Cup of Canis

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Wolves preseason, WNBA Finals, more.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Phoenix Suns Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

A few thoughts from the Wolves 111-106 loss to the Suns in the preseason opener:

Gersson Rosas and Ryan Saunders apparently weren’t joking when they talked about playing small, playing fast, and shooting threes.

They started with three wings (Andrew WIggins, Jake Layman, and Robert Covington) along with Karl-Anthony Towns and Jeff Teague, and didn’t play with more than one true big on the floor until late in the game after Towns and others were done for the night.

The pace was a furious 114.0 per NBA.com—both teams were pushing relentlessly. The Wolves hoisted up 39 three point attempts, a number they matched or exceeded only seven times last season. Unfortunately, they made only eight of them.

This could be a problem going forward. Of course they will shoot better than 20 percent from three, but teams go small to outrun and outshoot their opponents. The Wolves aren’t good enough shooters to really take advantage. Still, it was a step forward to see the squad embracing the three.

Another issue with playing small is rebounding. The Suns got on the offensive glass with ease through much of the game, something that the Wolves will have to address. They struggled to rebound even playing two traditional bigs last year.

Towns is gonna have to play a ton of minutes. We knew this, but that first game was stark:

With Towns: +19 in 19 minutes.
Without Towns: -24 in 29 minutes.

The gulf between him and everyone else on the roster is very, very wide. Hopefully not as wide as it looked on Tuesday.

Traveon Graham was the first guy off the bench which was a bit of a surprise. He looked somewhat useful and might be part of the rotation, which would squeeze things even more.

Jarrett Culver, after some initial jitters, looked like a ball player. He’ll help eventually. Interestingly, there were stretches without a “traditional” point guard on the floor. Culver did a lot of initiating during those minutes. I didn’t really expect to see that early on, and perhaps we won’t once the regular season starts, but it was notable they went with some four wing lineups.

The Wolves are back in action tonight in San Francisco against the Warriors. It’ll be on NBAtv. Argh.

Elsewhere, the Lakers and Nets are bizarrely playing a game in Shanghai with no media. It isn’t being broadcast in China, and all press availability was cancelled by the government. The NBA really should have just brought them home.

There are plenty of places you can read about this situation, so I’m not going to get too much into it. I’ll just say this: All of this, cancelling media, cutting off NBA broadcasts, pressuring sponsors to bail on the NBA...it all makes the Chinese Government appear petty. Small. Defensive. I mean, these are things Donald Trump would do.

Finally, Game Five of the WNBA Finals is tonight at 7pm CDT. This has been a terrific series. It has felt like the Mystics’ year, but the Sun are giving a tremendous battle. I don’t really have a rooting interest, but it would be disappointing if the Mystics lose out due to some unfortunate injuries. But Elena Delle Donne has been playing through, and I think the Mystics will find a way tonight at home.

What ya got?