Let’s get this out of the way first and foremost — it feels way better to write about the Timberwolves when they’ve won three straight.
At this time last Sunday, the biggest task at hand was decoding the mystery that was the Los Angeles road trip. A rout of the middling Los Angeles Lakers followed by getting dismantled by the surging Los Angeles Clippers. Huh?
As weird as it was to experience and utter domination followed by a rollover, clarity came this week in the form of a three-game win streak.
I actually pray to the basketball gods that the Timberwolves never become a good, consistent team because if they do I’m not exactly sure what some of you will have left to tweet about.— Kyle Theige (@KyleTheige) November 21, 2021
Cohesion: What a beautiful sight to see.
DLo, Ant and KAT dropped 20+ in the same game for the fourth time this season.— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) November 21, 2021
It’s the most of any trio in the NBA pic.twitter.com/YIsQETaNm0
The previous offensive output from Russell, KAT, and Anthony Edwards was only part of the problem. On a larger scale, there was no blanket trust in any sort of offense.
Chris Finch was spot-on in his postgame presser Saturday night. Paraphrasing, he mentioned there seems to be an increasing amount of trust among everyone that by passing the ball, you’ll receive it back.
That explains a lot, and connects many dots on what we saw in the early-season offense. There wasn’t any movement or cohesion. Often times, if Edwards had the ball, D-Lo would be directly to his left holding his hands up asking for the ball, and vice versa. Or when KAT would have the ball in a post-up situation, nobody would move around him. All to say, there was no shortage of waiting around for a double team and expecting to get a hard-to-make kick out pass. Turnovers, turnovers, and more turnovers.
D’Angelo Russell after tonight’s 43-point win over the Grizzlies:— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) November 21, 2021
“I just think we can beat any team. Simple as that. I’ll take our 5 against any 5. I’ll take our bench against any bench. I’ll take our coach. Coach coached his ass off. It’s coming to the light.”
The last thing I want to do is make it seem like all is perfect with this team right now, and the offense is fixed from here on out.
Just as it was stupid to rush to quick conclusions that this team was dead in the water after nine games, it’s stupid to crown this team as a juggernaut after 3 great games against one slightly-average and below-average opponents.
The expectation going into the year is that this team, if healthy, should make the play-in tournament at the end of the season, at minimum. Slip ups and off nights are going to happen, but hopefully this uptick in offensive fluidity can put the weeks behind us in which we see double-digit collapses in back to back games, are no longer worried about no-shows on a night in and night out basis, and aren’t left guessing as much which team we will see every game.
What am I long-windedly trying to say? This team is incredibly exciting and starting to look like what we wanted. It would be amazing if this started to round into an expectation.
There are 33 5-Man lineups that have played at least 75 minutes together so far this season.— Brendan Hedtke (@B_HedtkeNBA) November 21, 2021
The Timberwolves current starters (Bev, DLo, Ant, Vando, KAT) currently have the highest offensive rating of those lineups (134.2) and the 2nd lowest defensive rating (85.1).
Simply put — the Timberwolves will be the most interesting team in basketball to watch this week.
They can’t, and won’t (knocks on wood), lose to the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday. I’m not good at math, but if the Pelicans beat them, half of their wins would come against the Timberwolves.
A win against New Orleans Monday would put the Wolves at four straight wins and make them one of the hottest teams in basketball rolling into a date with Jimmy Butler and the Heat in Miami on Wednesday, the “call Rachel Nichols” bowl. If this scenario ends up happening, it’s a great measuring stick game to see where the team is as they start to galvanize. Jimmy Butler guarding Anthony Edwards? KAT vs. Bam? Tyler Herro and D’Angelo Russell going toe-to-toe?
Here’s the video of the back-and-forth between Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns late in the fourth quarter.— Canis Hoopus (@canishoopus) May 8, 2021
If you listen closely, you can hear KAT say “call Rachel Nichols.” pic.twitter.com/xBvRf1bJgO
Sign me up, and this doesn’t even mention the proceeding game against Charlotte on Friday.
My spot-on predictions for the week are as follows:
*Team-high scorer predictions noted
Monday, 11/22 - Timberwolves 108, Pelicans 88 - Karl-Anthony Towns 28 points
Wednesday, 11/24 - Heat 111, Timberwolves 95 - D’Angelo Russell 24 points
Friday, 11/26 - Timberwolves 105, Hornets 98 - Anthony Edwards 29 points
Saturday, 11/28 - 76ers 118, Timberwolves 112 - Karl-Anthony Towns 34 points