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Number Crunch: A Heartbreaker Caused By The Defense

Minnesota lose a close one thanks to their shoddy defensive effort.

NBA: Utah Jazz at Minnesota Timberwolves Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

On this episode of Jake Paynting’s Number Crunch post-game show, it’s all about the defensive numbers that hurt the Minnesota Timberwolves in their one-point loss to the Utah Jazz. While the Wolves were statistically sound in almost every area, they crumbled under Utah’s offensive pressure and continued to struggle on the defensive glass.

This episode’s number is 129.2, as in the 129.2 points per 100 possessions Minnesota allowed in this game. That number ranks in the 8th percentile for all games by all teams for the entire season so far. But, unfortunately, that number was just the tip of the iceberg. On the podcast — done solo style by Jake — the deep dive covers Minnesota’s rebounding numbers, the unfathomable numbers Minnesota’s rim-defense gave up, and how things only got worse in the final period.

All of that, along with some Rudy Gobert talk and how his early exit thanks to another groin complaint may have impacted those defensive numbers. This game felt like an indictment on the Gobert trade with our old friend Walker Kessler going bonkers, but it was hard to watch it and feel like the Wolves couldn’t have pulled out the win with their big man out there battling on the boards and at the rim.

If you haven’t listened to Number Crunch, it’s a 10-15 minute post-game wrap that uses one specific number to anchor a point or a trend that we’ve seen throughout a game, stretch of games, or even the season as a whole.

If this podcast or any of Jake’s work interests you, he runs a Timberwolves newsletter called Howls and Growls.

(If you can’t access the Spotify player above, click here to listen to the latest episode on Spotify - or search for the Canis Hoopus Podcast on Apple Podcasts)