With the Spurs sitting key players, including Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell, and Jeremy Sochan, the Wolves allowed 68 points in the first half, which instilled confidence in the frisky Spurs team.
However, even with the defensive troubles, the Timberwolves’ offense hummed all day as the team scored over 30 points in every quarter on the way to setting a new franchise record with 151 points in regulation. The team also set a season-high in assists (42), and 3-pointers made (24).
Anthony Edwards catalyzed the team early through a slow start, getting to his pull-up jumpers and fighting his way to the rim for a team-high 16 first-quarter points. The third-year guard finished with 33 points, five rebounds, three assists, and two give-me-your-lunch-money steals in a 151 to 131 over the Spurs.
The rest of the team came alive in the second quarter on the offensive end. The Timberwolves started to score more as a cohesive unit instead of relying on Edwards’s shot-making. The result was seven different players in double figures by the end of the game.
Even with the team ultimately handling business, the shadows of a team that lack consistency still lurked in the background. The team got off to a poor start, particularly on the defensive end. Eventually, the team found more defensively-slanted lineups that helped them create separation, but the fact the starting lineup couldn't surmount a team that is worried more about their lottery odds at this point of the season is concerning moving into the postseason.
Why is it this Timberwolves team has trouble playing with consistency?
Even on nights like this, where the Timberwolves controlled a majority of the game, there’s a high degree of difficulty in gaining the lead. They don’t beat teams with strong offensive process and disciplined defense. The Timberwolves often rely on their natural talent and athletic gifts to overcome not having the best habits, whether it be poor transition defense, questionable shot selection, or not securing defensive rebounds.
Maybe the Wolves’ poor performance against lesser opponents, even if it’s just in a quarter stint, won’t matter come playoff time when the intensity and meaning of every game is at its peak. But the habits that appear in matchups like today against the Spurs could bubble up at the wrong times when it really matters.
Where the Timberwolves Stand in the West
The Wolves are currently the nine-seed and cannot fall lower than where they are now. Sunday’s matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans at Target Center will determine if the team can move up to the eighth seed.
Looking at the season series, the Pelicans and Timberwolves are tied 1-1. The Pelicans sport a 42-39 record while Minnesota has a 41-40 record after Saturday’s win.
If the Timberwolves win, both teams’ records will be tied, and the Minnesota will own the tiebreaker for the season series (2-1), which will bump up the Wolves up to the eighth seed. However, if the New Orleans wins, the Pelicans will clinch the better record, win the season series and secure the eighth spot.
Wolves Pass Scoring Milestones
Two beloved Timberwolves veterans crossed key scoring marks for their careers on Saturday afternoon, too. Kyle Anderson passed the 4,000-career point total on a buzzer-beating floater at the end of the first half and Mike Conley surpassed 15,000 career points on a fourth quarter 3-pointer assisted by his long-time friend and teammate Rudy Gobert.
Mike Conley scored the 15,000th point of his career, today.— Michael Grady (@Grady) April 8, 2023
Fans can watch the Timberwolves battle with the Pelicans that will determine Play-In Tournament seeding tomorrow at 2:30 PM CT on Bally Sports North.