Wolves Win Quick Hitters & Spurs Preview

Credit: Craig Lassig

In the 1st game of a back to back home set for the Wolves against the Kings and Spurs, Minnesota took the front end by earning a 107–97 victory. The game was the opposite of pretty during the 1st half, but the Wolves did what they were supposed to do in the end by beating a team that is potentially headed towards a downward spiral. Here are 2 quick thoughts on the win followed by a preview of the “SEGABABA” against the Spurs!

44 points in the 1st half…

The Wolves have managed to put together some abhorrent halves of basketball so far this season, and this one was no exception. Sure, it wasn’t as bad as the 2nd half in one of their Clippers games where they scored only 27 points, but it was nearly as disappointing.

Offensive rebounds were once again the biggest culprit for the Wolves being down by 4 at the half despite holding the Kings to 32% shooting. Sacramento grabbed 13 offensive boards in the first two quarters and 30 rebounds total compared to the Wolves’ 17 rebounds. It was just a masterclass by the Timberwolves in getting out-sized and out-worked.

The jump shots continued to clank as well with the entire starting lineup getting shut out from behind the 3pt. line. Only Jaden McDaniels and Naz Reid splashed a 3 in the 1st half en route to a 2–18 1st half from beyond the arc. At some point these shots have to start falling for others…. right?

63 points in the 2nd half!

Take that 1st half, crumple it up, and turn it on its head and you get the Wolves’ 2nd half! Was it an inspiring halftime speech? Coaching adjustments? Or just Wolves players deciding to step up? Probably a combination of those things, but honestly it just seemed like the team’s best players made an effort to play crisp basketball in the 2nd half. They gave a crap, and it showed.

The “Big 3” showed up and each scored double figures in this 2nd half. They seemed to play well off of one another with some timely cuts to the basket and taking advantage of mismatches. Anthony Edwards specifically had a magical 4th quarter where he poured in 16 points and iced the game for the Wolves with his 3’s at the end. This is the type of finishing kick the Wolves need from the 20 year old to rack up wins.

Finally, a shoutout to Jaden McDaniels. A recent demotion to the bench has seen him lose a few minutes per game after a rough start to the season. Mainly he could not stop fouling. Well, in 20 minutes of action against the Kings our slender son managed 0(!) fouls while guarding De’Aaron Fox and Harrison Barnes, among others. Good defense without fouling and 3/5 shooting in 20 minutes of action is a solid return from a bench player. Let’s hope this type of positive momentum continues for the young gun.

Previewing the Spurs

San Antonio, the perennial powerhouse, is in a bad way at the moment. They sit at 4–10 and are riding a 3 game losing streak during which they have not been very close to winning any game. This is their final contest of a 3 game road trip where they played in Los Angeles for 2 games against the Lakers and Clippers and now come to the Target Center to see Minnesota.

First and foremost, this is a game where the Wolves should not get beat on the boards. While the Kings roll out a fairly large lineup, the current version of the Spurs are the opposite. With their behemoth center, Jakob Poetl, likely out again they will start Drew Eubanks, a 6'9" center in his 4th year. Thaddeus Young has been splitting the center minutes with Eubanks.

With those 2 playing center, the Spurs really do not have a power forward to speak of. Doug McDermott will technically start at PF, but as we know he is more of a shooter than a big man. Keldon Johnson should see some minutes at PF, and Devin Vassell may as well. That all adds up to this being one of the few games where the Wolves have a size advantage!

This should be a Karl-Anthony Towns dominated game. I’m not advocating for him to score 40 points and get post touches, rather he needs to dominate as a rebounder on offense and defense. The Spurs are still a smart defensive team, so if the Wolves try their stagnant “post-up driven” offense, San Antonio will welcome that as they double team KAT and force turnovers. Chris Finch and the Wolves need to find ways to get KAT going in other ways like driving to the rim to score and draw fouls.

The way the Spurs will want to play offense will be to get their athletic guards going downhill. Dejounte Murray, Lonnie Walker IV, and Keldon Johnson all want to attack the paint and get defenses in scramble mode. Minnesota needs to shut off those driving lanes by packing the paint and sticking to their low-man concepts they showed off early in the season. Anytime a Spurs guard gets into the paint there should be several Wolves surrounding them with active hands. Similar to how the defense played in the preseason and first few games of the regular season.

I do see a Wolves win against the Spurs in this one! The biggest achilles heel for this Minnesota team is in the rebounding department, and I just do not see the Spurs being able to dominate that area, and they have not been a good enough shooting team to make teams pay without 2nd chance opportunities. These are not your grandfather’s, your father’s, or even your son’s Spurs. We won’t see DeMar DeRozan, Patty Mills (Wolves killer), or LaMarcus Aldridge. If Minnesota comes in with good energy and execution it should be a fairly easy win.

-Jerry W.

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