I apologize for the lateness of this article, but I was always told never to say, or in this case write, anything when you’re upset. It seems it’s only taken me (*looks at watch*) six days to get over the Timberwolves series loss to the Houston Rockets.
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all bad. We had some good times, didn’t we?
I saw a lot of things that gave me hope for the future. Like maybe Derek Rose still has some MVP left in him or something else that isn’t so ridiculous. And let’s not pretend that anyone in Minnesota actually thought that the Wolves would win the series. All we wanted was a competitive series and perhaps steal a game at home (which we did)– and it was amazing by the way.
This playoff matchup was a good way to gauge where Minnesota stands in the grand scheme of the NBA, and what things they need to improve upon to get to the top. Let’s look at some of the good and some of the bad from the Houston series:
Good: Tom Thibodeau had an immaculate gameplan in place to slow down one of the most high-powered offenses we’ve ever seen. Driven by analytics and the presumable MVP, to hold the Rockets to 105 points in three straight games (should have been four if not for the fluke 50 points third-quarter in game 4) is a huge accomplishment. And watching the Utah Jazz (who had a top 3 defense all season) struggle mightily against them is a nice consolation prize as well.
Bad: The Wolves didn’t execute the gameplan for 48 minutes like they needed to. Which probably explains the 50 bomb the Rockets dropped in game four. Countless possessions that Towns didn’t rotate and Harden got a free run to the lane. Countless possessions that Towns did rotate, but the backside help never came and Capella got an easy lob dunk. Countless possessions that we gave up an uncontested corner three. Mistakes were made–let’s just leave it at that.
Good: There were stretches in every game that I truly believed that we could win not only the game but maybe even the series. The Wolves would string together a couple of stops, Jeff Teague was knocking down three’s, Wiggins was attacking the rim, and Towns was cleaning up the boards. The wheels were turning, things were clicking, it was all good.
Bad: The Wolves would let a snowball turn into an avalanche. A couple of defensive miscues followed by some quick shots in the shot clock or a turnover by the Wolves allowed the Rockets to go on a run that the Wolves just couldn’t combat. A 37 point second quarter in game two, a 50 point third quarter in game four. You get the idea. The Houston runs were what I was most afraid of coming into the series, and they definitely played a large role in the outcome of the series.
Good: Andrew Wiggins was attacking the rim, shooting threes and not settling for contested, long twos. He was legitimately our best player throughout the first three games of the series.
Bad: Wiggins totally disappeared in games four and five. And unfortunately for Timberwolves fans, the three good games he had are definitely the anomaly from the rest of his 2017-2018 campaign. And He knows this.
Good: Derrick freakin’ Rose was pretty good I’d say. He shot 23% from three in the regular season and then decided to become the best 3 point shooter in history and drained 70% of his threes in the playoffs. So that’ll probably continue being a thing, right?
Bad: Rose’s incredible postseason where he averaged 14 pts and three assists off the bench might entice coach Thibs to perhaps overpay him in free agency this summer. He’s guilty by reputation on this one. He must have had an incredible year in 2013 with the Bulls because I swear he’s trying to get the band back together for a redemption tour.
My biggest takeaway from the series and I’ll leave you with this, is that the Wolves desperately need three-point shooting. I don’t care where it comes from (free agency, trades, player development, the draft), I just care that it comes. The Rockets are a good opponent that will let you know if you have enough floor spacers. The Wolves don’t need to match the Rockets or Warriors tit for tat when it comes to threes, but Thibs needs to stress more three-point attempts this offseason. The makes will come later. After all:
“You miss 100% percent of the shots you don’t take.”
— Wayne Gretzky –Michael Scott