By: Jonah Sprinkel
“This has the feel of an exhibition game. Other than that first quarter,” said NBA on TNT analyst, Reggie Miller, as the second game in a best-of-seven series between the Houston Rockets and Minnesota Timberwolves drew to a close.
The first quarter lent itself to the idea that the Wolves could actually win a game in this series. The team played quality defense, holding the Rockets to just 18 points in the first quarter. Karl-Anthony Towns kept a straight face when he was called for a foul. Andrew Wiggins looked like the Energizer Bunny. Then, the second quarter hit. The Houston Rockets woke up as the Wolves slowly drifted off to sleep.
The Rockets went on to outscore the Wolves 37-17 in the second quarter and while the fat lady hadn’t sung yet, the game essentially was over.
Who would’ve guessed that a Wolves team without competent shooters would connect on 38.8 percent of their shots from the floor and 27.8 percent from three? Would you believe that a Tom Thibodeau directed offense failed to put together any creative sets? Its not possible for the Timberwolves to leave perimeter shooters wide open, right?
The loss, while completely expected by basketball pundits everywhere, is a product of an unimaginative coach and poor roster construction. Did I mention that the Wolves star player, Jimmy Butler, clearly isn’t healthy? Oh, and the Rockets just happen to be the best regular season team this year.
Butler, who averaged nearly 16 shot attempts a game in the regular season, has combined for 17 shot attempts through the two games in this series. He has made seven of those shots. Whether it’s his meniscus or his right wrist, something clearly isn’t right and that immediately places a ceiling on this Wolves squad.
Karl-Anthony Towns is another story. If the last two games were the first time you had ever seen professional basketball, you wouldn’t believe that Towns was a member of this year’s Western Conference All-Star team, let alone the second-best player on the Wolves roster.
Through those two games, Towns has a combined 5-18 shooting for 13 points and five turnovers. His body language suggests he’s the father of four who has yet to drink his morning coffee. Clint Capela (or Nene Hilario for that matter) one on one against Towns equates to Godzilla versus a small tree. It’s simply not fair when the tree breaks at the slightest touch.
Things must change if the Wolves want to walk out of this series with their heads held high. They won’t win four games against this Rockets squad and they were never going to. But, winning players and organizations go out swinging. Franchise players rise to the occasion no matter the adversity. If this season was supposed to build the foundation for the future, then it’s extremely important that they go out on a high note, regardless of what the final score says.
To sum it all up, the Rockets won by 20 while the presumed NBA MVP shot a hair over 11 percent.
Once the Rockets return to their live demonstration of flame throwing, it will really start to feel like the sky is falling for the Wolves. Until that time comes, let’s just hope the team play some respectable playoff basketball in Target Center.