I imagine that most Wolves fans are down on this team after the last two games. After putting together a five game win streak the Wolves got curb stomped by the defending champs and then laid an egg against the Suns. At 7-5 some may feel that the sky is falling after those two loses. However, we're not even a month into the season. Let's take a deep breath.
First off, I don't believe there is great cause for concern regarding the loss to Golden State. They are the greatest basketball team to ever take the hardwood. The Wolves are a mix of parts still trying to find their place on the team. Could they have done some things better? Absolutely.
Admittedly, I'm disappointed in the way in which the team performed against Phoenix. No urgency and lack of defense (surprise, surprise) are the themes that stick out to me. Those seem to be ongoing issues with this squad, both before and after Butler's arrival.
But all of that is in the past. Hopefully. Today, your Minnesota Timberwolves square off against the Utah Jazz and Ricky Rubio sans Rudy Gobert who is out for four to six weeks.
When: Monday, November 13, 8 PM Where: Vivent Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah Where to watch: Fox Sports North Where to listen: 830 WCCO
Three things to watch for:
Going back to the loss at Phoenix, Butler promised to score more, and he did, scoring 25 points. However, he went 5-17 from the field. There were repeated moments where a Sun's defender swallowed up Butler's drive, forcing him to pivot and attempt to pass out. The attempt was generally short lived due to lack of motion by his teammates. This enabled Butler to try and hit a fade away bank shot with a defender draped all over him.
This can't be an ongoing trend. There are two other extremely talented scorers on the roster. Either Butler needs to find a way to get past his man or Towns and Wiggins need to learn how to move off ball better. In a perfect world, both of those things happen.
Butler's promise to score more may have backfired. He left much to be desired on the defensive end. At times, he was flat footed and out of position. Hardly the All-NBA Defense we expect from a player of his caliber. If Butler needs to trade defense for an increased offensive output then the decision should be easy; let KAT and Wiggins carry the majority of the scoring load while tasking Butler with the defense.
If this team wants to compete, even for a playoff spot, the defense needs to take a step forward. A lot of that responsibility falls on Jimmy Butler.
Towards the end of the home opener against the Jazz, Rubio and Butler were seen jawing at one another. During Rubio's time with the Wolves he was seen the happy, smiling floor general and not the guy in the middle of a fight. When was the last time you saw Rubio get into with anyone?
There's obviously some pride on both sides of this relationship. With the Wolves headed into Rubio's new home, Ricky will surely look to make up for the loss to the Wolves back in October.
Timberwolves PG Jeff Teague, SG Andrew Wiggins, SF Jimmy Butler, PF Taj Gibson, C Karl-Anthony Towns
Jazz PG Ricky Rubio, SG Donovan Mitchell, SF Thabo Sefolosha, PF Joe Ingles, C Derrick Favors
Timberwolves Gorgui Dieng
Jazz Rudy Gobert, Joe Johnson and Dante Exum
The Wolves get back on track with a 97-88 win. Wiggins goes for 25 while Jimmy returns to his defensive prowess while chipping in 17. Look for Towns to potentially have a monster game with Gobert out.