Wolves focusing on self-improvement amid grueling schedule
MINNEAPOLIS — Rather than salivate over the potential
recovery contests that await them this week, the Timberwolves are taking more
of an internally centered approach.
“We’re focusing on ourselves,” small forward Corey
Brewer said after practice Monday, shortly before the team boarded a
There’s plenty of room for concern.
In dropping seven of its past nine contests — albeit
against the cream of the Western Conference crop and the best the East
currently has to offer — Minnesota has departed from facets that staked it to
a 6-3 start and brought hopes this revamped squad could turn a considerable
There’s still plenty of time to make that happen. Without
fixing deficiencies soon, it won’t.
“I think you try to balance it a little bit, because
you look at the teams we’ve played in the last two weeks — awful good
teams,” Adelman said. “But we have to play better.”
In a light shooting session Sunday and a full-boar practice
Monday, Adelman addressed two primary areas of need with his team: shot
selection and transition defense.
The Timberwolves are shooting just a tad over 40 percent in
their past nine games and have shot 37.8 or worse three times during that
stretch. The lowest valley came Saturday against Miami when Minnesota made a
franchise-worst 29.3 percent of its shot attempts.
A team that’s lived up to its bidding as an offensive power,
even after the 103-82 Miami loss, is the NBA’s No. 4 scoring team at 104.7
points per game. But Minnesota is still taking ill-advised shots, forcing
passes and chucking up 3-pointers when they aren’t necessary.
“We’ve got to take better shots,” Adelman said.
“We’re not shooting the ball that well, so we’ve got to find a way to be
Since a Nov. 19 loss to Washington that kick-started
Minnesota’s current rough stretch, the Timberwolves have given up 20.7
fast-break points per game and more total (187) than any other NBA team during
that span. Adelman’s top defenders, Brewer included, are taking too many risks,
the coach said.
“I think we have too many guys who gamble too
much,” Adelman said.
This week presents two prime opportunities at rectification
against the lowly, laughingstock Eastern Conference. Tuesday’s trip to Detroit
(10-11) won’t be a walk through Belle Isle Park, but the Pistons haven’t
defeated a Western Conference team aside from Sacramento (5-13) and are the
most manageable matchup Minnesota will have seen since Nov. 22 against
The Timberwolves return home Wednesday to host Philadelphia,
which began the year 3-0 but is 4-14 since then.
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, they’ll have Kevin
Love back for both games. The All-Star power forward missed Saturday’s outing
to be with his family in Portland, Ore., and mourn the loss of his maternal
The 76ers and Detroit are both 1-6 against Western
Conference competition, reflecting a wider NBA state of affairs in which only
three Eastern organizations — Miami, Indiana and Atlanta — possess a winning
record. Minnesota, conversely, was one of just five teams in the West that sat
below .500 as of Monday afternoon.
“In the Eastern Conference this year, you can make the
playoffs if you’re below .500,” said Brewer, who has spent his entire
seven-season pro career in the West. “In the Western Conference, you’ve
got to win like 50 games, it seems, to make the playoffs.”
“I’ve never seen anything like that. It’s crazy.”
Said Adelman: “There’s teams that people thought were
gonna be good in the East that are not playing well at all, but the West is.
There are so many teams that are right around above-.500 or close to it. … I’ve
not seen disparity like this in a long time.”
But it doesn’t matter, Adelman said, because there’s enough
to think about on the home front without seeing the early-December league
After falling to the likes of Indiana, Miami, Oklahoma City,
Houston and the Clippers during the past two 2 ½ weeks, Minnesota can’t afford
to fall much further behind the rest of the wide-open West. San Antonio, then a
rest-of-December slate that’s almost equivalent to that of November, lurk
around the corner.
“Our schedule is brutal until January,” Adelman
said, “so you’ve got to go out, and you’ve got to get some wins now.”
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