After 53 minutes in one of most tightly contested NBA games of the season, the Minnesota Timberwolves secured their right to a playoff berth after defeating the Denver Nuggets. We all watched the game, we all listened to the post game interviews, but now we must turn our focus to the NBA’s most dominant team of the season, the Houston Rockets.
With soon-to-be MVP, James Harden leading the charge, and with future Hall of Fame point guard Christ Paul at his side, they are tantalizing at the opportunity to take advantage of one of the league’s worst defenses. If Minnesota wants any chance to even take a game off the Rockets they must do a number of things:
- Jimmy Butler needs to minimize Harden’s impact.
- Karl-Anthony Towns needs to control the boards especially on defense to keep second chance points at a minimum.
- Taj Gibson needs to switch effectively in the pick and roll.
- The wings on the court need to hug the 3 point line as much as possible.
These four things all have to do with the defensive side of the ball for the Wolves. But to stop the most effective offensive team in the league, this is what must happen. While many fans and pundits wish the Timberwolves offense were more fluid and team-oriented, it has been a top five offense with Jimmy Butler on the floor.
The young guys on the roster, Towns, Wiggins, and Tyus Jones must keep their cool in their first ever playoff experience. Minnesota will need the same Towns from the past 10 games. We also need a Wiggins who is active in all facets of the game, especially on defense. Jones is going to have the responsibility of guarding Chris Paul which is a lot to ask of any guard in the league.
Something that has not been mentioned much but does come to the aid of the Wolves is the fact that the playoff games are so spread out. Our first game isn’t until Sunday night and then we will not play until Wednesday so plenty of rest for guys who are going to hit 38+ minutes for the next four games. And if all goes right, for the next series as well.
photo credit – bluehqmedia.com