Just what is going on with the Minnesota Timberwolves? The team is losing; nothing new to report there. But these recent bummers are unlike those December close calls, in which only late game meltdowns born of inexperience prevented the team from knocking off superior squads. No, these recent games are much less encouraging, much more reminiscent of grim years gone by, years whose hallmarks were uninspired effort and a deep lack of imagination.
The most obvious place this shows up, of course, is on defense. The Wolves opened this game with one of the least impressive three minutes of defense you will ever hope to see. Memphis’ guards easily broke down the Wolves’ D; shots went practically uncontested; cutters roamed free. It wasn’t simply a lack of enthusiasm or intensity although this was certainly evident tonight; the Wolves are just terribly imprecise and unintuitive defensively.
Thanks in a large part to their difficulty preventing drivers from penetrating the paint, the Wolves weakside defenders tend to shade too far off of their own assignments in an effort to provide help. The irony of this is that their rotations are still late; the Wolves both over-rotate and rotate too slowly. As a result, any sustained ball movement by their opponent generally leads to, at least, an open jumper, with the Wolves scrambling to recover.