Timberwolves Struggle to Find Chemistry; Lose to Spurs in Season Opener

As expected, the Wolves looked a little discombobulated throughout Wednesday’s game vs the Spurs, as they got comfortable with each other on the court. The first quarter was rough. The Wolves got behind early and the Spurs took advantage of the Wolves’ mistakes. It was a really ugly defensive showing for the Wolves early. Wiggins and Towns played pretty terrible defense all game, to be honest.

By the end of the 1st quarter, the Wolves were trailing 32-25.

The second quarter was a lot of the same thing. Jimmy Butler really started to stick out though. It is clear that he will be the guy the Wolves go to when they need a basket.

It was also interesting to note that, unlike what many thought, Thibs allowed his bench to play a lot and he played it early in more of a platoon style than expected. He also played some of them a lot late. Four bench players had 8 minutes or more in the 1st half. Jeff Teague also showed some hustle on defense. The defense did tighten up slightly in the 2nd quarter too.

Halftime: 53-49 Spurs Lead

There were a couple noticeable things early.

  • The Spurs are still the Spurs and look similar no-matter who is on the court for them. Remember, Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker were both out for this game.
  • The Wolves were definitely looking to shoot 3’s early. Wiggins and Butler both had multiple 3’s launched within the first couple minutes.
  • The defense is still going to struggle, at least early.
  • The Wolves are better when Jimmy Butler has the ball.

The Spurs pulled away a bit in the 3rd quarter. The Wolves continued to make mistakes and give up easy baskets and offensive rebounds as the quarter unfolded. It was a little frustrating to watch, but again, the Wolves are going to struggle at times as the season gets going.

Teague started to heat up in the 3rd, hitting some nice contested shots in the lane. Wiggins caught a little fire too. Unfortunately, both guys needed a breather as we neared the end of the 3rd quarter. Another bright spot: I saw Bjelica hit a 3 to close the quarter and bring the game back within 10.

Spurs Lead 87-77 After 3 Quarters:

The Wolves made a comeback in the 4th quarter and it was impressive. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough. When it was good, it was really good. They even clawed back, after being down 10 to start the quarter, to take a 1-point lead with 5 minutes left. But, a couple big misses off of open shots would put the nail in the coffin. The Spurs didn’t miss on their opportunities down the stretch like the Wolves did.

FINAL: Spurs WIN 107-99

The Bad:

Giving up offensive rebounds, defensive lapses, missed open shots late, and Andrew Wiggins missed free throws all hurt the Wolves on the surface. But, a closer look at the numbers shows other deficiencies. Jimmy Butler had an underwhelming start in his first game in a Wolves uniform. He had just 12 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists. He was a -19… Towns’ numbers aren’t as low as Butler’s but he seemed to struggle too. It was frustrating to watch. Meanwhile, the Spurs had 11 blocked shots and visually gave the Wolves’ bigs trouble down low. That was part of the problem with Towns too.

The Good:

Andrew Wiggins looked good on offense tonight. He hit his open shots and was able to create on the dribble like we know he can. He needs to improve on defense. Thus Jones and Jamal Crawford played 23-24 minutes and provided sparks off the bench, offense. Thus played most of the 4th quarter over Teague, which is interesting. Jamal Crawford is exactly who we thought he was. Smooth. There’s a reason why he has the best release available on NBA 2k. Jimmy’s numbers were down in this game, as we’ve already mentioned, but that will change. He needs to get more selfish and will, as the season rolls on. When the ball was in Jimmy’s hands, the offense ran better. Defensive collapses on Butler gave Wiggins a few of his open shots. His vision is impressive.

Up Next:

Timberwolves (0-1) vs Utah Jazz (1-0)
Friday, October 20 – Target Center – 7 PM

Eric Strack
Minnesota Sports Fan @RealMNSportsFan

Stat Help from ESPN

Photo: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

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