Timberwolves vs Utah Jazz (and Ricky Rubio) in Game 2 of 82

What: Minnesota Timberwolves (0-1) vs. Utah Jazz (1-0)
When/How: Friday, October 20 – 7:00 PM / FSN – TV
Where: (Newly Renovated) Target Center – Minneapolis, MN
Vegas: S:+4.5 O/U:199

Well Minnesota, you didn’t overreact quite as much as I had predicted when the Wolves lost the first game of the year. I’m proud of you.

The Wolves will take some time to mesh together with all of their new pieces. We need to be patient with that. I mentioned in the season preview on Tuesday-Wednesday, how poorly newly formed talented teams had played early on in their first seasons together.

So, after doing that research, I expected things to look a little off.

However, some things looked eerily similar to last season. First, the defense. It looked like Towns and Wiggins haven’t come as far as we’d hoped on that end of the floor. It seems to be a lack of concentration. There are things you learn early on as a basketball player. One of those things is help defense. Not losing your man, while making sure you are in good position to help on dribble drives is a key fundamental. Right now, those two guys are having problems. @StreetHistory has some of the lapses from Towns. I couldn’t find any for Wiggins but they were there.

The rebounding on defense needs to be better too. The Wolves gave up 12 offensive rebounds on Wednesday and lost the rebound battle 48-56. Thibs needs to find a way to help Towns succeed. The lack of size from other big men on the Wolves seem to be having an effect on Towns’ ability to score and be a larger force down low. That’s something to watch, since he will see a lot of Rudy Gobert, one of the better defensive centers in the league, on Friday.

I will also be watching the point guard situation. Teague didn’t see the floor much on Wednesday in the 4th quarter. He wasn’t playing well on defense but he was starting to heat up offensively, toward the end of the 3rd quarter. Nonetheless, Thibs opted for Tyus Jones in the all-important 4th quarter. Why?

There are many reasons why Teague may have been on the bench in crunch time but it begs the fans to ask questions. It could be Thibs’ frustration in Teague’s defensive effort. It could be Thibs’ impression of Tyus Jones and his improved game as we move into his 3rd season.. It could be a myriad of other things. So look for how that develops.

I’m really looking for Jimmy Butler to take control of this team. That’s when the Wolves will be at their best. Butler seemed a bit tentative at times on offense. He was looking to distribute more to his teammates, than he was to score. It shows in the boxscore. He finished with just 12 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists. That needs to change. Butler is the best player on this team right now and he needs to act like it. Where Butler struggled, however, Wiggins picked up some slack… at least on offense..

Also, Ricky Rubio comes back to town in Friday’s matchup. He rides in with his new team, the Utah Jazz. Look for a LARGE ovation for him before the game. I would expect the Wolves to do something special for Ricky too. He was the same old guy in his first appearance with the Jazz, finishing the game with 9 points and 10 assists on 3/9 shooting from the field.

Eric Strack
Minnesota Sports Fan @RealMNSportsFan
MinnesotaSportsFan.com

Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America