Here’s the good news for the Minnesota Timberwolves: They’ve become a second-half team. They have proven in recent games to be good with their backs against the wall. Coach Chris Finch seems apt to make the types of necessary in-game adjustments to help Minnesota adjust and play better.
Here’s the bad news for the Timberwolves: Their backs are against the wall far too often.
Minnesota has led at halftime in just one of its 17 games since Finch took over as head coach in February. The Timberwolves are 5-12 in that span.
It’s not as though that’s a problem new to Finch’s squad, either. The Wolves have been miserable in the first half all season. The Wolves have played 48 games, and led at halftime in just eight of them.
The slow starts have just been more noticeable of late because Minnesota has proven late in these games that it is capable of playing better basketball. That’s just rarely evident in the first 12 to 24 minutes of contests.
Brooklyn, New York and Houston have all built sizable leads of late for which Minnesota has had to overcome.
“I wish I could give you an answer, but I really can’t,” center Karl-Anthony Towns said of the slow starts. “I guess we just got to come ready to play from the first minute instead of waiting 36 minutes in.”
The opening-game struggles are different each games. Sometimes the problem is turnovers, sometimes it’s a lack of defensive intensity, sometimes it’s as simple as missing makeable shots. Wednesday against New York, Finch thought his team was just a little tight before rallying to win in the fourth quarter.
Rookie guard Anthony Edwards said the Timberwolves do “a terrible job” of coming out ready to play.
“The coaches are ready, but we’re not ready,” Edwards said. “We say we’re ready, we act like we’re ready, but when it shows on the court, we come out in the first quarter, we get down 10 points and then we want to decide to play when we go into halftime.”
Edwards said if the Timberwolves can play good basketball from the opening tip to the final horn, they have “a great chance of winning every game we play.”
To do that, Edwards said players need to do a better job getting each another ready pregame.
“Like in warmups, I feel like we be (fooling around), we come out missing layups, not going full speed in layup lines,” Edwards said. “I mean, I know we’re in the league, but you’ve got to treat it the same way. The same way you get warm in rec league, AAU ball, you’ve got to get warm out here.”
So no more fooling around in the layup lines? Every team, regardless of age or ability, does that.
“I’m going to tell the guys,” Edwards said. “I’m a rookie, but I feel like what I say should hold a little weight, you know what I’m saying?”
Finch does, maybe. He plans to speak with his players about it. It’s at least worth a look.
“Generally in the league every team has a slightly different rhythm and routine,” Edwards said. “Guys like to get ready in their own way. We just expect you to be ready, but perhaps it’s something we should address. With the youth of our team, maybe we need to look at a consistent preparation.”