10/26 Bucks @ Timberwolves Rapid Reactions

Bucks and Timberwolves

Final Score: Bucks: 125, Timberwolves: 95

Timberwolves:

  • What a brutal showing. This isn’t the way Minnesota wanted to play in front of a solid Target Center showing on a Friday night. There is so much going on around the team, that everyone is starting to wonder how long the drama can go on. While the players are expected to be professionals, there is little doubt the drama is bothering the team and carrying over into their performances.
  • Karl-Anthony Towns had a brutal first half, performed better in the third quarter. Towns finished the first half with two points. Yes, you heard that right. The All-NBA Center had just two points at half. He was getting shots, but not hitting them. Fortunately, Towns had a terrific third quarter. KAT recorded 14 points in the third quarter, on 6-8 shooting in that frame. With tonight’s 16-point showing, Towns is now averaging just 16.3 points per game. That number is a cause for concern. Maybe it’s a matter of time before he heats up, or maybe the Butler situation is taking a toll on the big man, but things need to change.
  • Timberwolves go cold from three. After shooting 50% from three in Toronto on Wednesday, the Timberwolves were 10-43 (23.3%) from three tonight. It’s good to see Minnesota taking more threes, but they were not hitting the shots tonight, so it would’ve been nice to see Minnesota attack the basket more.
  • Minnesota has a big night on the offensive boards. One slight positive from tonight’s game was Minnesota’s effort on the offensive glass. Minnesota grabbed 17 offensive rebounds in the game, turning those rebounds into second chance points. While Minnesota has struggled grabbing defensive rebounds at times this season, the Wolves have been terrific crashing the offensive glass.
  • How long can the Jimmy Butler saga continue? Tonight’s effort was pathetic, and it won’t be getting any easier for Minnesota. Sitting at 2-4 with their next six games against the Lakers, Jazz, Warriors, Blazers, Clippers, and Lakers again, the Timberwolves have no easy upcoming contests.

Bucks:

  • Milwaukee was about as hot as a team can get from three. The Bucks shot 19-46 (41.3%) from deep. Middleton led the way making four threes with Henson and Lopez each connecting on three shots from deep.
  • Mike Budenholzer is the right coach for this group. The Bucks have started the season 5-0 and look primed for success this year. In a game where Giannis was held under 20 points, the Bucks handled Minnesota easily. If the Bucks continue to get support around Giannis, they will be in the thick of things in the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
  • Donte DiVincenzo knows how to play. DiVincenzo won’t always make his presence felt in the box score, but the rookie understands the game. DiVincenzo made a number of hustle plays tonight and recorded nine points. For DiVincenzo, he has the chance to develop into a great role player for Milwaukee this season.
  • The Bucks shared and moved the basketball. Milwaukee recorded 32 assists on their 49 made field goals. Compared to the Wolves’ 19 assists on their 36 made field goals, Milwaukee moved the ball and found the open shooter in Minnesota.

10/26 Mavericks vs Raptors Rapid Reactions

Final Score: Dallas 107, Toronto 116

Toronto Raptors

  • Pascal Siakam is one of the most underrated players in the NBA. The big man can take you outside and knock it down as well as put it on the floor. Siakam relentlessly runs the floor and is a quality passer for a big.
  • Danny Green is just a good basketball player. He is exactly what you want in a wing for today’s brand of basketball. Perfect fit next to Lowry.
  • When Jonas Valančiūnas took off for that sky hook in the 2nd quarter and put it in I stood up and yelled. I love that man so much.
  • I didn’t like the all-bench lineups for the extended amount of time they played. Nurse might be able to get away with it in short stretches but shouldn’t look to it often.
  • Kyle Lowry is the BEST Point Guard in the East right now. This man is playing incredible basketball. The command he has of the offense and the leadership that is clearly on display is second to none in the conference right now at the position.
  • Lowry had two passes in the first quarter that were just stellar. The bounce pass to Siakam and then the touch pass to Valančiūnas.
  • This Raptors team does everything well. They shot 48% from the field, 40% from three and hit 85% of their free throws. They don’t have a weakness offensively.

Who’s Up: Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam

Who’s Down: Serge Ibaka

Next Up: Monday @ Bucks

Dallas Mavericks

  • You can never count out a Rick Carlisle led basketball team. They always play with great energy on both ends, are fundamentally sound, and don’t beat themselves. Whenever Toronto would pull ahead Dallas would grit their teeth and get back in it.
  • Luka doesn’t have elite quickness or athleticism, but this guy has poise beyond his years and his patience with the ball in his hands is already elite.
  • Harrison Barnes made his season debut tonight. He definitely looked a bit rusty shooting just 5-17, but he will provide a much-needed scoring presence for this team.
  • Wes Matthews looked like an actual all-around player again in this game. Until tonight, I wasn’t sure if he could do anything inside the three-point line anymore.
  • Jalen Brunson is definitely a guy. He didn’t shoot well tonight, but make no mistake about it, this 2nd round pick can play in this league.
  • Deandre Jordan is the ever consistent 7-foot monster. You know exactly what you are going to get from him. Tonight, he gave 18 and 15 on 50% shooting.
  • Dallas really played a decent game, but just could never overcome the slow start. Dennis Smith didn’t play tonight, might have been a different outcome with his electric game in the Dallas backcourt.

Who’s Up: Wesley Matthews, Maximillian Kleber

Who’s Down: Harrison Barnes(rusty)

Next Up: Sunday vs Jazz

(I had to put this. I loved this play so much)

 

Don’t Panic…. Yet

Scared money don’t make none. These words echoed throughout our hearts and souls in this seemingly perfect off-season. Two consecutive years now OKC has had a summer that did nothing short of inspiring the entire state into believing greatness was coming, but for the second consecutive start to the season something is wrong. Yes, Russ missed the first two games, but losing at home to the Kings and then another second-half collapse to the Celtics have given birth to that familiar worry we have felt as Thunder fans all too often. Don’t press the panic alarm yet though, there are some simple steps this team can take and get back on the right track in this wild wild west.

Let’s start with the obvious. Terrance Ferguson needs to play less. MUCH MUCH LESS. He is playing about 20 minutes per game and shooting a whopping 18.8% from the field and less than 10% from three. The 2nd year guard has looked lost and is a net negative for OKC right now. He doesn’t even appear to want the ball on offense at times just standing in the corner as if he were Andre Roberson. I have no quarrels with getting your young 20-year-old minutes to develop him, but 20 minutes a game from someone who is a net negative is absurd.

Now we need someone to start in place of Ferguson. We need a guy who can step in right away and contribute. Someone with experience and has something this team desperately needs. SHOOTING! Alex Abrines needs to start and play close to 30 minutes a night. He adds a different element to this team none of the other guys can provide right now. He isn’t shooting stellar right now, but we know the Spaniard can catch fire quickly.

Lastly, OKC has to hit free throws. Everyone knows OKC doesn’t have great shooters. We all understand that this team doesn’t have great free throw shooters necessarily. But 64%???? That is just awful and good for dead last in the NBA. Andre Roberson has yet to step foot on the floor and this team is last in free throw percentage. It’s unacceptable. It is early and they won’t continue to be this bad, but in order for this team to compete with the best of the best, they have to hit free throws. They don’t have the luxury of elite shooters on the wings to get them back in the game. This team is going to win games through swarming defense, relentless attacks on the rim and taking advantage at the line.

OKC is not in panic mode. Fans should be worried, players should be on edge, and Billy Donovan should be squirming in his seat a bit. The panic button is starting to vibrate a bit. It’s over in the corner of the office looking enticing. Don’t press it. Resist the urge. This team has two All-Stars and elite athletes across the board. They will be fine. But hey, if they lose to the Suns Sunday. Sound the alarms.

10/25 Nuggets @ Lakers Rapid Reactions

Final score: Lakers 121, Nuggets 114

Los Angeles Lakers

  • It seems like the panic and overreactions from the season-opening three-game skid are gone now. That’s not two wins in a row for the Lakers, both without Brandon Ingram and Rajon Rondo in the lineup. This was their first home victory, and it came against a previously undefeated Nuggets team that had been playing as well as any in the league. Now everyone can settle down.
  • OK, let’s not kid ourselves. Every Lakers game during the LeBron James era is going to be treated like a do-or-die playoff affair.
  • LeBron posted his first triple-double as a Laker with 28 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. He added three steals, but is still struggling from long range. LeBron made just 1-of-5 from three-point territory.
  • JaVale McGee (21 points, 7 rebounds) picked up two goaltending violations in the first quarter. Not sure if he was intentionally doing the intimidation thing that Patrick Ewing did at Georgetown, but the Nuggets did miss a lot of close shots throughout the game so it may have worked.
  • McGee has been using a Sky Hook lately that looks really good. Everyone’s hesitant to evoke the name of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but it’s hard not to think it given the uniform.
  • Lance Stephenson (12 points) had the most Lance Stephenson stretch in the second half. On one possession he was flying around at 110 miles per hour, hustling for an offensive rebound and wildly creating a turnover with his out-of-control offense. A bit later, he looked as smooth as ever when he calmly used a crossover to set up a clutch step-back three.
  • The Lakers are better when they shoot fewer three-pointers and set their minds to attack the basket. On this night, 29 of their 92 shot attempts were threes, and they also shot 23 free throws.
  • Johnathan Williams is going to earn more and more minutes if he keeps hustling and playing hard. His game is reminiscent of Tristan Thompson back when Tristan was hungry.
  • Lonzo Ball (12 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, 5 steals) seemed unsure of himself, and coach Luke Walton seemed unsure of what to do with Lonzo, during L.A.’s first two games. But with Rondo out of the lineup serving his suspension, Lonzo has been able to play more point guard and do what he does best. He looked entirely comfortable, confident and in his element on Thursday.

Denver Nuggets

  • The Nuggets suffered their first loss of the season. They looked on their way to a 5-0 start before L.A. went on a 17-4 run sparked by an energetic Staples Center crowd. The Nuggets are going to be good and look like a playoff team, but they still have to learn how to close games consistently, especially on the road.
  • Sometimes the Nuggets can over-pass and miss the opportunity for a good shot because they’re looking for an even better one. That may be a symptom of not having an established go-to guy whose mentality is to take over when a bucket is needed. Nikola Jokic is becoming that guy, but he’s not quite there yet.
  • Jokic finished with 24 points and 11 rebounds, but he committed six turnovers (next to just three assists) and missed a lot of shots close to the basket that should’ve been easy.
  • Jamal Murray (22 points, 8-17 FG) plays like he wants to be that go-to guy, but he can get a little too aggressive hunting his own shot.
  • Paul Millsap is too good to only have six points in 29 minutes. He’s a recent All-Star and an elder statesmen on this young Denver squad. He should be more of a presence out there. Millsap had a chance to make a big defensive stop late in the fourth quarter, but LeBron just overpowered him to get an easy layup.

 

 

10/25 Celtics vs Thunder Rapid Reactions

Final Score: Boston 101, OKC 95

Oklahoma City Thunder

  • Donovan changed up the starting lineup tonight. Not exactly the change Thunder fans were expecting, but Grant blended in nicely.
  • Can Ferguson do anything right offensively?
  • The defensive frenzy OKC put on display in the first half was nice to see. While Boston was simply missing some good looks OKC defended incredibly hard.
  • Now the third quarter was a different story. OKC went back to their old ways and were lazy defending the 3 point line. Boston absolutely tore them apart.
  • Russ didn’t shoot particularly well, but it was nice to see him shooting 3’s off the ball. He is clearly a little rusty. Only going to get better. 
  • The free throws continue to be a problem for this Thunder team. 14-25 on the night. Yikes!
  • Outside of the magical 3rd quarter in the opener PG hasn’t been great offensively. The All Star Small Forward had another poor shooting night going a measly 7-22.
  • This Thunder team has to adapt. They need to play a different kind of basketball. They don’t know who they are yet and until they do are going to continue to see more L’s pile up.

Who’s up: Jerami Grant, Hamidou Diallo, Patrick Patterson

Who’s Down: Paul George, Terrance Ferguson

Next Up: Sunday vs Suns

Boston Celtics

  • Boston needed a good performance coming into tonight’s game and the 16 point start was not exactly what I’d label a “good performance”.
  • This may be unnecessary, but I am going to say it anyway. I am NOT a fan of what Kyrie has going on with his hair right now.
  • A rough first half for Boston, but they outscored OKC 40-23 in the 3rd to take the lead going into the 4th.
  • These guys COULD NOT MISS in the third. Threes were flying from all over the court and Al Horford is really good at basketball.
  • Terry Rozier played some phenomenal defense tonight. He’s a great high motor guy who is relentless on both ends of the floor. 6th man of the year candidate for sure.
  • Marcus Morris has a habit of making big shots against OKC and he did so again tonight. He had 21 on the night and the biggest shot in the game. 
  • Boston made 10 more free throws than the Thunder on the night as well.
  • At what point does Boston become a little worried about Hayward? Just 5 points on 5 shots tonight.
  • Jayson Tatum is a stud. I am wondering how long before we call this Tatum’s team?Are we there already? Surely not, but the question does linger.

Who’s up: Marcus Morris, Terry Rozier, Jayson Tatum

Who’s Down: Gordon Hayward

Next Up: Saturday @ Pistons

How four 1st round picks would look in Minnesota

(photo cred YouTube)

I am sure many sports bloggers are going to make some joke about Woj bombs and the actual pipe bombs sent to prominent Democrats lately.

I, however, have some common sense and will not be one of those people.

But, I will still give some really quick-hitting points about the latest offer by the Houston Rockets to acquire Jimmy Butler. Check out what Woj tweeted:

How would this work? Isn’t there a rule about how many first round picks you can send in consecutive years. All good questions. First of all, The Stepien Rule prohibits teams from shipping off first round picks in consecutive years. That is hurdle number one, but Houston can jump over it.

Secondly, the picks have to abide by the Seven Year Rule stipulation. Bobby Marks of ESPN did a better job of explaining this than I could do. So, I will let him do the talking (writing) here.

The map is clear. Houston would most likely be sending over a package that included the 2019, 2021, 2023 and 2025 first round picks. My question: How do these picks align with the development of Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. Both players are locked up for the foreseeable future, as both former number one overall picks have either signed or agreed upon 5-year extensions.

Time for a chart

Andrew Wiggins           Age: 23                                      Karl-Anthony Towns              Age: 22

2019 pick                        Age: 24                                      2019 pick                                   Age: 23

2021 pick                        Age: 26                                      2021 pick                                   Age: 25

2023 pick                        Age: 28                                      2023 pick                                   Age: 27

2025 pick                        Age: 30                                      2025 pick                                   Age: 29

Time for a recap

When is a star considered to be in their prime? There is no true science to answer this question, although ages 25-30 seem to sound right. Sure, a player can perform well after and before that age (see James, LeBron.)

The question for Minnesota management (and fans, of course I have to shoutout armchair GMs!) is simple. Do these picks meet their team timeline?

Let us assume that the 2019 pick is some 19-year-old kid from UConn (duh, go Huskies.) in 2023, this kid would be close to or if not directly entering his prime at age 23. Wiggins would be in the last year of his contract, but entrenched in his peak star years, at least we hope. The same would go for KAT, except he would have more contract years remaining. This could be promising and something of a replication of what the Boston Celtics have tried to do.

Yet, the later picks will probably bring in draft picks that are better prospects, but less aligned with the team trajectory due to their presumably young age. Logically, the 2023 and 2025 Houston picks should be better than their 2019 and 2021 ones. Those years reflect a post-CP3 age and Harden will be starting the back 9 of his career, although probably still awesome.

Time for a question

It is a conundrum, isn’t it?

The later picks do not totally mesh well with the team’s timeline for its current studs. Yet, those 2023 and 2025 picks could be excellent. The 2019 and 2021 picks do mesh well with the rise of these two stars, but those picks could be late first rounders, which are often throws at the dart board. Decisions, decisions.

Of course, the personnel in this alleged deal matters as well. But, the picks are what is sexy here. So, what do you do if you are the general manager of the Minnesota Timberwolves?

10/24 Wizards @ Warriors Rapid Reactions

Final Score: Wizards 122, Warriors 144

Washington Wizards:

  • Same reaction, different game, right? Four games in, the Wizards own the worst rebounding differential in the NBA. Tonight, Washington had neither Dwight Howard or Ian Mahimi to start at center, technically giving Jason Smith the “start”, although he only saw 11 minutes. Maybe it’s Thomas Bryant time? I mean this team BADLY (and I repeat, BADLY) needs a defensive presence under the rim, or will continue to find themselves on the losing end of both the rebounding stats and the box score. Jeff Green, Markeiff Morris, and Jason Smith simply aren’t getting the job done, understandably.
  • The starters played low minutes tonight, a good call by head coach Scott Brooks after a long game in Portland and what is only the second game of a five game West Coast trip. Washington seemed to resist throwing in the towel until late in the third when Steph Curry caught fire. (Again) John Wall only played 27 minutes, and no other starter played more than that. While this may be an L, and a foreseeable one at that, one positive is that hopefully this gives the Wizards an extra edge for their next couple of games.
  • It felt helpless for this team tonight, didn’t it? Washington went into halftime with 71 points and STILL was down nine. It seemed like althroughout the first half the game went almost bucket for bucket. No real runs by this offense, just a bucket or two to keep them sitting eight or so points away. That was, until the third quarter- an entirely different story. This Wizards team kept the pace, with almost 100 points midway through the third, but man… Steph Curry. That’s all I have to say. It’s tough to be on pace to smash your highest scoring game this season and STILL be down considerably.

Play of the Game:  See below in the Warriors’ Play of the Game.

Golden State Warriors:

  • As a Wizards fan, my basketball fandom heart hurts a little everytime they play the Warriors. Similarly to when they played Toronto with Kahwi Leonard the other night, I think “*insert player Washington passed in the draft* could have been on this team.” But, instead we draft the likes of- well, I don’t even want to get into it. The pain is only a google search away. ANYWAYS, the Warriors deserve credit (which they get) for building such a juggernaut of a roster. Key players have stayed for years and the team focuses immensely on player development and chemistry. Some feel like they have to get to know new bench players every year for the team too, which is also true, but is another display of the roster brilliance. It just always works, and doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
  • Steph Curry and Kevin Durant were fantastic this evening. Steph was *this* close to beating his career high. Oracle doesn’t take much to get loud for in the first place, so you can imagine the atmosphere when Steph came within two of breaking the all-time threes record. (That he broke himself previously, twice) He even played efficiently driving to the basket, and it was absolutely his night. Durant made his presence known all over the court, with a couple of slams that got the crowd and the team going, as well as some beautiful fadeaway midrange shots against some flawless defense. The Warriors took advantage of some great switches and mismatches in the first half, but just simply heated up in the second half.
  • Draymond Green took a role that was both surprising and incredibly unselfish tonight. He played the role of facilitator, with 12 assists and only 5 points. With Steph and Klay both having the hot hand, Draymond took it upon himself to find a role best for the team tonight as opposed to finding his own shot and risk taking away the incredible flow the offense carried. This brand of unselfish basketball shows Golden State’s true potential, as sometimes individual performances seem to be prioritized, but that was not the case in this one.

Play of the Game: I’m gonna lay it to you straight, I don’t have one- for either team. This was the kind of game that if you’re a Warrior fan you LOVE (understandably) and if you’re a Wizards fan, you shake your head at. There seemed to be so many shots taken and so many makes that it’s hard to pick one. You could take ANY of Steph’s threes or Durant’s midrange beauties. For the Wizards- there were a few Bradley Beal makes that were sweet? Maybe a Keef 3 pointer or two? Regardless, this style of throw-it-up, defenseless basketball is tough to keep up with. That doesn’t make it a less entertaining game, but truly analyzing a game like this is harder. Although, maybe that’s because I’m on the East Coast- and tired.

10/24 Lakers @ Suns Rapid Reactions

Final Score: Lakers: 131, Suns: 113

Los Angeles Lakers:

  • GOOD NEWS, THE LAKERS FINALLY WON! Guess they don’t need Kobe to come back quite yet.
  • The Lakers were able to break 100 points before the fourth quarter for the first time this season. Which is a good sign. Their first two losses were within nine points, and their third was down to the wire and they only missed it by one point. Fortunately, they broke their losing streak and won by a sufficient (enough) margin.
  • Los Angeles’ starters have been impressive, considering Rajon Rondo and Brandon Ingram are out. Yeah, it obviously shook their game plan up a little bit having two strong starters out but the young guys have been making it work. Like I’ve said before, these guys just have a special dynamic going on mixing the youth with LeBron James’ veteran talent and knowledge.
  • Every single starter scored over 11 points tonight, and three of them grabbed over 6 rebounds. The Lakers are producing good numbers, and it’s great they finally got a win under their belt. Yet, they’re still learning and that’s been made very obvious since the start of the regular season. As long as every player continues to contribute numbers like they did tonight, they’ll start winning more and more.
  • LeBron James had a good night. He scored 19 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and had three steals. Josh Hart made it rain beyond the arc after going four-for-six, and also shot five-for-eight from the field. He ended the game with 15 points. Another player who had an impressive contribution was Lance Stephenson, he went 10-for-14 from the field, grabbed eight rebounds and scored 23 points in the Lakers first win of the regular season.

Phoenix Suns:

  • Tyson Chandler still plays basketball. Pretty good, too. The Suns have a pretty secure rotation at the center position. DeAndre Ayton, who starts ahead of Chandler, showed out tonight. Ayton ended the night with a double-double after dropping 22 points and grabbing 11 boards. The starter went 11-for-14 from the field. Chandler ended the night with 14 points, after playing only 14 minutes. Now that’s efficiency.
  • Jamal Crawford needs more court time. End of story. You have one of the best three-point shooters in the league–utilize him. Having him on the hardwood for 14 minutes didn’t do much for the team.
  • Devin Booker shot 50% from the field and finished the night out with 23 points as well as seven boards and seven assists. A decent night for Booker.
  • Both the Lakers and Suns had similar shooting percentages in all categories. Phoenix just needs to think quicker, the Lakers had them beat by the third quarter and were just all-around faster and smarter. The Suns need to get used to playing at the level of young players like Kuzma, Ball and Hart. The league is slowly but surely turning into a young mans game.

10/24 Jazz @ Rockets Rapid Reactions

Final Score: Jazz 100, Rockets 89

Utah Jazz:

  • There’s no debating Donovan Mitchell struggled mightily to start this season. He’s been forcing shots, playing wild at times, and hasn’t looked like he did in his rookie year. Tonight, he threw all that out the window, as he played with confidence and poise. Mitchell started off early in the game with a floater, pull-up three, and got to the free throw line with ease. He had 20 points at halftime, and finished with a game-high 38. Tonight was Spida’s eighth career 30 point game.
  • Rudy Gobert may be the rightful owner of the Defensive Player of the Year award, but his offensive post game still is in need of dire work. A few times tonight (and against Memphis) he struggled with the ball near the rim, looking quite awkward with what should be fairly easy shots. I have an easy solution for the big man: just dunk the ball.
  • Royce O’Neale and Dante Exum were used exclusively in last year’s playoff series to guard James Harden, and despite Harden’s total of 29 points, both guys continued to defend him well when on the floor. Those two matchups are definitely something to keep an eye on in future games between these teams.
  • I don’t really know what to say about Ricky Rubio. HIs start to the season has been absolutely dismal. He had six assists tonight, but also six turnovers and shot 1-8 from the field. Any inconsistencies that may show with Utah’s starting unit will first and foremost point to the play of Rubio.

 

Houston Rockets:

  • A key factor heading into tonight’s game was the absence of Chris Paul due to the scuffle at Staples on Saturday night. Houston wasn’t only down CP3 but also Marquese Chriss, Brandon Knight, and Nene. Paul was of course the biggest loss of the bunch, as Houston looked out of sorts more than a few times in this game without him. Harden heading to the locker room with five minutes to go in the 4th all but eliminated the Rockets chances of having a chance late in the game.
  • Harden was in early foul trouble, but the MVP did MVP things with 29 points, five rebounds, and seven assists. He did however have seven turnovers, likely as a result of losing CP3 and having to be in more unwelcoming situations with Utah’s defense. Harden left the game with an unfortunate injury late in the 4th quarter, which is something to watch for Houston coming up.
  • In a game where you’re missing a key player like CP3, it’s important to have other guys step up. Tonight for Houston Carmelo Anthony did just that with 22 points on 9-17 shooting. Eric Gordon, on the other hand, struggled from the field, shooting 5-21 for 11 points.
  • It’s probably fair to say free throws were lopsided in this game. Entering tonight Utah ranked first in the league in getting to the free throw stripe, whereas Houston was 14th. That trend continued as the Jazz shot a total of 28 free throws to the Rockets’ 14.

10/24 Timberwolves @ Raptors Rapid Reactions

Timberwolves and Raptors

Final Score: Raptors: 112, Timberwolves: 105

Timberwolves:

  • Confusing game all-around for Minnesota. In some ways, the Wolves stood in with Toronto on their own court, but in this league, it’s not about hanging with teams. It was a game of runs, and in the end, the Timberwolves didn’t have a big enough fourth quarter run in them.
  • The Timberwolves shot very well from deep. Minnesota was 15-30 from three. The entire team was hot from downtown. Butler led the way by going 4-7 from three, and Tolliver connected on 3-5 triples from deep. In the end, the three-point barrage wasn’t enough to get Minnesota the win, but it’s something to build on.
  • Jimmy Butler was brutal from the free-throw line. What happens in this game if Butler knocks down his foul shots? Butler was 5-10 from the line, where he is a career 83.4% shooter. Butler has recorded 20 points in each game he’s played in this season, but he could’ve done a lot more damage tonight.
  • Karl-Anthony Towns looked like he didn’t want to be on the court tonight. Towns has been very active so far this season, but tonight was a different story. KAT was a no-show on offense and wasn’t in the flow of the game. Towns’ offensive start to the season has to be a major concern going forward.
  • Josh Okogie had an interesting game. There is no doubting Okogie’s ability on the defensive end of the court. He is already an elite player on that end of the court. It’s the offensive end where Okogie is a huge question mark. Okogie started the game by shooting 0-9 from the field, forcing too many shots up. Then, Okogie caught fire, by hitting two straight threes and throwing down a massive putback. Okogie finished 4-14 from the field. If Okogie can learn when to shoot the ball and when to give it up, it will make him much more valuable to Minnesota.

Raptors:

  • This Toronto team is legit. I know, it’s been said before, but this year is truly different. With Kawhi Leonard in, and LeBron and out of the East, the Raptors have as good of a shot at going to the NBA Finals as any Eastern Conference team.
  • Kawhi Leonard is back. After missing almost a full year of basketball, Leonard looks like he hasn’t missed a step. Leonard recorded 35 points on 15-23 shooting from the field tonight, ridiculous efficiency. If Leonard continues to perform at this high of a level, he will definitely be in the MVP conversation at the end of the season.
  • Jonas Valanciunas provided a huge punch off the bench. Valanciunas recorded 16 points and 9 rebounds off the bench to lead Toronto’s bench scoring. Playing in just 20 minutes, 5 of the 9 rebounds Valanciunas grabbed were offensive rebounds.
  • The Raptors are the Spurs of the East. Their ball movement is unmatched. Almost everyone on their team is willing to make the extra pass. This team-centered basketball can take them very far, just ask San Antonio.