The Timberwolves are rapidly moving towards the quarter-mark of the regular season and an abysmal 5-12 is not what they had in mind when they remade their organization in the image of Thibs. The hard-charging general was supposed to bring order and discipline to the young Wolves, squeezing out every last drop of effort in willing them to a major leap forward from their promising 29-win season last year. Preseason pundits made Minnesota was a fashionable pick in NBA circles to a hungry playoff team that no one wanted to face in the first round.
But a funny thing happened on the way to respectability. Minnesota has melted down time and again the second half of games in ways that look like they swapped uniforms with a high school team at halftime. Even though it looked “better” last night in their last to the Jazz, it was an 11-0 4th quarter run that decided the game late.
The easy scapegoat is to blame a young team that loses focus, a refrain Sam Mitchell used often last year and Thibs is making use of this year. But in a game of constant micro-adjustments, halftime gives the coaching staffs of each team an extended time to regroup and make some of the subtle changes necessary to get that edge. So is Thibs getting outcoached early in the season?
It’s far too early to make that assessment, but in giving Thibs the keys to the kingdom, Wolves brass better hope their new man can figure out how to right the ship. All dozen eggs are in this basket and Minnesota has a very short time to convince their budding superstars their life and future belongs in our cold tundra. Ricky Rubio is already hinting that it’s time to leave, and while his departure is not a huge loss, it can take away from the momentum of Big KAT, Wig, Lavine, and Dunn. All the pieces are in place, so if this one doesn’t work out……well…..hmm…..will it ever work?
Desperation is too strong, but the Wolves would really benefit from an extended winning stretch of, say, seven of their next 10 to start edging back towards .500 and get some positivity going into the New Year. Getting ahold of the second half will translate to just such a stretch, a fact Thibs knows full well.
“You never let your guard down and you have to strive to be a 48-minute team and we’re not doing that right now. We have to get back in it, we got to work, we got to concentrate then improve.”
Yes. Do that. And we’ll be back in vogue in no time.