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One Weird Trick The Minnesota Timberwolves Used To Lose Game 1

Photo: Tim Warner (Getty)

Ah, hmm, uh:

Seems bad!

Last night’s Game 1 probably represented the Minnesota Timberwolves’ best shot at stealing a road game, and possibly of getting even a single win in their first-round series against the top-seeded Houston Rockets. And while presumptive MVP James Harden was going off for 44 points on 26 shots for Houston—the league’s best team trusting its best player to deliver in the most important game of its season so far—Minnesota’s two stars, uh, well, not so much. Karl-Anthony Towns and Jimmy Butler, not only the Wolves’ best players but by miles their most productive engines of offense, combined for 21 points on 20 shots. The Timberwolves lost by three. That is not gonna do it.

If you could start from a desired outcome and gameplan backward to a defensive scheme for beating the Timberwolves, it would begin with Derrick Rose and Gorgui Dieng playing larger roles in Minnesota’s offense than Karl-Anthony Towns and Jimmy Butler, and you’d do just about anything to make that happen, up to and including letting a large bird of prey fly off with your firstborn child. To the extent those grisly usage numbers reflect anything the Rockets did defensively to keep the action away from Towns and Butler, kudos to them.

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On the other hand, maybe the Wolves could just, like, chuck the ball down to Towns on the block every now and again and let him cook? It could not possibly be a worse idea than letting Derrick Rose soak up entire possessions with dead-end perimeter dribbling and spasmodic lurches toward the rim. That’s the worst idea I can think of!

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