So coach Tom Thibodeau went to work within the offseason trying to diagnose the problems that prevented the Wolves from closing video games out.
The Timberwolves blew leads in quite a lot of methods. They “ran the entire gamut” as Thibodeau put it, making pricey errors in late-recreation conditions, blowing massive leads early and watching massive leads dissipate within the fourth quarter.
Thibodeau did discover a couple of widespread denominators, nevertheless.
“I went via these video games and stored coming again to the toughness, enjoying sensible down the stretch and being aggressive,” Thibodeau stated.
Admitting you have got an issue is step one to restoration, however none of these points qualify as straightforward fixes. So Thibodeau did his greatest to deal with them with the roster strikes.
“And we felt by including the blokes we did, that’ll assist,” he stated.
Jeff Teague, Jamal Crawford, Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler are all aggressive, which is an enormous cause why they’ve all gained so typically all through their careers.
Enjoying sensible down the stretch is one thing that may be linked to expertise. There is a sure approach to shut video games out, and final yr’s younger Timberwolves roster clearly did not know what it was.
As Crawford laid out the formulation this week, he stated groups “cannot play to not lose” late.
“It’s a must to do what you probably did to type of get the lead,” he stated. “I feel, typically, you generally tend to type of get cautious and type of sluggish issues up, and different groups really feel that. They’re like, ‘Ah, they’re nervous.'”
There was no workforce that match that invoice higher than Minnesota final season. The Wolves typically appeared like they have been ready for the primary dangerous factor to happen, then the avalanche started and the opposing group’s comeback was on. Minnesota compounded dangerous photographs with turnovers, and earlier than you knew it, the Wolves, who typically had led all recreation, have been trailing when it mattered most.
“You do not need to take dangerous photographs or something,” Crawford stated, “however you need to keep aggressive.”
Then there’s the toughness, which once more all of this summer time’s veteran additions usher in some side, none extra so than Butler. His profession has been outlined by his toughness and the sting he brings to the ground, notably when it issues most.
Butler averaged four.three factors a recreation final yr within the ultimate 5 minutes of video games the place the margin was 5 factors or much less, the third-greatest mark within the league behind solely Russell Westbrook and Isaiah Thomas. The Timberwolves’ new All-NBA wing is extensively thought-about to be one of many elite closers on each ends of the ground.
“If you take a look at clutch capturing,…