Vengeance in Minnesota?

Essentials

  • Teams: Detroit Pistons (25-51) at Minnesota Timberwolves (28-47)
  • Date: April 6, 2013
  • Time: 8:00 p.m.
  • Television: FSD

What to look for

After winning back-to-back games against the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks, the Minnesota Timberwolves were humbled last night at home by the Toronto Raptors.

The Wolves’ diminutive backcourt got taken advantage of.

DeMar DeRozan’s eyes lit up for most of the night with Luke Ridnour defending him. The Raptors’ highflyer posted up his defender and also showed tremendous comfort in his jump shots given that he knew it wouldn’t be blocked.

DeRozan scored 25 points on 12-for-23 field goal shooting.

The contest was quite a contrast in offensive philosophies. Toronto relied mostly on isolations for both DeRozan and Gay in crunch time to close out the game.

Minnesota on the other hand ran their offense and manufactured some quality looks.

The Wolves set some interior screens for Nikola Pekovic who was simply a brute force on the block. The beauty in Rick Adelman’s offense is the multiple counters. His plays are designed to take advantage of all the defensive adjustments opponents make.

Against the Raptors last night, straight post ups for Pekovic also had a quick counter for an aggressive off-ball double team. Indeed, when a perimeter player stood in the path of the Wolves’ center to prevent him from catching the ball, Ricky Rubio would either run a rapid pick-and-roll with the free perimeter player or have him set a screen for another player, thus creating motion on the court.

Rubio and company  almost came away with the win. However, Toronto had the one thing — and they actually had two of them — that Minnesota did not: shot creators and makers.

Rubio was terrific at getting Pekovic the ball on the interior with good scoring opportunities, but once the Raptors allocated some extra defensive attention his way, Adelman’s unit had some issues putting points on the board late.

The Wolves just don’t have any quality shooters on the roster and they lack players capable of creating shots for themselves against tough defense. This was quite evident last night as Rubio was tasked with steering the offense and creating shots late.

This explains why the Wolves are only scoring 96.7 points per 100 possessions in the clutch (defined as last five minutes of the game with scoring margin within five points or less) per NBA.com’s advanced stats tool. That figure is among the worst in the league this season.

The last time the Detroit Pistons faced off against the Wolves, they were blown out at home. However, if the contest this evening is close with five minutes left, Rodney Stuckey and company should have an advantage.

By using Greg Monroe at the elbows, Detroit could potentially invert their offense and post up Stuckey especially if defended by J.J. Barea or Ridnour.

Granted, the Pistons are subpar in terms of late game execution, but they might just have better horses than the Timberwolves, and it could prove to be the difference.

Read about the Timberwolves

A Wolf Among Wolves.

Statistical support provided by NBA.com.

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Tags: Minnesota Timberwolves THN-MIN

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