Remember when everyone was talking about the Timberwolves being a sleeper team in the NBA? That was just two weeks ago but feels like a dozen years ago the way Tom Thibodeau's team has stumbled to a 1-5 record.
The latest loss was Tuesday's 119-110 defeeat in Brooklyn. Andrew Wiggins had a career high 36 points with 8 rebounds and he was 6-of-7 on 3-pointers – all for naught.
The Wolves are ranked 16th in scoring offense and defense, but they're 29th in opponents field goal percentage. Teams are shooting 47.3 percent against them. Clearly, offense isn't Minnesota's issue.
"Unless we correct the defensive end, it's going to be a struggle," Thibodeau said after losing to Brooklyn, via ESPN. "That has to become a priority by everyone, otherwise nothing positive is going to happen."
NBA writer Zach Harper, via his website AWolfAmongWolves.com, broke down the Wolves' defensive struggles like this.
What’s been especially surprising are the long stretches where the Wolves’ defense breaks down completely, primarily in third quarters. That wasn’t the case in Brooklyn – Minnesota managed to lose the third by just three points – but the Nets shot 62% in the first half, and 56% from three. For the season, the Wolves have the fourth-worst mark in the league defending the rim.
Harper thinks a solution is a few days away when Ricky Rubio returns from a sprained elbow. Rubio might be the only guard on the team capable of slowing down guards attacking the rim.
Aside from disastrous third quarters (the Wolves only got outscored by 3 in the third against Brooklyn), the Wolves are doing really well in a lot of areas:
- Rebounding differential – 6th
- Offensive rebounds per game - 2nd
- Offensive rebounds allowed per game - 6th
- Field goal percentage - 12th
- 3-point percentage - 4th
Other areas of concern are free throws and assists. The Wolves are 21st in the league at just 73.9 percent on free throws and 24th in the league in assists.
Bottom line. The Wolves need to pick up some wins and do so quickly because the schedule after Thanksgiving gets very difficult.
Up next, the Wolves play the Magic in Orlando at 6 p.m. Wednesday.