Rambling On is Minnesota sports talk for the common fan. Daily content and conversation, on Twitter and Facebook.
Our three weekly Minnesota Sports Ramble blogs are released on Tuesday (Vikings), Wednesday (Wild), and Friday (Timberwolves).
An 0-3 skid against tough Western Conference opponents, Okogie, Wiggins surging, Rose, and more are discussed this week. As usual, Rambling On god-king Erik Ritland interviews Wolves analyst Beartrap McManus.
Thanks for your support!
Since we last spoke, the Wolves have gone 0-3 against challenging Western Conference opponents. We'll get into the individual games, but is there any over-arching themes that you see contributed to their losses? Does losing to good competition concern you about where the team is?
Not really. The Western Conference is loaded and all three losses were against quality teams. They played well against Golden State and the Portland game could’ve gone either way, but they were just outworked in Sacramento, making that the most disappointing loss for me. If they can’t get a win in Phoenix I’ll be worried, but they’ve played pretty well during a tough road trip so far.
After giving Derrick Rose some credit, he has seemed to regress a little. He's getting criticized for taking too many shots. Is that an accurate criticism? Could he be doing more? Is he being used as well as he could be?
Him taking too many shots was an accurate criticism when he was playing well, he just made more of them. He could certainly do more to play within himself and recognize that his physical abilities have diminished. He's best as a facilitator.
Wiggins continues his upswing. Is there anything different fundamentally that you're noticing about the change that could be long-term?
With Wiggins, it’s all about his level of mental engagement. If he starts a game hustling for defensive position, loose balls, and rebounds, and attacks the basket instead of pulling up for dumb, long twos, he usually plays well. He can often affect the game positively when he plays like that, even if he’s not scoring. It’s been nice to see more of that from him as of late, but we’ve seen stretches of inspired play from him before that haven’t been sustained.
With Covington injured, Josh Okogie got more playing time to fill in during the Wolves 113-105 loss in Portland. What did you think of his performance? Of the Wolves performance in that game in general?
Josh played well in his limited minutes and it’s encouraging to see Thibs find ways to get him out there, even if it’s just a result of RoCo’s injury. It’d be great to see him get some more minutes at shooting guard alongside Rose, especially if Tyus Jones continues to play as poorly as he has.
It was another game that the Wolves played well in, coming back to tie it up before a couple really good players hit some tough shots to put it out of reach for them. I would’ve loved to see them get that win, but not a bad performance from them overall.
Although they're dealing with their own issues, it's never terribly surprising to lose to the Golden State Warriors on the road. Other than the Warriors simply being a better team, what happened?
The Wolves played great after digging themselves into an early hole. It’s tough to compete when the other team is regularly scoring three points to your two, and that is largely what it came down to..
More concerning, the Wolves defense took a step back in their 141-130 loss to the Sacramento Kings. Your thoughts on that game?
The Wolves have struggled all year at dictating pace and that was the case with this game. The Kings wanted to play fast and they did, and the Wolves offense couldn’t keep up. It could have turned out differently if they’d focused on playing efficient half-court offense instead of trying to run with Sacramento.
Going 0-3 on this road trip so far has been a bit discouraging and obviously every game is going to count if the playoff race in the West is anywhere near as close as it was last year (and it’s looking to be even closer this season). But none of the losses were truly terrible or raised any serious cause for alarm with me. I’m interested to see how they bounce back with what should be an easy game against the Suns, a re-match with the Kings at home, and a very winnable game against Detroit after that.
Beartrap McManus is an NBA and Timberwolves expert. He has been a life coach for Rambling On god-king Erik Ritland since before time, a consultant for Rambling On since its founding, and Timberwolves analyst beginning in Series Five. He resides with his wife and twelve kids in Hurley, Wisconsin, where his wife owns a popular supper club.