Jeff Teague

30 teams in 30 days: New faces have T-Wolves poised to end playoff drought

minnesota-timberwolves-jimmy-butler-30-teams-in-30-days.jpg

30 teams in 30 days: New faces have T-Wolves poised to end playoff drought

We’ll take a look at all 30 teams in the next 30 days as they prepare for the 2017-2018 regular season, which is when the real fireworks begin! Today's team: The Minnesota Timberwolves. 
 

The days of being young, on-the-rise Timberpups seem to be giving way to a more experienced, battle-tested group that should be good enough to get the Minnesota Timberwolves in the playoffs this season after more than a decade.
 
“We knew going into the offseason we had a lot of holes to fill,” Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau, told CSNNE.com. “We were pleased with our young players have developed. We wanted to surround them with the right kind of players.”

Thibodeau, who doubles as the team’s president of basketball operations, made one of the biggest offseason splashes in trading for one of his former players in Chicago, Jimmy Butler.
 
Not only did Minnesota add one of the best two-way players in the NBA, but a bona fide leader for a team that’s long on talent but painfully shallow when it comes to experience in this league.
 
“He’s just entering his prime,” Thibodeau said of Butler. “He’s a complete player, plays both sides of the ball. And his veteran leadership … he’s already gone through a lot of the things Karl [Anthony-Towns] and Andrew [Wiggins] are just starting to go through. That’ll be very beneficial to those two guys.”
 
Indeed, Towns and Wiggins showed great promise last season.
 
But the lack of experience Thibodeau spoke of really stood out at the absolute worst time – the fourth quarter - in a lot of games.

Of those 14 teams that didn't make the NBA playoffs last season, only Charlotte (14) and Philadelphia (14) blew more leads going into the fourth quarter of games, than Minnesota (12).
 
“We definitely have to do a better job of finishing games, for sure,” said Thibodeau, a former Celtics assistant coach. “I think having more guys who have been in those situations, found success in those situations, is really going to help us, hopefully, get over the hump this season.”
 
In addition to Butler, the Timberwolves added point guard Jeff Teague and one of the game’s all-time great sixth men in Jamal Crawford.
  
It all adds up to a Timberwolves team that’s growing up before our eyes, a team that’s poised to end a 13-year playoff drought.
 
Key free agent/draft/trade additions: Jimmy Butler (Chicago); Jeff Teague (Indiana); Jamal Crawford (Atlanta); Taj Gibson (Oklahoma City).
 
Key losses: Ricky Rubio (Utah); Zach LaVine (Chicago); Kris Dunn (Chicago).
 
Rookies of note: Justin Patton.
 
Expectations:
50-32 (2nd in the Northwest Division, fifth in the West).
 

Top 10 NBA offseason additions

nba_top_10_offseason_additions_073017.jpg

Top 10 NBA offseason additions

A. Sherrod Blakely looks at 10 players who changed teams this offseason that will be looked upon to deliver in a big way for their new team

Click here to view the gallery

Stars, studs and duds: Thomas powers through injury, scores 23 in Celtics 105-99 win

Stars, studs and duds: Thomas powers through injury, scores 23 in Celtics 105-99 win

Isaiah Thomas went into Saturday’s game with a swollen left middle figure injury from the night before that you could see was a problem for Thomas most of the night.

But in the fourth quarter, injury or no injury, Thomas was determined to come through for the Celtics. 

That’s exactly what he did, scoring 12 of Boston’s 14 points and the final 8 in leading the Celtics to a 105-99 victory over Indiana. 

Thomas, who missed all four of his shots in the first half, finished with a game-high 23 points. 

“That’s what the game is all about,” said Boston’s Avery Bradley. “In the fourth quarter, he does a lot of other things for our team as far as creating shots for other people and his leadership.”

Thomas said he thought the injury occurred in the third quarter of Boston’s blowout win against New York on Friday night. 

Despite feeling the pain on every shot he took, Thomas said he has no plans of sitting out Monday’s game at New Orleans. 

“I‘m gonna play,” said Thomas who had X-rays taken that came back negative. “I just have to figure out how to shoot. I couldn’t feel the ball (on Saturday) so I didn’t shoot it as good or as much as I (usually) do. For the next couple of days, figure out what I can do and adjust my shot and get comfortable with it until the swelling goes down.”

Thomas generated a lot of his offense from the free throw line, which he said he’s already figured out how to shoot from there. 

But as much as it pained him physically when he took shots, it would have hurt even more if he couldn’t come through for his team in the decisive fourth quarter. 

“That’s what I dream of,” Thomas said. “When the game’s on the line I want the ball in my hand no matter the situation is. And I know my team wants me to have the ball in my hands. If i’m out there not being myself I’m hurting my team. My guys put me in position that fourth quarter to be aggressive, come off screens, try to make plays. I just took what the defense gave me.”

And in doing so, helped propel the Celtics (5-4) to a big road win. 

“Isaiah was fortunate enough to make some shots in the fourth quarter and it really helped our team finish the game out,” Bradley said.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Saturday night’s game:

STARS

Isaiah Thomas: A sprained left middle finger injury certainly made life tougher than usual for Thomas, but the Celtics’ leading scorer stepped up when they needed him most. Thomas had 12 of his team-high 23 points in the fourth quarter after missing all four of his field goal attempts in the first half.

Avery Bradley: it was once again another solid performance for Bradley who had 13 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals all the while guarding the best perimeter scorer. 

Myles Turner: One of the most promising young big men in the NBA, Turner continues to turn heads with his knack for scoring, rebounding and playing good defense. He finished Saturday’s game with 17 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 blocked shots.

STUDS

James Young:  The last man on the roster came up with a first-rate performance that was one of the keys to Boston’s victory. Young scored a season-high 12 points (one shy of tying his career high) on 5-for-6 shooting, not to mention a bunch of hustle plays that Boston absolutely had to have to get the win. 

Jeff Teague: Boston did a good job of making it a rough night for Teague in terms of shooting from the field (4-for-15). But he did manage to get to the free throw line a lot, which helped him finish with a team-high 20 points before he fouled out in the fourth. 

Kelly Olynyk: You wouldn’t know this guy has played three games after having been out of action for six months prior to that. Saturday was another strong night for the 7-footer who scored 16 points to go with 6 rebounds and 4 assists.

DUDS

Boston’s First Quarter Defense: Boston once again struggled to get stops in the first quarter. Indiana shot 56.5 percent from the floor in the first quarter which helped propel them to a 31-24 lead after the game’s first 12 minutes.