After suffering three straight losses to the San Antonio Spurs, Sacramento Kings and Toronto Raptors, the Minnesota Timberwolves came away with a much needed victory over the Utah Jazz this past Saturday. Now with a solid win under their belt, the Timberwolves are set to take on the Jazz Tuesday evening for a second time in four days. Although Kevin Love and the Timberwolves prevailed over the Jazz with ease in Saturday night’s match-up, the team needs to focus on a few keys to make sure that they get back on the right track.
The first key for the Timberwolves is getting Kevin Love out of his current scoring slump. Over the last five games, Love has averaged only 18.2 points per game, which may explain why the Timberwolves have only broken the 100 point barrier twice in the last week. In today’s league, it is imperative for teams to put up big numbers on the offensive end due to the fact that team defense has become far less of a priority these days. Love’s recent scoring drought would not be of great concern if the Timberwolves had another bonafide scorer to pick up some of the slack. Although Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin have certainly stepped their offensive games up as of late, they are not consistent enough to be Love’s safety net game in and game out. In short, Love needs to revamp his offensive game and increase his scoring output to the mid-to-high twenties for the Timberwolves to have a realistic shot at making the playoffs.
The second key for the Timberwolves is committing to controlling the glass as had done so well in the early stages of this NBA season. During their most recent three game skid, the Timberwolves averaged a mere 43 rebounds per contest. What is even more concerning is that Pekovic, who averages right around 10 rebounds per game, did not put up more than 8 rebounds in any of the three loses. Love’s rebounding numbers, although not as drastic, have been down lately as well. The Timberwolves’ two most potent weapons this season have been Love’s ability to score at will and their dominance on the boards. The team needs to stay focused on maintaining their position as one of the best rebounding teams in the league.
The third and final key for the Timberwolves is committing themselves to a balanced scoring attack. Even though Love is one of the best scorers in the league, he is not capable of having all of the offensive responsibilities rest on his shoulders. In last Saturday’s impressive win over the Jazz, the Timberwolves showcased a very balanced scoring assault with four players in double digits. Love chipped in a mediocre 18 points, but the team was still able to put up a total of 98 points due to 27 points coming from Pekovic, 20 from Martin, and 10 from Shved off the bench. Although Love has shown that he is more than capable of taking over any given game offensively, other players need to step up and contribute on the offensive end of the floor to ensure long term success.
The Timberwolves currently find themselves with a below .500 (19-21) record, which has them just outside of the playoff picture. Focusing on these three keys will hopefully turn things around for the young team and get them back on track for the second half of the season. The Timberwolves prepare themselves for a second consecutive game against the Utah Jazz tonight and look to showcase another dominant performance.
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