Minnesota Timberwolves: 3 takeaways from preseason win over LA Clippers

Minnesota Timberwolves, Karl-Anthony Towns.(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Minnesota Timberwolves, Karl-Anthony Towns.(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /

Another game, another victory, as the Minnesota Timberwolves, defeated the LA Clippers for their third win in as many games. It wasn’t always pretty, and not everything went according to plan, but the basis for what Chris Finch and the Timberwolves roster are looking to build this year is clearly in place.

As with all games, there are good moments, and moments that leave you scratching your head like a child with lice. Then there are the breathtaking moments such as the Anthony Edwards dunk through the middle, and laughable moments such as the defensive possession in the first quarter when numerous players arguably committed a kicked-ball violation but it went unpenalized.

The good, the bad, the ugly – a typical Timberwolves’ performance, but as has been this case throughout the preseason, there was also “the promising” and that’s what we will be focusing on in today’s takeaways.

Takeaway No. 1 from Minnesota Timberwolves preseason win over Clippers

Egalitarian offense. It’s not always the right brand of basketball, but it’s certainly one of the most entertaining. Against the LA Clippers, we saw the Wolves share the rock with a decisiveness that lead to some easy opportunities for cutters or shooters lifting or curling over pin-downs. Selfless play in this manner often leads to quicker possessions, along with the opportunity to attack in a clinical manner.

Against the Clippers, six Timberwolves players finished the night in double-digit scoring while notching 31 assists as a unit. D’Angelo Russell has displayed a more team-first mentality at times this preseason, with his nine assist night being the culmination of his diversified offensive approach – he looks a different player from what we’ve seen thus far.

However, with all the additional ball movement and selfless play, there’s a downside to what we saw against the Clippers. Turnovers, 15 turnovers is higher than one would like, despite the improvement on offense, but that should eradicate itself as the team works the rust off and becomes more accustomed to their new offensive approach.

Finally, it’s clear that the Timberwolves have an offensive hierarchy, and you shouldn’t expect the likes of Anthony Edwards, Russell, or Karl-Anthony Towns to be looking off their own shots. But when the primary offensive option is taken away by the defense, it looks as though the Wolves offense will trust their rotation players to come up with the goods.

Takeaway No. 2 from Minnesota Timberwolves preseason win over Clippers

A primary takeaway from this preseason has been the improvement on defense, especially in terms of the pressure the Timberwolves are applying in the half-court. Against the Clippers, we saw numerous moments of intelligence from help defenders and a plethora of moments when a Timberwolves defense would force turnovers or bad shot attempts. In short, the Wolves are stifling their opponents.

We’ve seen improvements from numerous players on the defensive end, not just Edwards. In fact, some of Town’s rotations from the weakside have been great! As has the big-mans perimeter defense, heck, he even operated in some show defense to begin the game.

Obviously, the team will rely on tone setters Patrick Beverley and Taurean Prince to ensure the new defensive standards don’t slip, but after three games of preseason basketball, everything is trending in the right direction.

Takeaway No. 3 from Minnesota Timberwolves preseason win over Clippers

When you’re moving the ball at pace, half-court creation becomes less of an emphasis, but the nature of the NBA means it still remains a vital aspect of a team’s ability to get buckets. Towns will inevitably get his post-touches and we’re seeing Chris Finch likes to use the big-man as an offensive fulcrum in the team’s elbow series, but when the ball is on the perimeter we’re seeing a bevy of different sets to create reliable offense.

From dribble-drive penetrations leading to a kick-out, to pistol and get actions, the Timberwolves were a tough nut to crack for the Clippers’ defense. With the explosiveness of Edwards and the incredible skill of Towns, the Wolves have two perimeter creators who can generate offense out of broken plays or from offensive sets. Add in the growing veteran poise of Russell, and sprinkle some youthful exuberance from the likes of Jayden McDaniels and there’s no stopping this Timberwolves team when things are clicking.

Chris Finch has proven himself to be an adept X’s and O’s coach, who often blends one set into another to develop offensive advantages and/or mismatches, and against the Clippers, we got a glimpse into the team deep bag.

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The Timberwolves will play their final preseason game on Friday against the Brooklyn Nets before moving on to regular season basketball.