How did Timberwolves maul Mavericks so easily in NBA preseason opener?

Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports /

The NBA is back, and the Minnesota Timberwolves certainly seem to be putting the rest of the league on notice that they are no longer willing to be nice guys this season.

Hey, if you wanted proof that the Minnesota Timberwolves are loaded for bear for the 2023-24 NBA season, seeing is believing, right? In the first NBA preseason game, the Minnesota Timberwolves mauled the Dallas Mavericks to buoy plenty of optimism for Timberwolves fans in a debut that addressed many of the concerns about the team’s vulnerability from the 2022-23 NBA season.

Of course, this was just a dress rehearsal. And yes, there is a lot of chemistry, communication, and coordination to establish among the entire array of new faces on this Timberwolves roster. But winning in such a dominating fashion right out of the gates is solid stuff.

By the end of this one, the Timberwolves played 15 of 21 players, never trailed in this game, and were able to get on or about 20 minutes of playing time for the team’s five starters. But this was a team that boasts a lot of strength on the roster, and it showed in this one. Of the 15 players who saw action in the first preseason game of the NBA season, only seven players on the Timberwolves roster emerged from this one with a (+/-) rating in the negative, and all but one of those players were limited in action to cleaning up the game in the fourth quarter.

Timberwolves take over from the opening tip-off

From the opening tip-off, the Minnesota Timberwolves took control of the game. PF Karl-Anthony Towns sank his first shot, a three-pointer, to give the Timberwolves the lead in the game that this team would never relinquish. The game would close with five Timberwolves players ending by scoring 10+ points.  Three of those top scorers would do so coming off the Timberwolves bench, including:

C/PF Naz Reid with 16 points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes
G Shake Milton with 12 points, four rebounds, and one assist in 20 minutes
C Luka Garza with 12 points and six rebounds in 11 minutes.

Rookie Leonard Miller saw some action, putting up four points, three rebounds, and one block in ten minutes of play. Likewise, veteran forward Troy Brown Jr. certainly delivered in this one. In 18 minutes of play, he put up six points, seven rebounds, one assist, and shot an efficient 40 percent from three-point range.

How did the Timberwolves win so easily?

But the star of all newcomers had to be guard Shake Milton, who leveraged 20 minutes of playing time into 12 points, four rebounds, one assist, and one steal while shooting 66.7 percent from the perimeter.

This was just a preseason victory, yes. And preseason games are safe harbors when it comes to trialing various player combinations, roles, plays, and even the amount of minutes played. Still, all of that being said, the Minnesota Timberwolves seem to be far more focused, seamlessly working together without any of the clumsy awkwardness that seemed to be the Wolves’ trademark through much of the 2022-23 NBA season.

Few if any NBA analysts project much success for the Minnesota Timberwolves this season. But the Timberwolves pretty much mauled the Mavericks in this one, and the Mavericks are a consensus projected participant in the 2024 NBA Playoffs.

I like the Timberwolves’ chances this season and their first game has confirmed what I suspect will be a solid if not highlight reel type of season for the team.  The Minnesota Timberwolves and the Dallas Mavericks will be back at it on Saturday, October 7, 2023, at 11:00 am CT.  If you can’t watch that one, be sure to stop by as we will give updates and summaries of the Timberwolves once more.

The Timberwolves bullied the Mavericks by outrebounding, outhustling in the paint, better ball movement, and better perimeter presence. Hopefully, that is the harbinger of things to come for the Wolves season.

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