The Minnesota Timberwolves came in to opening night with a lot of momentum working in their favor. The Wolves had won all five of their preseason contests and seemed to be hitting a stride heading into the regular season.
Unfortunately, that all unraveled during their loss to the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night. Minnesota exhibited inconsistent execution on both ends of the floor and lost a game that turned into something of a defensive battle, 97-94.
This opening night loss, while far from backbreaking, is still a pretty big disappointment. The Timberwolves were facing an inferior team and had some extra motivation to get off to a strong start this season. Instead, they will be starting the season behind a game.
During what became Minnesota’s 19th consecutive loss in the city of Toronto, the Wolves showed one of their most glaring issues at the current juncture: inability to defend the three.
Not closing out on three-point shooters cost the Timberwolves this game
From the opening tip, the Timberwolves were slow to close out on shooters. In the first 30 seconds of the game, Minnesota failed to adjust on defense and allowed the Raptors to gather two offensive rebounds and attempt three shots from beyond the arc.
Giving any NBA team three tries at scoring is a surefire way to find yourself behind on the scoreboard, and the Wolves’ mistakes on the opening possession allowed Pascal Siakam to nail his three-point try and give Toronto the 3-0 edge to start the game.
This unfortunately set the tone for the rest of the night, as Minnesota allowed the Raptors to shoot 14-for-35 (40%) from three as a team. It was a disappointing development, and one that could cause the Timberwolves major trouble if they do not clean it up quickly.
The good news is that this was just one game. Even the most talented teams have outliers, especially when the nerves and jitters of a first game of the regular season are at play. Anthony Edwards and company should be able to make their adjustments just fine.