Improvement III: The bench has to play better sooner
In the first game of the season, the Timberwolves bench seemed to awaken from a long slumber. The Toronto Raptors were almost immediately bolstered by the hot hand of power forward Precious Achiuwa, who added eight points and eight rebounds off the bench. Meanwhile, the entire Timberwolves bench could only muster a handful of points.
The Timberwolves bench would eventually come to life, as both backup center/power forward Naz Reid (10 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist) and power forward/small forward Kyle Anderson (7 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals) would heat up. Even backup point guard Shake Milton (4 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals) would contribute as well.
Timberwolves must get more from their robust bench players
But even those contributions were not enough. The Timberwolves ended this game with five players scoring in double figures, and three players with double-digit rebounds, but the Timberwolves never seemed to pose a true threat to the hometeam Toronto Raptors.
Even after the Timberwolves rallied to a one-point lead to open the fourth quarter, the Timberwolves never seemed to get hot enough to rally for the victory. The Raptors were too fast (34 fast-break points to just 12 fast-break points for the Timberwolves), had too much ball movement (27 assists to just 20 assists for the Timberwolves), and just too nimble (9 steals to just 8 steals for the Timberwolves).
Had the Timberwolves bench sparked an instant rally, the game may have turned out much differently. That was just the first trouble spot. Let’s look at the second: