Column: The Right Time For A Bye Week
The Right Time For A Bye Week
If there was a perfect time to have a preseason bye week, it would be right now.
The Timberwolves played four games over the past six days, and during that stretch Minnesota had enough ups and downs to cause the need for a little reflection. They’ll have that chance with eight days off, beginning with a treatment day on Sunday and running through their trip to Montreal next weekend to face the Boston Celtics as part of the 2013 NBA Canada Series.
To start, Minnesota missed shooting guard Kevin Martin for two full games on Thursday and Saturday as he rested his sore right Achilles tendon. He felt that soreness for the first time during Wednesday’s game in Toronto, where he played just under seven minutes before taking the rest of the night off. Minnesota started Alexey Shved in his place over the past two games. The week off is just the right time to recover from any soreness that comes with essentially going from zero to 60 in the first week of preseason games.
The second reason this short break is ideal at this juncture for the Wolves is they have a few things to review and work out on both the offensive and defensive ends. They’re still trying to jump-start their first unit in game situations. Through Training Camp, that first unit was able to move the ball well during their drills. In games, however, it’s been a little bit more of a challenge. They offense hasn’t been incredibly fluid, and on the defensive end the Wolves are still trying to get on the same page.
This is a chance to take a look at the film, which coach Rick Adelman said would be part of this week’s activities. After playing for a full week, the Wolves are beginning to see where they need to improve before the regular season opens up in about 2 ½ weeks.
“I think it’s a chance for us to kind of refine some things and look at a good amount of film and know exactly what coach wants,” Wolves forward Kevin Love said after Saturday’s 104-97 loss to Toronto. “And I think we have 2-3 more preseason games left away from home, and then we play Oct. 30. So I think it’s good for us.”
With that comes the last thing the Wolves need to do during this break. Coach Rick Adelman wasn’t happy with the way the Wolves lost two preseason games at home this week, and if Minnesota is to achieve its goal of making the playoffs that will not be an acceptable outcome during the regular seasons. To be successful in the NBA, you need to win at home.
That’s why Adelman said on Saturday night this is a chance for the team to make a choice. They need to decide what type of team they want to be. The talent is there, and there is no question the culture inside the locker room is full of people who want to win. Now it’s time to flip that switch and make it a reality.
The Wolves need to become a team that plays with high-level intensity at all times. There are no moments off inside those 48 minutes. Every player needs to be dialed in for every play, and everyone needs to realize that each action means something. Adelman’s talked about it a lot: When you make the right cut, you might not score but it will open up extra space for a teammate. This team needs to focus on making the right cut or the right pass every time down the court. If they do that, they’ll become successful very quickly.
“You can’t get there by talking to them about it,” Adelman said. “You can show them stuff. You can use every tool you want, whether it’s a Knute Rockne talk, whether it’s stats, or whether it’s films, or whether it’s drills—whatever it is, it’s all tools. But unless they react in the right way and understand that they’ve got a lot of work to do, then it’s not going to hit home.”
Corey Brewer made the comment last night that winning at home is essential--he played for Denver last year and went 38-3 inside Pepsi Center. That type of home court advantage is hard to handle if you're a road team. For this Wolves squad, being a successful home team is not out of the question. I will simply take everyone playing together and working hard on every possession.
Brewer said that should be the easy part.
"It shouldn't matter if it's preseason, if you're in a park, you've got to come out and play your yardest all the time," Brewer said.
This Wolves team is talented, driven and capable of accomplishing its goals. The winning mindset inside the locker room is in place, and this is the right coaching staff to make that happen. This week away from games will afford Minnesota to connect all the dots before the games begin to matter. But they’ll need to put in the work to make that happen.
I expect to see a different looking Wolves team on Oct. 20 in Montreal.