Practice Report | Oct. 19, 2013

Practice Report | Oct. 19, 2013

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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And on the seventh day, the Timberwolves hit the road.

No question, they’re ready to get out of the LifeTime Fitness Training Center.

It’s been a week since Minnesota faced someone other than themselves, and that game (a 104-97 loss to Toronto) in particular didn’t end with rave reviews from the Wolves’ coaching staff. So over the past week, Minnesota has worked hard to fine-tune some things on both ends of the court, build chemistry and get healthy—all in preparation for getting back on the court. They’ll get the opportunity on Sunday at 5 p.m. against the Boston Celtics in Montreal as part of the 2013 NBA Canada Series.

One thing veteran guard J.J. Barea noted about the Wolves’ first four preseason games is they aren’t showing enough toughness or energy right away in games. The Wolves are letting opponents dictate tempo early, and it’s making it tough to bounce back later in games. We’ve seen it against CSKA Moscow, Milwaukee and Saturday’s loss to the Raptors.

If the Wolves are able to dictate tempo early, they’ll put themselves in much better position later in games.

“We just need to pick it up, play harder, pick it up on defense with a little more energy—especially when we start games,” Barea said. “We can’t start games the way we’ve been starting games. That’s big for us. Letting teams get into a rhythm, it’s going to be tough for us to come back. We need to see what we can do here in these three games and see what happens.”

Minnesota has essentially three more tune-ups before its Oct. 30 regular season opener against the Magic. They’ve talked at length this week about how the first team is getting more cohesive each day and how they’re learning to work together as a unit. That will go a long way toward starting fast, but Barea also said the team as a whole needs to develop an edge to take the next step.

When he won the 2011 title in Dallas, Barea said the team had nice guys but also had tough guys. That’s essential for winning in this league, and Barea said the Wolves need to establish that presence in games. He wants the Wolves to create a little more contact with opponents.

“We’ve got to hit first, we’ve got to be more aggressive—especially on defense,” Barea said. “I think our offense is always going to flow. We’re going to move the ball. We’ve got guys who are going to create for others. We’ve got guys who make shots. We’ve just got to pick it up on defense and play a little harder.”

The important thing from the Wolves’ perspective is that during these seven days they’ve been able to put in extra work, get better acquainted with one another on the court and analyze on film where they can improve.

They’ll have their first opportunity to showcase that improved chemistry on the court tomorrow night.

“We’ve taken a step forward each day,” forward Kevin Love said. “Really the starting unit, instead of the second unit kicking our butts, we’re kicking their butts. That feels good. That’s kind of like a Training Camp redo in that regard.”

Quick Hits

  • The Wolves left immediately from Target Center to head to the airport on getaway day, and they’ll arrive in Montreal in the early evening tonight. The Wolves have two French-speaking players on the roster (Ronny Turiaf and Gorgui Dieng), but the vast majority report not being very confident in their French-speaking ability. Look for mostly English interviews in Montreal.

  • Ricky Rubio went 10-for-10 from the right corner during a heated 3-point shooting challenge after practice on Saturday. He received his passes from Shabazz Muhammad, and both Robbie Hummel and assistant coach David Adelman were involved. Rubio exploded in celebration after that 10th shot went in.

  • Ronny Turiaf said the Wolves have the potential to give opposing teams a lot of different looks with their personnel—whether it’s playing big, playing small, or rotating different players into any of their schemes. “It never hurts to have too much talent,” Turiaf said. “We have talented guys here. We have guys that fit together, so I think it’s just a matter of what do we want to do? What do we want to accomplish? Like coach said last week: It’s up to us. What do we want to do? Let’s make it happen.”

  • For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter.