Shootaround Access: Wolves vs. Maccabi Bazan Haifa

Alex Conover
Web Editorial Associate


After today’s shootaround the Timberwolves face Maccabi Bazan Haifa, Wolves assistant coach Bill Bayno gave some details on what the team knows about their foreign opponent.

“They played Golden State tough,” Bayno said. “They were down two with two minutes to go. They play really, really hard. They’re a good European team.”

Tonight’s tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at Target Center. It is Minnesota’s final preseason game at Target Center before the regular season begins Nov. 2 against the Sacramento Kings. The game is scheduled to be televised on Fox Sports North.

Unlike Minnesota, which has experimented with several different rotations of players to get a feel for their team chemistry this preseason, Haifa gave their starters the majority of the playing time against the Warriors.

“They’re starter-dominated,” Bayno added. “They don’t have a really strong bench. Their point guard played 43 minutes and all their starters played heavy minutes. But they’re balanced; they had five guys in double-figures.”

Of those five, the most impressive against Golden State was Donta Smith, a 6-foot-7 small forward who was born and raised in Kentucky. After two years of junior college basketball, Smith went pro and was drafted in the second round by the Hawks.

“He’s a scorer,” Bayno said of Smith. “Really good at using his body and getting fouled. He had 28 points [against Golden State], and I think he had 10 or 11 free throw attempts. He doesn’t miss many. So those guys with that type of confidence, if you’re the go-to guy, you just want to make as many of those shots as hard as possible—and don’t give them anything easy.”

Other top options for Maccabi Bazan Haifa include Pat Calathes, a forward who played collegiately at St. Joseph’s, and James Thomas, a big man who logged a double-double against Golden State.

According to Bayno, the preparation for a team like this is largely the same as an NBA opponent.

“We try to keep it standard to keep it the same every game,” Bayno said. “So we’ll show a highlight film of what they run, what we’ve got to stop, their tendencies, what they like to do. We’ll walk through their high-volume plays and just try to keep the same consistency, whether it’s Maccabi Haifa or the Chicago Bulls or the Pacers.”

Update from Kevin Love

While Timberwolves forward Kevin Love sat out the last preseason contest with a minor elbow injury, he fully plans to play tonight and to make the most of the matchup.

“I told the guys that this is a chance to go through our sets and be crisp,” Love said. “Our defense has been there, and more than anything play with confidence.”

Minnesota has used several rotations through its first three preseason games, and tonight should be no different.

“We’re going to look at a lot of different lineups tonight,” Love said. “In these last four preseason games, there’s a lot to be learned and take advantage of. We just want to go out there and play well.

“We have different guys that can shoot the ball, play multiple positions, guard multiple positions, rebound and execute. We look at as many different lineups as we can throw around, so we’ll do that tonight as well.”

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