Practice Report: Friday, April 5
Defense was the topic of discussion on Friday at Timberwolves practice. As the Wolves left the LifeTime Fitness Training Center and boarded a plane for New Orleans, the team understood that putting together a consistent effort for 48 minutes will be crucial in getting back on track.
In particular, coach Rick Adelman said perimeter defense has lagged since the team lost guards Ricky Rubio and Luke Ridnour.
“It starts with our perimeter,” he said. “We’ve got to do a better job. Unfortunately we’re not keeping people in front of us. Our best two perimeter defenders were Ricky and Luke and we’re missing that now, so other guys have to give the same effort.”
Adelman and forward Kevin Love both said they thought Rubio’s defense was an underrated facet of his game—in particular his keen sense for being in the right position during any rotation. But both he and Ridnour are not available, and the team needs to find a way to shore up its defensive effort from tipoff to the final buzzer.
That was the problem against Golden State on Wednesday, when the Warriors overcame a 20-point first half lead to beat the Wolves 97-94 at Target Center. Giving a consistent defensive effort is the main culprit.
“We know we’re capable of it, but we just have to bring the effort,” Love said. “Each and every one of us.”
Adelman said the problem is the team has gotten complacent on the defensive end. Instead of anticipating, the team is reacting.
“It’s just anticipating what the other team is doing,” he said. “It’s pretty easy to see. There aren’t a lot of offenses in our league. It’s just how they execute it. But we’re reacting to things, and that’s what puts us in scramble mode.”
Adelman said the team had 11 players practicing on Friday before the road trip. The Wolves will not send center Darko Milicic (sprained right hamstring) to New Orleans, but forward Michael Beasley is scheduled to make the trip.
Guard JJ Barea made his return on Wednesday after missing six games with a right thigh contusion, and he said it took a little time to brush the rust off against the Warriors.
“I did it all—I threw the ball away, I got some buckets, I got some assists, I got a technical foul,” Barea said, joking. “I did about anything.”
Barea said his leg is feeling fine two days later, albeit a little sore, and his next objective is to get back to 100 percent.
“Now I’ve got to get moving a little better,” Barea said. “It’s taken a little while to react, but every day is going to get better.”
For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter.