Wolves Hope To Be Ignited By Home Crowd Before All-Star Break

by Kyle Ratke, Digital Content Manager

Digital Content Manager

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Trying to get a team with nine new players on a roster to mesh in less than a week isn’t the easiest thing to do.

If you need proof, just ask Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders how much sleep he’s gotten lately. 

But through two games, the Timberwolves have looked really good with a new cast of characters. If you were an alien and knew nothing about this team starting Saturday, you probably wouldn't have had any idea this team just made a franchise-altering trade.

The new-look Wolves beat a championship-contending Clippers team in front of a sold-out Target Center on Saturday and gave a Raptors team that had won 14-straight games all they could handle on Monday night in Toronto. 

Next up for the Wolves is a feisty Hornets squad on Wednesday night at home. It will be D’Angelo Russell’s home debut for Minnesota. Against Toronto, Russell finished with 22 points and five assists while shooting 7-for-12 from the field and 4-for-5 from the 3-point line.

Russell, along with Karl-Anthony Towns, knows how important homecourt advantage is for a team trying to find itself more than 50 games into the season. That’s why the two of them bought 1,000 tickets each to give to fans for the game.

There’s probably a pretty good chance the Wolves sell out their second-straight game, which goes to show just how excited and intrigued fans are about this completely overhauled unit. And they should be. There’s the Russell and Towns aspect surely, but players like Malik Beasley and Juan Hernangomez look like they could be major contributors as well. 

Around this time of year, most players and teams are looking forward to the All-Star break. Bodies and minds need rest. For the Wolves, it’s the opposite. The break for this relatively healthy unit (it feels like Jake Layman could be back soon) comes at a time when the group would rather be focusing on how to best make this new relationship succeed.

“It’s kind of weird because we have one more game and then it’s the All-Star break and we kind of split again,” Beasley said before Tuesday’s practice. “I kind of wish we had continuous things going on where we could just continue playing.”

It’s worth noting that Beasley was in the gym at 9 a.m. getting shots up about eight hours after the team landed in Minneapolis from Toronto.

This break will be different than most years for players and coaches. For players, it will be trying to adjust their personal life after having to fly into Minneapolis 24 hours after being traded last week. I would guess there is some laundry to catch up on. For coaches, it will be trying to best figure out how these players can succeed together.  

With 30 games left in the season, the playoffs aren’t the goal. The goal now is to lay down the foundation. The Timberwolves have a system in place where the players seem to fit perfectly (the team has averaged 134 points in its two games with the new pieces). The system that coach Saunders implemented to start the season has the players to run it correctly.

That next opportunity will be Wednesday night against the Hornets at 7 p.m. The game will air from Target Center on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO. Tickets are available here.  

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