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Every great team has a glaring issue — the Timberwolves know theirs

The most predictable thing that happened in the first two Timberwolves games coming out of the All-Star break was the choppiness of the offense.

The Wolves create a rhythm of ball movement and player movement when their offense is humming as it should. They were living in that groove prior to the All-Star break, like a guitarist weaving in and around a singer to hit all the right licks and riffs to accentuate a song.

But in basketball, that rhythm can be a delicate thing, sometimes gone as soon as it is found. An extended break caused the Wolves to lose that sense of innate timing because they hadn't been playing or practicing much for a week.

The Wolves had the 24th-rated offensive efficiency across their two games, a loss to Milwaukee and an ugly win over Brooklyn.

"You go through it several times a season," coach Chris Finch said. "It seems natural that the All-Star break would be one of those times. We have all the fixes, we just have to put them into place."

The Wolves can show what they've learned on Tuesday when they take on the Spurs, who won 113-112 in the teams' previous meeting last month in San Antonio.

Finch pointed to the Wolves not taking opportunities to kick the ball out to open players on the perimeter as one of the recent issues the team addressed ahead of Monday's practice. That's what had made the Wolves' offense so successful prior to the break, when it was the fifth-ranked offense in the league since the start of February.

"There's still a lot of habits that people have. It's hard to break habits," point guard Mike Conley said. "Guys have played a certain way their entire life, it's hard to break 'em in a couple month span. But you have to continue to work at it as a group. And in the games, when adversity hits, when we're not making shots, when we're turning it over, those are more important times to lock in on it."

That's exactly what the Wolves didn't do in the third quarter of Friday's loss to Milwaukee, when lackluster ball movement and shot selection snowballed into a huge run for the Bucks, who outscored the Wolves 36-13. That's another vulnerability with this Wolves offense — the tendency for one bad stretch to affect what comes next.

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"Having one guy out of rhythm, out of sync, one guy doing their own thing … you can see it in the body language from the other four on the court," Conley said. "If somebody just starts going sideways with what we're trying to do as a team, guys are cutting and running, trying to make plays. But if we don't get rewarded for doing so, guys hang their head, they don't run back on defense as fast."

The Wolves' worst defensive performances tend not to come because of poor execution in their halfcourt defense. They happen when teams capitalize on their propensity to turn the ball over and get out in transition. The Wolves' strong halfcourt defense can't do anything if teams are racing down the floor on them.

"We have a habit sometimes, we don't want to put the work in offensively," Finch said. "We get a little lazy on offense whereas you got to do a lot more work before you get the ball instead of all your work after you get the ball. Just some of those types of things I think will come back to us. I'm pretty confident."

They found that rhythm in the time leading up to the break, and it is likely to reappear at some point. As Conley said, no team is perfect. Even the teams at the top of the standings all have persistent issues they have to address. By the end of the season, will they be able to keep the rhythm once they do find it again?

"The teams that are up there in the standings, No. 1, 2 or 3, they're all dealing with something," Conley said. "We're all in it in this particular bubble, but I'm sure Boston has their thing, I'm sure Milwaukee has their thing — this is our thing."