Timberwolves not playing with enough ‘purpose’ since returning from all-star break

The Timberwolves were playing some of their best basketball of the season heading into the NBA all-star break. The defense was dominant, as it has been for much of the season.

And, perhaps more importantly, the offense was truly clicking as Minnesota finally demonstrated the quick, effective decision-making it had lacked for much of the season.

So, in that respect, the break came at a bad time. Because in the two games played after the all-star festivities, the offense has devolved back into a pumpkin. The ball is sticky and the shot selections are poor.

“Our offense is extremely rhythmic. When we move it early for the sake of moving it and then we were able to drive. Then at that point we’re playing quicker decisions and we can see the low man and help coming earlier and everyone can anticipate where the ball is going to go next,” Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said. “Didn’t move it early (Saturday against Brooklyn). A lot of kind of, just trying to, again, play in the crowd. So yeah, sometimes you play out of rhythm, sometimes it takes a while to find it. Good thing is, we were playing in a great rhythm, we just got to get back there.”

Naz Reid said the Wolves are all currently “just trying to find a way.” He admitted the current level of play is sloppy, but remains confident that a couple more practices and games should iron out any newly-formed wrinkles.

“I think we were top five before the break,” Reid said of the offense. “Obviously you want to start like that, but we’re not in a perfect world, so it happens, mistakes happen. It’s something that we’ve just got to have a little more of a sense of urgency on doing, though.”

Wolves guard Mike Conley suggested poor offense can be a result of fatigue. When you’re tired, you don’t make the extra play or sacrifice or execute with the necessary force to make things operate. And while many of the Wolves should be well-rested, that may not be true of Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns, who had to attend numerous all-star festivities last weekend.

“So who knows, they might still be a little tired. They might need another break,” Conley said. “You just kind of have to build yourself back up this first week from all-star break, and we’ll continue to do that.”

Because currently, the Wolves don’t possess the same zip that made them such a dominant force through the first two-thirds of the season. Finch said the Wolves are playing hard, but “not with a lot of purpose.”

Two games of lackluster performance isn’t enough to sound any alarms, but the problem does need correcting.

“I don’t think we’ve come back from the break super sharp.” Finch said “So I think there’s got to be some urgency that has to be injected into what we’re doing. We just talked about that in the locker room (after Saturday’s game). That kind of thing, no time for hurt feelings right now. We got a lot of meaningful basketball to play. Put ourselves in really good position, (now) we got to capitalize. We don’t expect things to be easy, but we have to play with more purpose than we’re playing with right now.”

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