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    It doesn’t feel quite right that the Wolves have been among the worst offensive teams this postseason, after ranking near the top all season long in most offensive categories. With an offensive rating of just 95.5 (95.5 points per 100 possessions), the Wolves are dead last among the 16 playoff teams.

    In the regular season the Wolves’ offensive rating was fourth best at 110.8, per NBA.com. No team had an offensive rating below 100 this season, a feat that’s only happened two other times since they’ve started tracking it in the 90s. Those happened in 2006-07, and last season. Offense is up across the league (shocking, I know) and the Wolves are among the best in the league.

    Making things even more perplexing is the Wolves’ defense that’s holding the Rockets to just 103 points per game. The Wolves defensive rating of 103.9 is significantly stronger in the playoffs than it was in the regular season, where their 108.4 mark was 22nd worst in the league.

    The Rockets were among the strongest offenses in the NBA this season and a Wolves’ defense that struggled all season long has found a gear we didn’t know they had. Suffice to say the path through this series hasn’t exactly gone to plan, but it has still ended up where most expected to be.

    The Rockets carry a 2-0 series lead on the Wolves as the teams head to Minneapolis, a city that’s hosting the first NBA playoff basketball game since 2004. The fans aren’t unaccustomed to playoff basketball, though. The city is still celebrating the deep playoff run from the Minnesota Lynx that resulted in a WNBA Championship, their fourth in the last decade.

    Minnesota fans know playoff basketball as the Lynx have made seven consecutive playoff appearances, and they’ll be eager to show the Wolves what they’re expectations are.

    The Wolves aren’t nearly ready to compete with the dynastic history of the Lynx just yet, but they’ll look to salvage their series with the Rockets, or at least pull off a victory for the home crowd and send this series back to Houston.

    As of now the biggest hurdle is the offense, so for a team that powered through the regular season with a top-four offense it should be a simple turnaround (ideally). Nothing will be that simple, though.

    In Game 1 the problem was the Wolves weren’t able to feature Karl-Anthony Towns enough, for a mixture of reasons. The Wolves didn’t adjust much for Game 2, but made a concerted effort to involved Towns more often. Perhaps they focused on him too much and telegraphed their intentions.

    The Wolves typically don’t have an offense that flows in any sort of consistent manner. In fact it’s typically disjointed and gets by on pure talent and will, but there is a semblance of a plan there through all of the junk. In Game 2 it seemed the Wolves were too focused on one part of the plan.

    The Rockets were forcing the ball away from Jimmy Butler and pushing Towns away from his spots, but took too much time in trying to get them the ball instead of moving on and running a play or a pick-and-roll or some last-second offense. They came out of the first quarter strong with nice set plays, but seemingly lost cause after the Rockets adjusted (or ran out of plays).

    After shying away from the things they did so well in the regular season, they tried to force them too much. The truth always lied somewhere in the middle, a balance between the two. Adjusting to the adjustments, while avoiding the desire to over-correct.

    The Wolves have also been uncharacteristically sloppy in areas they are normally strong in. Their shots to the rim haven’t been falling, shooting just 57.7 percent (a mark that would rank dead last in the regular season) compared to the 66 percent mark they hit over their first 82 games. They’re also shooting just 36.6 percent in the paint, compared to 44.8 in the regular season.

    On top of that, they’re turning the ball over 15 times per game which has led to 15 points per game off of turnovers (compared to just 5.5 points for the Rockets). In the regular season the Wolves were among the best in taking care of the ball, which was necessary to give their defense a chance, but also fueled their offensive success.

    Credit is certainly due to the Rockets. They have responded to the Wolves’ every attack with their own counter, and they host a talented (overlooked) defense. The Wolves, and Tom Thibodeau specifically, are notoriously slow to make adjustments, though, and that has to change here in Game 3.

    That means getting KAT, who averaged nine shots in the first two games, going on offense, but sticking to the strengths as a team. Attacking the paint and getting to the free throw line. Avoiding the sloppiness that has plagued the team through two games.

    Back on the home floor, where the Wolves’ offense in the regular season was even more potent and in front of a full crowd of hyped up fans ready to cheer away 14 years of waiting, the team is seeking for answers on offense. Their best course may be to look back, remember what made them so effective in the regular season. Their offense is what got them to this point, and it’s what will give them a win against Houston.

    Lineups:

    Jeff Teague – PG
    Jimmy Butler – SG
    Andrew Wiggins – SF
    Taj Gibson – PF
    Karl-Anthony Towns – C

    vs.

    Chris Paul – PG
    James Harden – SG
    Trevor Ariza – SF
    P.J. Tucker – PF
    Clint Capela

    Injuries:

    Jimmy Butler (wrist) – PROBABLE
    Justin Patton (foot) – OUT

    Ryan Anderson (ankle) – PROBABLE
    Luc Mbah a Moute (shoulder) – OUT

    Media:

    Where: Target Center, Minneapolis, MN

    When: 6:30 CT

    How: Fox Sports North and ESPN

Fantasy News

  • Richaun Holmes
    PF, Sacramento Kings

    The Kings have announced the signing of Richaun Holmes.

    Holmes is set to make $10 million over the next two seasons. He'll push for minutes in a crowded frontcourt, but if it's a true meritocracy then he should quickly rise to the front of the pack. Last season he was able to deliver standard-league value in only 16.9 mpg, so he's someone to target late in drafts on the expectation that he gets more burn in Sacramento. It's a potentially messy situation but we have faith that Holmes will make the most of it for fantasy purposes. For the Kings, it's a straight up steal.

    Source: Sacramento Kings

  • Marcus Morris
    PF, New York Knicks

    The Knicks have announced the signings of Marcus Morris and Reggie Bullock.

    Morris is on a one-year, $15 million deal while Bullock is coming in on a two-year deal worth less than $4.7 million annually, with a second season that isn't fully guaranteed. While both players began the offseason as potential standard-league targets, there's not much to see given the sudden depth of the Knicks roster. Morris will be one of five players who should mostly be playing power forward, while Bullock will slot into a busy backcourt and is already expected to miss at least a month of the season. New York's rotations are going to be a mess and we'd steer clear.

    Source: New York Knicks

  • Reggie Bullock
    SG-SF, New York Knicks

    Reggie Bullock is expected to miss at least one month of the regular season, per SNY's Ian Begley.

    Bullock, who initially agreed to a two-year deal worth $21 million, re-worked his contract to clock in at two years (with a second year that isn't fully guaranteed) for under the $4.7 million exception. There's no word on what exactly Bullock is dealing with, though he suffered from neck stiffness and plantar fasciitis in his right foot late last season. There's no need to monitor Bullock in standard leagues to open the year.

    Source: Ian Begley on Twitter

  • Markelle Fultz
    PG, Orlando Magic

    Speaking to Sirius XM, Steve Clifford said that although there remains no timetable for Markelle Fultz (shoulder), he is making good progress.

    Clifford said, "You know, right now we don't have a timetable for when he'll be back, but he's really doing a great job." Fultz simply wasn't ready to suit up, and even though we haven't really had any concrete updates on him since his last game on November 18, we're still expecting him to be ready to start the season. Fultz will make for a late-round flier on the chance that he finally gets healthy and puts it all together.

    Source: Sirius XM NBA Radio on Twitter

  • Blake Griffin
    PF, Detroit Pistons

    Blake Griffin (left knee) has been cleared to start light basketball activities after undergoing arthroscopic surgery in late April.

    Griffin dealt with left knee soreness in the season's final games and missed the first two games of the playoffs. His issues were dealt with quickly after the season ended and he should be ready for the start of the season. Look for Griffin to come off draft boards in the early-middle rounds after he put up a career season last year, though there might not be much profit margin at that price. There's a definite 8-cat lean as well.

    Source: Rod Beard on Twitter

  • Nicolo Melli
    PF, New Orleans Pelicans

    Pelicans forward Nicolo Melli underwent knee surgery and will not participate in Italy’s training camp at the end of July, ahead of the FIBA World Tournament.

    This comes out of nowhere and the only relative information we have is that Melli will be re-evaluated on a week-to-week basis. The Italian big should be fine for the Pelicans training camp where he will compete for the backup power forward minutes as long as the surgery is not anything too serious.

    Source: Sportando

  • Bam Adebayo
    C, Miami Heat

    Bam Adebayo is envisioning himself as a better all-around player, with averages of 16.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists this upcoming season.

    Adebayo, who turns 22 on Thursday, averaged 8.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 23.3 minutes while playing in all 82 of the Heat’s games last season. With the Heat trading center Hassan Whiteside to the Blazers earlier this month, Adebayo is expected to be the clear-cut choice at starting center and a fantasy breakout candidate.

    Source: Miami Herald

  • Reggie Bullock
    SG-SF, New York Knicks

    Reggie Bullock has agreed to sign a two-year deal with the Knicks for less than the $4.7 million exception.

    It was reported that Bullock intitally had an offer for two years and $20 million so this is a considerable drop on the monetary terms. The two parties had to rework their agreement after unanticipated health issues that almost made the deal fall through. This is also the end of the domino that had Marcus Morris back off his initial agreement with the Spurs and sign a deal with the Knicks instead. New York seems to be loaded in the forward positions and it’s anyone’s guess who earns the minutes to become fantasy relevant next year.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Dragan Bender
    PF, Phoenix Suns

    As Dragan Bender continues to explore the NBA market, the Cavs and the Raptors are among the teams that have inquired about the former lottery pick.

    The European market also remains an option for the Croatian forward as CSKA Moscow and Fenerbache are monitoring his situation. Bender is still only 21 years old and teams around the NBA could still take a chance on him after what has been a disappointing NBA career so far with averages of 5.3 points and 3.8 rebounds in 131 career games.

    Source: Orazio Francesco Cauchi on Twitter

  • Raul Neto
    PG, Philadelphia Sixers

    Raul Neto could end up being Ben Simmons' backup to begin the 2019-20 season.

    Right now, the two candidates to be the backup to starter Ben Simmons are Neto and former two-way player Shake Milton, a second-year combo guard who earned a lot of minutes at the point in the NBA Summer League. Neto started 53 of the 81 games in which he appeared as a rookie in 2015-16, but only started once over the past three seasons. He has averages of 4.8 points, 1.9 assists and 37.7 percent shooting from 3-point range in 14.2 minutes and it’s highly unlikely that he gains fantasy value even if he earns the backup job.

    Source: Bucks County Courier Times