•  

    No one can say the Wolves just laid over in this series and let the top-seeded Rockets run all over them.

    Even in a series that Houston took 4-1, and won three games by double digits, Minnesota certainly gave them a run for their money. If nothing else, they did the Rockets’ next opponent a huge favor by showing them some key vulnerable areas they can take advantage of.

    The series went about as expected, though. The Wolves, in some ways, aren’t a typical eighth-seed in the Western Conference, but in other ways are about exactly what you would expect.

    Armed with two superstars in Karl-Anthony Towns and Jimmy Butler, the Wolves have the talent that can matchup with many of the top teams in the NBA. The Wolves have a higher caliber than an eighth-seed, but an injury to Butler and inconsistent play saw them fall significantly in the standings.

    Certainly the Wolves showed they could hang in there with the 65-win Rockets, and it was a bit unlucky on both sides that they were pitted against one another, but in the end the Wolves showed they have a number of things to work on before they can be considered one of the big dogs.

    In the end it just looked like the Wolves ran out of gas. Andrew Wiggins’ play steadily declined as the series progressed, Butler never once looked healthy and Towns was playing with the deer in the headlights look too often. A lot needed to go right for the Wolves to win this series, and a perfect storm of factors played into their Game 3 win, but other than that, there just wasn’t enough left in the tank.

    The Wolves have the talent for a top-four seed, but the execution of a team that is new to the playoff atmosphere. Looking back at the season in it’s entirety, the writing was on the wall all along. While it ended up being a moderately successful year, it was plagued by inconsistency and a lack of distinct growth.

    So often the Wolves were able to get by on talent alone. It rarely looked pretty, but some incredible individual talents were able to carry the team for long stretches at a time, and when examining this playoff series the same vibe applies. The Wolves struggled to put together a cohesive gameplan and it ultimately cost them versus a team that stuck to theirs.

    Houston took a bit of time to find their groove, but in the end found it when it mattered most with the series on the line. They never backed away from their identity, despite shooting 30 percent from beyond the arc in the first 3.5 games. They stuck to what works for them and it paid off in the end, shooting 43 percent from the arc since the second half of Game 4.

    The Wolves still lack that identity. Are they led by gritty, hard nosed Butler? Is Towns the focal point? Where does Wiggins fit? Is the team better off playing big or small, fast or slow?

    Unfortunately with this group of players it’s tough to say what approach the team wants to take. The most obvious direction is rolling the dice on former Bulls and seeing which can still contribute, but the future of the Wolves was always tied to Karl-Anthony Towns. Featuring and surrounding him with complementary players to his style should be the key.

    Looking back on the predictions for this series, we got two of the six correct. The Rockets came out on top 4-1, and the Wolves were able to snag that third game. Much like the rest of the series, nothing quite went according to the road map.

    Butler did not have a triple-double, in fact he didn’t even get a double-double. Towns averaged 15 points and 13 rebounds, in a fairly disappointing series. Harden averaged 29 points, seven assists and nearly five rebounds. Finally, the bench exceeded the minutes by the early stages of Game 3, mostly thanks to Derrick Rose’s stellar play.

    Enough looking back, for now it’s about what’s to come. It’s still early in this building process, but the team needs to set a direction and stick to it. They need to establish that particular style of play and build off of it. There were a lot of changes between coming into this season and more change is likely on the horizon as the team prepares for next year.

    At this time who knows what they will all be, but everything will be found right here. The basketball season is over for the players, but the NBA never truly sleeps. Expect plenty of Wolves coverage to continue throughout the summer, including draft coverage, salary breakdown, free agency, summer league and everything in between.

    Thanks for a great season and be on the lookout for more stories ahead.

Fantasy News

  • Ben Simmons
    PG, Philadelphia Sixers

    Ben Simmons put up a career-high 34 points on Saturday, adding seven assists, two steals and two blocks in just 26 minutes.

    Simmons dominated the Cavs and shot 12-of-14 from the floor including one 3-pointer. Simmons is great in a many areas, but he is held back by his free throw percentage, no threes and high turnovers.

  • Kyle O'Quinn
    C, Philadelphia Sixers

    Kyle O'Quinn double-doubled in 27 minutes on Saturday with 10 points (5-of-10 from the field), 11 boards and four blocks.

    The Sixers were without Joel Embiid (right hip contusion) and blew out the Cavs 141-94. O'Quinn can be left on the waiver wire in all fantasy leagues.

  • Trey Burke
    PG, Philadelphia Sixers

    Trey Burke nearly double-doubled on Saturday, dishing out eight assists to go with four steals and 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting in 27 minutes.

    There was a lot of garbage time for Burke tonight as the Sixers demolished the Cavs. Burke can be left on the waiver wire.

  • Mike Scott
    PF, Philadelphia Sixers

    Mike Scott started on Saturday and scored 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting to go with six rebounds and three 3-pointers in 24 minutes.

    Scott started for Joel Embiid (right hip contusion) and caught fire against the Cavs. Scott can be a streamer for points and threes when the Sixers are injured. Feel free to use Scott on Sunday if Embiid is still out.

  • Matisse Thybulle
    SG-SF, Philadelphia Sixers

    Matisse Thybulle sprained his right ankle and will not return on Saturday vs. the Cavs.

    Thybulle played nine minutes before rolling his ankle. He had just the one assist and one block.

    Source: Jeff Skversky 6abc on Twitter

  • Jake Layman
    SF, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Jake Layman (left toe sprain) has been listed as out on Sunday vs. the Lakers.

    Layman will now miss his eighth straight game. Treveon Graham, Josh Okogie and Keita Bates-Diop will absorb his minutes.

  • Andrew Wiggins
    SF, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Andrew Wiggins (left thumb sprain) has been listed as questionable for Sunday vs. the Wolves.

    Wiggins sat out the last game. If he is able to play, look for him to put up mid-round value for the rest of the season.

    Source: Timberwolves PR on Twitter

  • Jeff Teague
    PG, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Jeff Teague (left ankle soreness) is questionable to play on Sunday vs. the Lakers.

    Teague started last game with Andrew Wiggins out and put up a monster line. If Wiggins, who is also questionable, is able to play, then Teague will likely return to his bench role. He should still put up solid late-middle round value given the minutes.

    Source: Timberwolves PR on Twitter

  • Shabazz Napier
    PG, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Shabazz Napier (right hamstring strain) has been listed as probable for Sunday vs. the Lakers.

    Napier can be left on the wire as he has fallen behind in the rotation and won't play high enough minutes consistently to be standard-league relevant.

    Source: Timberwolves PR on Twitter

  • Karl-Anthony Towns
    C, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Karl-Anthony Towns (right knee tendinopathy) has been listed as probable for Sunday vs. the Lakers.

    KAT was able to play through the right knee tendinopathy last game and put up first round numbers. He has a tough matchup with the Lakers who have been slowing down opposing bigs, however he is still a must-start.

    Source: Timberwolves PR on Twitter