October 25, 2017, 7:11 pm
One night after giving up 130 points on 67 percent shooting to the Pacers, the Timberwolves once again looked over-matched on defense, losing 122-101 to the Pistons. The Wolves started the game on a 9-0 run, but it fell apart after that. They let the Pistons shoot 52 percent and gave up 15 three-pointers at a 44 percent clip.
Towns, Wiggins and Teague all put up nice lines on offense, but were dreadful defensively. Teague stopped guarding Reggie Jackson at one point and let him take an open three-pointer. Wiggins was guarding a player who was already manned, and allowed Bradley to take an open three. Towns was having trouble with Drummond inside.
These were just a few mistakes that added up to another blowout. The Wolves’ expectations are very high this season, perhaps unfairly, but nonetheless if they want to reach those expectations, those three players need to step up defensively and not rely on Butler to do the dirty work.
Six players for Detroit scored in double figures, led by Tobias Harris who had 34 points and six 3-pointers. Andre Drummond finished with 15 points, 15 rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block. He was constantly looking ahead after rebounds, looking to make the outlet pass and start the fast break.
On the night, the Pistons scored 24 fastbreak points to the Wolves’ zero. Going forward, the Wolves need to clean this up. They have enough problems guarding in the half court, allowing teams to run all over them will compound those problems like the last two nights. Even going back to Sunday, this was a problem.
Karl-Anthony Towns was the leading scorer with 23 points and three 3-pointers, adding 10 rebounds, one assist and one block. Wiggins scored 21 points himself, with three rebounds, one assist and two steals. Teague had 18 points, six assists, two rebounds and a steal. No one else scored more than eight points.
Towns, Wiggins and Teague also combined for eight assists and 11 turnovers on the night.
This was another ugly loss for the Timberwolves and there really no two ways around it. The team has an off day tomorrow before a rematch with the Thunder on Friday. The hope is that Jimmy Butler can return for that game, but at this moment it’s still up in the air. It’s possible even if he plays, he won’t be 100 percent ready.
Overall, this team is still young and learning to play together. The Wolves have missed the playoffs for 13 straight years, and didn’t look any closer last season. These types of turn-arounds are incredibly tough to pull off for any team, even with all the talent they brought in this offseason.
Perhaps expectations were still too high, perhaps not. Going forward, these type of inconsistencies should be expected. Towns and Wiggins are still the main pieces of this team, and it’s clear they have a long road ahead, especially on the defensive end.
Sunday’s game was a taste of what this team can accomplish. These past two games were like a bucket of water thrown into their faces. In the end, it might all be for the better. The team needs to buy into the defensive concept together, not just let one guy do everything for them. Maybe these last two games serve as that reminder that sticks with them.
May 26, 2019, 1:17 amKawhi Leonard - F - Toronto Raptors
Kawhi Leonard posted a monster line in Saturday's 100-94 Game 6 win, scoring 27 points with 17 rebounds, seven assist, two steals, two blocks and six turnovers.
Leonard put the Raptors on his back and carried them into their first NBA Finals appearance. After losing the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals the Raptors stormed back to take the next four to seal the series. Kawhi has been simply marvelous for this team and found a way to crank it up another notch, averaging almost 30 points per game this series. He was all over the court this game and dominated the Bucks from inside the paint. A 4th quarter dunk over Giannis Antetokounmpo punctuated this dominance and sent the hometown crowd in a frenzy. The Raptors will try to keep their hot streak going as they face the Warriors in the NBA Finals.
May 26, 2019, 1:14 amGiannis Antetokounmpo - F - Milwaukee Bucks
While Giannis Antetokounmpo will be eligible for a five-year supermax contract worth over $247 million, ESPN's Malika Andrews is reporting that the 2020 playoff run could swing whether or not Antetokounmpo stays with the Bucks long-term.
The Bucks have three of their starters and two key bench pieces heading into free agency this summer, so they might have to make some bold choices to keep the necessary parts around while also improving the team on a budget. It's possible that this is the Antetokounmpo camp's way of encouraging Milwaukee to empty the wallet and keep the current group together, but it goes against what Giannis has said publicly about the team and city from day one. The Bucks were eliminated mere hours ago but we're already having this conversation. The NBA news cycle is perpetual.
May 26, 2019, 12:59 amKyle Lowry - G - Toronto Raptors
Kyle Lowry posted a solid line in Saturday's Game 6 win scoring 17 points while adding five rebounds, eight assists, three 3-pointers, one steal and only one turnover.
After a pedestrian series against the 76ers, Lowry stepped it up against the Bucks, averaging almost 20 points per game in the Eastern Conference Finals. He did a great job making smart plays for the Raptors and they will need him to continue to operate at this high level as they head off into the NBA Finals next week.
May 26, 2019, 12:48 amMarc Gasol - C - Toronto Raptors
Marc Gasol scored six points, all from behind the arc, in Saturday's Game 6 win, adding three rebounds, two assists and a block/steal in 26 minutes.
Gasol continues to do what the Raptors ask of him though the years of grinding in the paint for Memphis are long gone. He has adjusted his game play and now acts as a facilitator for the rest of the team. Gasol continues to split time in the post with Serge Ibaka (25 minutes, nine points) and will see his minutes fluctuate based on the Raptor's offensive scheme heading into the NBA Finals.
May 26, 2019, 12:24 amFred VanVleet - G - Toronto Raptors
Fred VanVleet was a difference maker for the Raptors' series clinching Game 6, scoring 14 points off the bench on 5-for-6 shooting while adding two assists.
VanVleet played 34 minutes off the bench and continues to be a menace from behind the 3-point line (4-for-5 today). In the past three games he has gone an unbelievable 14-for-17 from behind the arc. The Raptors will continue to rely on his ability to stretch the floor as they head into their first NBA Finals and will square off against the Warriors and their own formidable shooters.
May 26, 2019, 12:08 amGiannis Antetokounmpo - F - Milwaukee Bucks
Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 21 points in Saturday's Game 6 loss while contributing 11 rebounds, four assists, two steals, three blocks and two turnovers.
Antetokounmpo did all that was asked of him on both sides of the ball but could not get past the Raptors this series. Giannis continues to operate at an MVP-level but his freethrow woes continue to plague him. He was "Shaq-esque" this series (55%) and shot 5-for-10 in tonight's loss. This is a tough break for Antetokounmpo and the Bucks as they head into the offseason with four of their five starters entering free agency.
May 25, 2019, 11:46 pmKhris Middleton - F - Milwaukee Bucks
Khris Middleton scored 14 points in Saturday's Eastern Conference Finals loss adding just four 3-pointers, four rebounds and two turnovers.
All-Star Middleton struggled this entire series as he was tasked with the unenviable task of guarding Kawhi Leonard. He was poised to continue his fabulous playoff success following strong performances against the Pistons and Celtics but failed to deliver this series, with the exception of a 30-point Game 4 loss. Middleton will be a free agent this summer and will be one of the Bucks' top priorities heading into the offseason.
May 25, 2019, 11:29 pmEric Bledsoe - G - Milwaukee Bucks
Eric Bledsoe scored an inefficient eight points (3-for-9 FGs, 1-for-3 3-pointers, 1-for-2 FTs) in Saturday's loss while adding five rebounds, seven assists, one steal and two turnovers.
Bledsoe seemed to ebb and flow all series and just could not find the consistency that the Bucks needed during the Eastern Conference Finals. He has always been able to produce outside of scoring but his team really needed him to put the ball in the hoop this game.
May 25, 2019, 11:19 pmBrook Lopez - C - Milwaukee Bucks
Brook Lopez scored 18 points on Saturday's Game 6 loss, adding nine rebounds, one assist, four blocks and zero 3-pointers.
Lopez had a productive 4th quarter for the Bucks scoring six points in the paint against the Raptors frontcourt. Unfortunately, he could not get it going throughout the rest of the game and caused most of his damage at the freethrow line, going 8-for-9. Lopez provided a great boost for the Bucks this season and will be a free agent this offseason.
May 25, 2019, 7:58 pmPatrick McCaw - G - Toronto Raptors
Patrick McCaw, who has been dealing with a personal issue for the last few games, is active for Game 6 on Saturday vs. the Bucks.
It looks like McCaw got things sorted out. With him active now, the Raptros will get a bit more depth at the guard spot. That said, Fred VanVleet has been playing well, so McCaw will not likely see a lot of burn tonight outside of potential garbage minutes (if any).
Source: Blake Murphy on Twitter