Category Archives: ProCity Hoops

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Timberwolves @ Kings Game Preview

Category : Kings , NBA , ProCity Hoops , Timberwolves

The Timberwolves are in Sacramento for a late-night matchup against the Kings. The game is set to tip at 9 PM CT. The Wolves and Kings have one matchup on the season, a game the Kings won 121-110. In fact, that game was the last game that Jimmy Butler played for Minnesota, as he was traded to Philly the next day. In their first matchup, Karl-Anthony Towns led the way for the Wolves scoring 39 points and grabbing 19 rebounds. For Sacramento, they were led by Willie Cauley-Stein, who recorded 25 points on 11-16 shooting from the field. Fast forward a month, and the Kings and Wolves are still right in the thick of things in the West. Sacramento sits at 14-12, coming off a four-game road trip where they went 3-1. For the Wolves, they currently sit at 13-14, losing their last two games on the road to the Blazers and Warriors. Let’s get into the keys to tonight’s matchup for both teams.
Timberwolves:
In order to leave Sacramento with a win, the Wolves need to find a way to get Karl-Anthony Towns the ball and contain De’Aaron Fox. Towns dominated in the two team’s first matchup of the season, and Minnesota will need more of that tonight. In order to get KAT going, it would be beneficial for the Wolves to let Towns share the court with Dario Saric more often. In 133 minutes played together this season, the Wolves have outscored opponents by 12.6 points per 100 possessions when KAT and Dario share the floor. Additionally for Minnesota, their defense will have to put the clamps on De’Aaron Fox. While Robert Covington has mostly been matched up against the opposing team’s best player this season, it will likely be Jeff Teague’s responsibility to contain Fox tonight. Jeff Teague isn’t the quickest defender in the NBA, so it will be a challenge that he needs to take on in order to slow down De’Aaron Fox.

Kings:
The Kings need to continue doing what has been working for them so far this season. The Kings are playing with the second fastest pace in the NBA this season, and it’s been working. The Kings need to continue to run and play fast against a Wolves team that has been improving on the defensive side of the ball. Additionally, the Kings need to stop Towns. Since the Jimmy Butler trade, the Wolves have been running their offense through the big fella. For the Kings, they will need to attack Towns with a fierce double-team that makes it hard for Towns to get in a rhythm.
Prediction:
While the Kings got the best of Minnesota earlier in the season, I think Minnesota ends their short two-game losing streak tonight in Sacramento. I think the Kings will have a hard time containing Towns, which will lead to a 30-10 performance from KAT. In the end, I forsee the Wolves coming out on top 112-105.

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Let's talk about Paul George and the MVP

We’re about a quarter through the season and some usual MVP suspects are starting to flesh themselves out. We’re talking Giannis. LeBron. Embiid. Curry. AD. A name you might not have expected to hear…Paul George.
Usually, when we talk about MVP candidates from the Thunder, we think about Russell Westbrook, and rightfully so. Russ is among the league leaders in defensive metrics and averaging another triple-double for the first place Thunder. Guess what, though. Westbrook hasn’t even been the best player on his own team this year.
Am I going to give you an in-depth breakdown of PG13’s 2018-19 season? I’ll spare you. After all, there is more and more breaking news in the NBA every day now, Robert Mueller is dropping Woj bombs about President Trump and apparently our climate is imploding as we speak. In other words, there is a lot of news for you all to catch up on.
So, I’ll give you the short and sweet. Let’s start with the numbers.
Stat Class
How does George compare to the other MVP candidates? I put George’s numbers against Steph Curry, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, The Greek Freak, and Joel Embiid. Here’s the breakdown:

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Is George leading in these categories? No. But the MVP is not automatically handed to whoever leads the league in scoring. Ask Steve Nash. There are multiple factors that go into determining who deserves MVP votes. Yet, it is good to see PG13’s numbers be relatively comparable to the other players making serious noise for this offseason’s hardware. After all, 24.3/4.3/7.8 splits on 43 percent shooting from the floor and 36.5 percent on 8.9 triple attempts per game is pretty darn good.
Is he shooting 50 percent from deep like Steph? No. Pulling down crazy boards like Giannis, Davis and Embiid? Nah. Dishing out assists to young gun teammates like LeBron? Nope. But you know what George is doing?
The guy is playing Defensive Player of the Year caliber defense while leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to the best record in the bloodbath Western Conference. True basketball pundits love to talk about the other side of the ball when it comes to MVP discussions, but they tend to come up short. Not here, though.
The hierarchy of basketball skill set comes in this order:
1. Putting the ball in the hoop.
2. Stopping others from putting the ball in the hoop.
3. Helping others put the ball in the hoop.
There is an early list of potential DPOY winners for this season. Some names: Giannis, Embiid, Robert Covington, Paul Millsap, Myles Turner. Also on the list, and inching closer to the top of it, is George.
George’s court awareness has risen to a new level. Not only is he leading the league in steals, but he is flaunting his IQ when he nabs them. Does he poke the ball away from dribblers ala Kawhi Leonard? Absolutely. But he uses his long wingspan to snatch crosscourt passes in manner that leaves the passer thinking “where the hell did that guy come from”
Check out the clips below as we transition into…
A little bit of film
In this clip, George fights over a screen with a tenacity that would make the grumpiest of coaches smile. Yes, I am looking at you Coach Popovich. Then, George puts his hands in the air to disrupt either the lob pass to the roller, or the kick out to the shooter.

The steal comes easy for George, as it usually does for him. The dude just instinctually puts his hands in the air like he just walked into a party playing Return of the Mack. An easy bucket in transition is the result. Textbook pick and roll defense, my friends.
Watch this next bit of film. AD rolls to the hoop after setting a solid screen on Westbrook. PG13 recovers to help out and guard Davis. Instead of trying to stick with Davis because, you know, he’s Kevin Garnett with a better 3-pointer, George reads the defender’s eyes and steals a cross-court pass in a way that makes you say aloud “when did Paul George become a wizard?”

While Steven Adams and Jerami Grant should both be getting early All-Defensive team recognition, the Thunder are the best defensive team in the league in large part to Paul George.
Putting it all together
The Thunder are in first for a number of team defensive metrics. Also, they pass the eye test with resounding approval. Adams anchors the paint while being a more than capable switch defender. Grant protects the rim like a center despite being a wing. If you are wondering why the Thunder are in first place, look no further than their defensive effort.
Their offense tells another story, however. They are 25th in percentage of points from three; a poor figure for the modern NBA. They are also 25th in 2-point field goals assisted on, as well as 3-pointers unassisted and overall field goals assisted on (25 is there number, huh?)
In other words, this team does not move the ball too well. Alongside Russ, George is what keeps this offense afloat. He nails 50 percent of his isolation field goals and is the sole reliable 3-point shooter when they run a lineup of Adams, Westbrook, Ferguson and the albeit much-improved Grant.
Simply put, he has done a better job than Westbrook of carrying the offensive load for a team which certainly needs it. He stretches the floor better than Russ and is right there with him when it comes to iso scoring, drives, pull-up jumpers and catch and shoot triples. Shoot, he even leads Russ in some of those categories. Oh, and George is putting up one of his highest raw assist and assist percentage seasons ever.
So what do we have? We have a two-way gem for the best defensive team in the league helping his team reach first place in an historically brutal conference.
Yeah, I’d say that earns George some MVP chatter.


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11/12 Nets @ Timberwolves Rapid Reactions

Final Score: Timberwolves: 120, Nets: 113
Timberwolves:

A tremendously weird night at the Target Center finished with the Timberwolves coming out on top. In their first game since the Jimmy Butler trade, it’s good for the Wolves to start off in the right direction. Although it was ugly, a win is a win in the NBA.
Karl-Anthony Towns performed well in the first game since the Butler trade. Towns will need to be the leader of the Wolves, especially on the offensive end. Tonight, Towns poured in 25 points and 21 rebounds. While KAT will need to cut down on the turnovers (10 tonight), Towns will keep needing to lead the Wolves on offense.
Jeff Teague is a monster when the ball is in his hands and he’s being aggressive. Recording 24 points and 11 assists, Teague will need to be ultra-aggressive the rest of the season for the Wolves to stay in the race in the West.
Wolves only got 10 points from their bench. While the Wolves were short handed tonight without Covington and Saric in the lineup, Minnesota needs more than 10 points off the bench. When Minnesota is fully healthy and everyone is in their lineup, their bench has a real chance to be one of the best bench units in the league.
Derrick Rose continued his hot start to the season. Putting up 23 points and 6 assists, Rose shot 3-5 from three-point range. Coming into the night, Rose had been shooting 46.7% from three. That will go up after his performance tonight. Rose’s shooting from deep has been a huge plus for Minnesota early in the season.

Nets:

First and foremost, prayers go out to Caris LeVert. One of the most promising young players in the NBA, it’s tough to see that devastating of an injury. So thoughts are with him for a speedy recovery.
D’Angelo Russell torched the Timberwolves from deep. Russell shot 9-15 from downtown tonight, recording a personal career-high in makes from three. Russell is shooting a career-high 36% from three this season, and his hot shooting continued tonight.
The Nets dominated the Wolves on the offensive glass. The Nets pulled down 19 offensive rebounds, compared to Minnesota’s 9. While the Timberwolves still grabbed more total rebounds, the offensive glass was controlled by Brooklyn.
The Nets continued attempting a ton of threes. The Nets put up 50 shots from deep tonight. In an effort to continue to adapt to the NBA’s new playstyle, Brooklyn continued pulling shots from beyond the arc tonight.
Brooklyn forced 23 turnovers on Minnesota, and they managed to only turn the ball over 13 times. Usually, when a team wins the turnover battle by that much and crushes the opponent on the offensive glass, they come out on top, but that was not the case tonight.


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11/2 Timberwolves @ Warriors Rapid Reactions

Category : NBA , ProCity Hoops , Timberwolves

Final Score: Warriors: 116, Timberwolves: 99
Timberwolves:

Minnesota held with the Warriors for most of the game, but the Warriors made their typical fourth quarter run to put Minnesota away. However, the Timberwolves’ play up until the halfway mark in the fourth was encouraging.
Minnesota was not shy from the three-point line. The Wolves attempted 45 threes in the game, but they connected on just 13 of the tries. In contrast, the Warriors made just as many threes, but it took Golden State 11 less attempts.
Jimmy Butler was ice cold from three. After a great display of three-point shooting in the win over the Lakers on Monday, Butler was 0-8 from three tonight. Butler forced a number of shots throughout the game, especially in the fourth quarter when Minnesota needed a bucket.
The Timberwolves move the ball with Tyus Jones. The Wolves’ ball movement with and without Jones in the game is a completely different story. Jones recorded eight assists tonight, and when he was on the bench, the Wolves lost all ball movement.
The Timberwolves only turned the ball over five times, yet they still lost by double-digits. Against the Warriors, Minnesota needed to play a perfect game to come out with the victory, and in terms of turnovers, they did just that.

Warriors:

When Golden State gets DeMarcus Cousins healthy, this team will quite literally be unbeatable. Teams currently have a chance to play a perfect game to beat Golden State. However, when the Warriors add another all-star into their lineup, teams might as well not even show up to the arena.
Steph Curry makes basketball look so easy. Curry barely broke a sweat tonight, yet he managed 28 points on 11-24 shooting from the field. In what seemed like a “quiet” performance for Curry, games like this could help boost Curry into another MVP-type season.
Golden State dominated the glass. The Warriors controlled the boards on both sides of the ball, gathering 61 total rebounds, compared to Minnesota’s 39 rebounds. The Warriors kept Minnesota off the offensive glass, something the Timberwolves have been very good at this season.
No matter how much you like or dislike the Warriors, they are super fun to watch. The Warriors move the ball like no other team in the NBA. When the Warriors are having fun and flying the ball around the court, there isn’t quite anything that compares in terms of pure ball movement.


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10/24 Timberwolves @ Raptors Rapid Reactions

Final Score: Raptors: 112, Timberwolves: 105
Timberwolves:

Confusing game all-around for Minnesota. In some ways, the Wolves stood in with Toronto on their own court, but in this league, it’s not about hanging with teams. It was a game of runs, and in the end, the Timberwolves didn’t have a big enough fourth quarter run in them.
The Timberwolves shot very well from deep. Minnesota was 15-30 from three. The entire team was hot from downtown. Butler led the way by going 4-7 from three, and Tolliver connected on 3-5 triples from deep. In the end, the three-point barrage wasn’t enough to get Minnesota the win, but it’s something to build on.
Jimmy Butler was brutal from the free-throw line. What happens in this game if Butler knocks down his foul shots? Butler was 5-10 from the line, where he is a career 83.4% shooter. Butler has recorded 20 points in each game he’s played in this season, but he could’ve done a lot more damage tonight.
Karl-Anthony Towns looked like he didn’t want to be on the court tonight. Towns has been very active so far this season, but tonight was a different story. KAT was a no-show on offense and wasn’t in the flow of the game. Towns’ offensive start to the season has to be a major concern going forward.
Josh Okogie had an interesting game. There is no doubting Okogie’s ability on the defensive end of the court. He is already an elite player on that end of the court. It’s the offensive end where Okogie is a huge question mark. Okogie started the game by shooting 0-9 from the field, forcing too many shots up. Then, Okogie caught fire, by hitting two straight threes and throwing down a massive putback. Okogie finished 4-14 from the field. If Okogie can learn when to shoot the ball and when to give it up, it will make him much more valuable to Minnesota.

Raptors:

This Toronto team is legit. I know, it’s been said before, but this year is truly different. With Kawhi Leonard in, and LeBron and out of the East, the Raptors have as good of a shot at going to the NBA Finals as any Eastern Conference team.
Kawhi Leonard is back. After missing almost a full year of basketball, Leonard looks like he hasn’t missed a step. Leonard recorded 35 points on 15-23 shooting from the field tonight, ridiculous efficiency. If Leonard continues to perform at this high of a level, he will definitely be in the MVP conversation at the end of the season.
Jonas Valanciunas provided a huge punch off the bench. Valanciunas recorded 16 points and 9 rebounds off the bench to lead Toronto’s bench scoring. Playing in just 20 minutes, 5 of the 9 rebounds Valanciunas grabbed were offensive rebounds.
The Raptors are the Spurs of the East. Their ball movement is unmatched. Almost everyone on their team is willing to make the extra pass. This team-centered basketball can take them very far, just ask San Antonio.


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10/22 Pacers @ Timberwolves Rapid Reactions

Final Score: Timberwolves: 101, Pacers: 91
Timberwolves:

The Timberwolves played defense. This is not a drill. The Minnesota Timberwolves played defense. Minnesota held Indiana to 91 points, the first time the Wolves have held an opponent under 100 points on the season. Tonight is something to build upon in terms of defense.
The Wolves are a playoff team with Jimmy Butler. With the win over the Pacers, Minnesota moves to 2-1 with Butler. Had Butler played on Saturday against the Mavericks, the Wolves would likely be holding a 3-1 record. However, without Butler, the Wolves are an average at best team.
Josh Okogie played terrific. Okogie’s energy on defense alone makes him valuable off the bench. With Wiggins going down with an injury, Okogie got a chance to show out, and make hustle and effort plays on the defensive end. However, Okogie has work to do on the offensive end. The rookie was 5-13 from the field tonight, including 1-6 from three. He forced the ball too much on offense, but the defense alone made him a big part of the winning effort tonight.
Timberwolves have a defensive rebounding problem. Indiana recorded 12 offensive rebounds tonight, compared to Minnesota’s 8 offensive rebounds. For Minnesota, it will need to be a team effort on the defensive glass, and if they don’t correct the mistakes, it will cost them games, like it already has.
Taj Gibson is as steady as the come. With 13 points and 8 rebounds, Gibson once again showed his value to Minnesota. Gibson is the most consistent Timberwolves player on the roster. The team knows what they will be getting each and every night.

Pacers:

Victor Oladipo struggled. Oladipo failed to get calls in the paint tonight, only shooting four free throws. The Wolves did a great job of walling up on Oladipo in the paint and defending without fouling.
The Pacers shot 11-16 from the charity stripe. Compared to Minnesota’s 22 points at the free-throw line, it’s hard to win games when the opposing team doubles your point total at the line.
Bojan Bogdanovic was terrific. Recording 20 points on 8-12 shooting from the field and 4-5 from three, Bogdanovic gave the Pacers a great punch on offense, on a night they didn’t produce much offense.
The Pacers bench was less than spectacular. Indiana’s bench was outscored 43-21. Nobody on the Pacers’ bench had a great night, and it’s hard to win games in the NBA with that little of bench production.


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10/19 Cavaliers @ Timberwolves Rapid Reactions

Category : NBA , ProCity Hoops , Timberwolves

Final Score: Timberwolves: 131, Cavaliers: 123
Timberwolves:

What a night at Target Center. It was an electric atmosphere inside, but also awkward. The night started with Jimmy Butler and Tom Thibodeau being HEAVILY booed. However, those boos quickly became cheers for Butler as he dominated every facet of the game.
Wolves get bench production. The Wolves got 42 points from their bench unit, a huge boost. Tolliver was 3-7 from three, after not attempting any deep balls in the season opener on Wednesday. The Timberwolves also got a productive Derrick Rose, who recorded 12 points, 8 assists, and 4 rebounds.
Karl-Anthony Towns is looking very active on defense. KAT may still not be the most physically talented defender, but the effort seems to be coming around. Towns racked up 4 blocks tonight, including a crucial stuff at the end of the game.
Andrew Wiggins is looking energetic. Maybe it was because the Cavaliers were in town, but Wiggins has been playing with more energy and effort in the two games so far this season. If that keeps up for the remainder of the year, it will be a big step forward for Wiggins.
Jeff Teague didn’t play his best game. Teague was aggressive in Minnesota’s opener against the Spurs, but he struggled tonight. Teague had some nice passes, recording 7 assists, but the aggression wasn’t there.

Cavaliers:

Kevin Love will fill the stat sheet. With LeBron out of town, it’s Kevin Love’s turn to put up numbers for Cleveland. While it may not result in wins, similar to his days with the Timberwolves, Love will put up numbers. Tonight’s 25 points, 19 rebounds, and 7 assists proved that.
Collin Sexton is fun to watch. Sexton plays with a ton of heart. His energy on the court is noticeable. With 14 points on 6-9 shooting from the field, Sexton showed flashes of why the Cavaliers used their top pick on the Alabama product.
It appears Cedi Osman could have a breakout season. After working out with LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard over the summer, it appears to be paying off for Osman early in the season. With 22 points and 8 rebounds, Osman was the Cavaliers’ second-highest scorer, behind Love.
Although the Cavaliers’ bench produced 45 points, every bench player was a negative plus/minus. For the Cavaliers to be successful this season, they will need to gain leads on teams with their bench, since their starting lineup isn’t full of firepower.


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