A week ago the Wolves played host to the Memphis Grizzlies in their sixth of seven preseason games. On Wednesday the Wolves will open the regular season vs. the Grizzlies in Memphis. After playing at Sacramento on Saturday, the Wolves will return home to play the Grizzlies in Tuesday’s home opener.
That’s a lot of Grizzlies.
“They’re going to know our plays,” Wolves center Karl-Anthony Towns said. “But we have to make sure we know them better than they know us.”
Schedule oddities such as this happen at times during the season. But the fact the Wolves played Memphis in the preseason makes it a bit odder.
Of course, the difference in intensity between preseason and regular season is significant. The Wolves won last week. The Grizzlies were without Chandler Parsons (who will also miss the opener because of knee problems). Center Marc Gasol, coming back from an ankle injury, only played 20 minutes, as did point guard Mike Conley.
“They’ll be a lot different tomorrow,” Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said after Tuesday’s practice. “We have to be ready. Gasol is one of the elite centers in the world, Conley is one of the elite point guards.”
As for playing Memphis so many times in a short time?
“Sometimes that’s the way it is,” Thibodeau said. “If you ever get to the playoffs, you’re facing the same team. So it’s good for us to have that type of preparation. But you take it as it comes. We’ll be ready.”
The D-League will experiment with some rules changes, at least two of which Thibodeau likes.
The changes include resetting the shot clock to 14 seconds rather than 24 seconds after an offensive rebound, a 75-second limit on the duration of instant replay reviews and giving each team a “reset timeout” in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime periods. The reset timeout wouldn’t allow a team to huddle up, but would allow the ball to be advanced.
“In the international game the reset is to 14 seconds, and I think that’s a great rule,” Thibodeau said. “It’s exciting. You’re seeing a lot of things off the offensive rebound, so I think we’ll see that [in the NBA] eventually.”
Thibodeau isn’t sold on the reset timeout. But he likes the 75-second limit on reviews.
“If you can’t draw a conclusion in 75 seconds, we should leave [a call] as is,” he said. “Technology is wonderful. And it’s moving fast. We want to get the call right. But we also don’t want to prolong the game where it hurts the product.”
• Thibodeau said he didn’t think the Wolves will be looking to send any players to the D-League. Most of the team’s young players are starting or in the rotation anyway.
“And for young guys who aren’t playing, I think it’s better for them to be here right now,” he said. “I like them in practice, getting an understanding of what we’re doing.”
•With the World Series between the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland starting Tuesday, Thibodeau was asked if he was a Cubs fan.
“I’m a Tony LaRussa fan,” he replied, referring to his friend, who is currently in Arizona. “I’ll say this: Chicago is a great sports town, and I know the people there are so excited about it and they should be. But I’ve jumped around. Initially I was a Red Sox fan. Then I became a White Sox fan. Then I became a St. Louis fan. Now I’m a Cubs fan, OK?”
Thibodeau spent five years coaching the Chicago Bulls, whose owner, Jerry Reinsdorf, also owns the White Sox.