The coach’s challenge was a wrinkle introduced to the NBA this season. It has, so far, played to mixed reviews.
Following Wednesday’s morning shootaround, Wolves coach Ryan Saunders was asked his opinion and sounded rather noncommittal.
“I just go in and coach each game,” he said. “Whatever the rules are, those are the rules. However many timeouts we get or challenges we get, you have to try to use them to your benefit.”
Tested out first in the G-League, here’s how the process works: An NBA coach has one challenge per game. Coaches need to call a time out before asking for a video review. If the challenge is successful, the team gets its timeout back. Coaches can challenge a fouled called on the team at any time.
Out of bounds and goaltending calls can be challenged in the first 46 minutes of regulation and the first three minutes of overtime.
For the record, Saunders is 0-4 in challenges this year.
A former critic of the rule, Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers had his mind changed Monday in his team’s 90-88 victory over Oklahoma City. With his team leading by a point, Clippers forward Maurice Harkless was whistled for a foul on the Thunder’s Danilo Gallinari with 7.3 seconds left. The foul was overturned. The Thunder got the ball back, but failed to score.
Afterward, Rivers sounded like a new man.
“I’ve changed my opinion,” he told reporters. “I think the challenge is good for the league after all.”
Does Saunders have a strategy for using challenges?
“Typically you don’t necessarily want to use it early in the game,” he said.
But, perhaps there are exceptions. Saunders mentioned an early foul call to a main player, for example.
“I’m not concerned with a challenge record with things as long as it’s strategic with our group,” Saunders said. “It also [could] be icing a free throw shooter at times, things like that. I’ve been looking around the league and I think everybody has a different philosophy.”
Wiggins back in action
After missing two games after a death in the family and a third because of illness, Andrew Wiggins returned to action Wednesday in the rematch with Utah.
Wiggins, who is averaging a career-high 25.9 points per game, said he caught his illness from his daughter.
“I’m excited to get back on the court with my guys,” he said.
Wiggins said the opportunity to watch his team play gave him a new perspective and, perhaps, some new insights.
“You kinda see how every position is being played, the tempo of the game,” he said. “How Utah wants to play, how we are playing. Little things to pick up on.”
The most important thing, after a difficult loss, is being back with the team.
“I’m just happy to get back on the court and be around my family,” Wiggins said.