DALLAS – After the Timberwolves defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night at Target Center, coach Tom Thibodeau said he met with guard Jimmy Butler to see if Butler would make the trip to Dallas for Saturday night’s game.
According to Thibodeau, they came to a collective decision that Butler would not play on back-to-back nights. Butler still is working to ramp up his conditioning after missing much of the preseason since making a trade request of the Wolves more than a month ago.
“Basically he’s been there a week and we have three in four [games] to start if off and we have another game coming back [Monday],” Thibodeau said before starting rookie Josh Okogie in Butler’s place when the Wolves played the Mavericks. “We just want to be smart in how we manage that. I think you’re seeing that around the league.”
Butler wasn’t the only high-profile player to rest on the second night of consecutive games in the first few days of the NBA season. The Raptors rested Kawhi Leonard while the Celtics did the same with Gordon Hayward.
Butler, who has always been among the league leaders in minutes per game, played 36 minutes and had 33 points in the Wolves’ 131-123 victory on Friday. He also played 31 minutes in Wednesday night’s season opener at San Antonio.
Butler did not travel with the team to Dallas.
“I knew going in that just looking at the schedule, the amount of time that he’s practiced, I knew we would talk after [Friday’s] game,” Thibodeau said. “That’s what I wanted, too. Obviously, I wanted his input but I wanted to be smart about it.”
Tolliver chucking it up
The Wolves brought in forward Anthony Tolliver during the offseason in an effort to bolster their three-point shooting. But in Wednesday’s season opener against the Spurs, Tolliver only took one shot, and it wasn’t a three.
Last season with Detroit, Tolliver took at least one three-pointer in the 79 games he played.
Friday against the Cavaliers he got back at it, firing up seven and hitting three from beyond the arc to score 11 points.
Tolliver wasn’t fretting his night Wednesday, and just by being on the floor he knows he can help space the defense and make it easier for teammates to drive and score should opponents choose to focus on him.
“That’s a big piece of what I bring to the table,” said the 33-year-old Tolliver, who is beginning his 11th NBA season and his second stint with the Wolves, one of nine teams he has played for in his professional career. “The magnet is going to be on me to try to run me off the line or keep me from catching the ball. The gaps for all those guys are going to be wider than normal.”
• Karl-Anthony Towns on teammate Jeff Teague, who had two dunks in the first two games despite saying he was done with dunking. “That’s Jeff,” Towns said. “Jeff can still windmill and everything. He’s just old. I don’t know what to tell you. He still has some in the tank, though.”
• The Wolves’ 22 three-point attempts per game entering Saturday were the second-lowest in the league, only ahead of Friday’s opponent, Cleveland. The Wolves’ nine steals per game were tied for fifth.
Staff writers Jerry Zgoda and Michael Rand contributed to this report.