D'Angelo Russell has been on a minutes restriction in the mid 20s ever since returning from knee surgery April 5, but Timberwolves coach Chris Finch indicated Monday that the point guard's minutes will start to increase to around 30 per game.
Finch said he and Russell discussed his role further Tuesday morning and Russell will continue to come off the bench for now.
"It's the plan eventually to get him into the starting lineup, but we're all comfortable where he is," Finch said. "He's basically a starter for us. He finishes games and I like the chemistry that he and J-Mac [Jordan McLaughlin] have. Takes some of the burden off him."
Finch did say he was looking at how the first unit was performing without Russell to start the game and they have had some struggles scoring of late.
For now, Finch likes how Russell is meshing with that second unit, and if Russell has to skip minutes at some point during the game, it might as well be earlier than later.
"In general the second unit has been really good and D-Lo has been a part of that," Finch said. "He's been able to create and out there with a defensive-oriented lineup that can get stops and get out and run and do things that benefit him and everyone else.
"If you take him out of the second unit and put him in the starting unit, you have to rejig many of your rotations in general. Obviously, you don't want to leave yourself exposed."
Fixing transition defense
One of the biggest issues for the Wolves this season has been transition defense.
Entering Tuesday they were last in the league in fast-break points allowed at 15.5 per game. Their transition defense also affects their poor three-point defense (teams shoot the best from three-point range against the Wolves than any other team).
Finch spoke Tuesday about ways the Wolves have been trying to improve that. One way Finch said was to "be more of a presence" on the offensive glass.
That could seem counterintuitive. Crashing the boards might lead to more transition opportunities and keeping players back might prevent more transition.
"This is a great debate," Finch said. "I think you can certainly get back in numbers, but what ends up happening is guys get back in no man's land and you kind of get caught in this middle ground.
The reality is, if someone is willing to race it up and shoot a three, there is not a lot you can do about it."
Attacking the offensive glass could also keep teams "penned in" as Finch said and make it harder to get the ball to guards who might ignite a break.
In the end, there's no better transition defense than a made shot, Finch said.
"I really believe one of the best ways to stop transition is to score or put as much pressure on them getting the ball easily," Finch said.
Reid lightens up
Naz Reid, who has become a staple on the Wolves' second unit, said he's dropped 30 pounds from last season to play quicker and lighter.
"I'm quick off the ground. I just feel way better," Reid said. "My body feels way better. Those are two things that I couldn't do when I first got here."
Reid credited his transformation to strength and conditioning coach Bill Burgos and his assistant Kurt Joseph.
"A lot of weights, treadmill, things like that," Reid said. " It's not something that I haven't been used to before. It wasn't as hard.
"Now I just have to stay at the weight I'm at."