D'Angelo Russell's return to the floor has introduced a question Timberwolves coach Chris Finch hadn't thought about much but one that he'll consider moving forward: How much does he want to play Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns together and how much would he want them to play apart so as to keep the offense balanced when either needs a rest.
How it looked over Russell's first two games back is unlikely to be the plan moving forward in part because Russell was on a minutes restriction, Finch said.
"I've never really mapped it out yet, I'm just trying to deal with the present situation, and with D-Lo's minutes restriction at about 24, it's more beneficial for us to bring him in off the bench and play like six-minute runs," Finch said.
Finch added Thursday that the number of minutes Russell would play would be changing "in the near future" and that his rotations with Towns would stabilize after that.
"I would see them being able to play together for more extended runs," Finch said. "But having said that, it's also you need to try to split up your scorers so you don't have a drought up there when you have guys with an ability to create their own offense."
That becomes more paramount with the loss of Malik Beasley to a hamstring strain.
In their first two games together since Russell's return, he and Towns shared the floor for 37 minutes. During that time the offense has clicked — the Wolves were averaging an eye-popping 137.5 points per 100 possessions. The defensive efficiency, however, was 122.5.
Reid at the rim
In Year 2, Naz Reid has seen his blocks per game increase from 0.7 to 1.1. Reid plays 19.1 minutes per game. Extrapolate that over 36 minutes and Reid would average two blocks per game. That would tie him for fourth in the league if he were able to maintain the production in starter's minutes.
"It helps our team tremendously, another possession in our hands if we can get the rebound from the blocked shot," Reid said. "Obviously it's a big play in the game."
Reid said he has focused on getting the ball at its highest point to help avoid fouling while trying to block shots at the rim.
"At the highest point the person that has the ball doesn't have the ball anymore, and it's easier to grab there," Reid said.
On the other end of the floor, Reid said a shooting slump earlier in the season had a silver lining — it enabled him to develop more confidence in his ability to drive the ball to the rim. Reid is taking 0.8 more shots from two-point range this season and 0.9 fewer threes.
"Beginning of the year I had my little spell, but other than that, I feel like that little spell helped me gain more confidence in going to the rim," Reid said.
Josh Okogie was back on the floor after missing Wednesday's game because of personal reasons while Jaylen Nowell missed his third consecutive game because of a right tibia bruise. Nowell hurt himself in the first half of Saturday's game against Philadelphia.
Finch said he was hopeful Nowell might return either Sunday or Monday but said Nowell's injury is a tough one to manage.
"That's a bone bruise, so it's a pain tolerance thing and when you have a bone bruise right there on the shin where there's not a lot of meat, it hurts," Finch said. "So, I'm hopeful that we get him back over one of these two back-to-backs, but we'll see."