Timberwolves coach Chris Finch has been around the game a long time, worked in a lot of places. But he has rarely seen a shooting slump like the one the Wolves are fighting right now.
"I've never been a part of a team that had so many guys shooting below their [career] percentages,'' Finch said after practice Tuesday, the night after the Wolves lost to an Orlando team that outscored them 43-19 in the fourth quarter on the way to an 18-point win. "Usually there are one or two guys who are not shooting the ball well. But, seemingly other than [Karl-Anthony Towns], everybody is way below their career averages right now.''
The rest of the Wolves starting five is shooting way below their averages. Especially D'Angelo Russell — whose injured ankle could keep him out of Wednesday's game with the Los Angeles Clippers. His .359 overall shooting percentage and .289 percent three-point shooting are way down from career totals of .420 and .350, respectively.
Late Tuesday, all those open looks the team missed eventually bled into the defense, which struggled down the stretch.
"I think [Monday's] game was a good example," said Finch. "Once [Orlando] saw the ball go in a little bit, then everything they threw up seemed to go in no matter who was throwing it up. We're just the opposite right now. That puts more pressure on every single shot and every shot seemingly gets affected. That's how it goes.''
Everyone seems to be feeling it. "We couldn't hit nothing,'' Anthony Edwards said after the game. "That's all I got. We just can't hit enough shots right now.''
To Finch, getting back to the basics of offense. Playing with more pace, playing with more early actions. "Those things have dried up for us,'' Finch said. "[Monday] night we had nine transition opportunities, one of the lowest to date of any game played. The last two games we've had 25 [isolations] that have resulted in nine total points. That's just not how we're going to beat anybody. To continue to try to play that way is suicide. We gotta get back out, move the ball, get everybody involved.''
- Russell, who injured his ankle Monday, did not practice Tuesday, the only Wolves player not available. He could miss Wednesday's game.
- The fact that Patrick Beverley — who missed Monday's game with calf soreness — was able to practice is a good sign for the Wolves' depth at the point guard position should Russell not be available. But it still will require some rotation shuffling for Finch, who has usually had Russell play with the second unit.
- One idea would be to sub out Edwards early, so that he could return and play with the second unit, which would curtail the amount of time Edwards plays with Towns. "Maybe breaking these guys up is better anyway,'' Finch said. "I mean, our second unit has done a great job a lot of times of moving the ball and scoring easier.''