With a schedule filled with a constant stream of games, the break the Wolves got this week was special.
After coming back from 21 down to win in Chicago Tuesday, the Wolves had a day of rest, then two full days of practice to get ready for Saturday’s game with red-hot Houston; the Rockets take an eight-game winning streak into tonight’s home game with New Orleans. Then they get to fly a charter to the Twin Cities in the middle of a snowstorm.
We all know Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau relishes the opportunity for such practices, which have been in short supply. “For us, we have to practice,” Thibodeau said Friday afternoon. “In our shootarounds, we’re practicing. Because we need it. We have to build our foundation. When you have players as young as our main guys are, that’s important.’’
The good things is the Wolves have a very strong win to build off of. Indeed, after practice Friday Gorgui Dieng said the win against the Bulls was special. “I think, in Chicago, that’s the first time we played team basketball.’’
That’s a pretty powerful statement. But, if true, it may point to a team perhaps learning what it takes to play successful defense on a game-by-game basis. “That ball was moving,” Dieng said. “It didn’t matter who scored. And defensively, we were all talking. I know you guys hear a lot, coach talks a lot about being connected. I think we were connected in that game. We do that, we have a chance to win games.’’
Houston will provide a very good challenge, with their ability to hit the three, drive the lane, get to the free throw line. The Rockets have made at least 10 three-pointers in 25 games heading into Friday’s game with New Orleans and are the league’s second-highest scoring team (112.8).
“It’s not going to be easy,” Dieng said. “But we’ll try to match it the right way. I think if we play defensively the way we played in Chicago, I think we can match up with any team.’’
--Thibodeau said everyone was health and available to practice today. With the exception of Nikola Pekovic, of course.