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Does KAT need to ‘demand’ more touches on offense?

The Timberwolves played well in Game 1 and lost to the No. 1 seed, shoot-you-out-of-the-gym Houston Rockets. James Harden had 44 points and the Wolves still were within one smart possession of tying the game at the end of the 4th quarter.

Karl-Anthony Towns is one of the best and most efficient offensive players in the NBA. He scored 8 points and shot 3-of-9 from the field Sunday. Maybe more to the point, Towns took just 9 shots all night. He played a team-high 40 minutes.

Here’s a look at Minnesota’s usage rate in Game 1, among the players that got most of the time on the floor:

Rose, 30.8%
Teague, 26.4%
Wiggins, 25.7%
Crawford, 22.2%
Butler, 15.6%
Towns, 14.2%
Gibson, 12.6%

Source: NBA.com

There’s one important thing to point out before we ask the question that we came here to ask. A lot of times in the NBA it’s not as simple as saying that Team X should replace all of its bad possessions with the best alternatives. Maybe it could be that simple here, though.

Charles Barkley said after the game on the TNT studio show that Towns ought to be commanding the basketball. He criticized Minnesota for failing to exploit matchups after Houston switched defensively on screen action. Maybe the Wolves ought to have Butler take advantage of size mismatches more often against Houston. Or perhaps Minnesota could run more of the offense through Towns — a mismatch for just about anybody.

That’s a harsh statement about the players, but it also says a lot of about coaching.

Barkley was not the only one critical of No. 8 Minnesota’s execution Sunday.

And I think they have a valid point. Sometimes we get too far removed from the idea that the other team has a game plan, that they’re very good at basketball, and thus you might not get to play to your strengths all the time. But with that being said, it sure seemed like the Wolves could have called Towns’ number more often than they did Sunday night.

Within the flow of the game, they could have found him in the post more than they did, especially in the second half. And if Houston goes to smaller lineup, Towns has shown the range to be able to stretch the floor. Instead, the Wolves had a run of possessions in the second half that were Gorgui Dieng in isolation, Jamal Crawford heaves or Derrick Rose fighting to get separation and get a shot up. In an ideal world for Minnesota, those ought to be nothing more than change-of-pace possesions.

We’ll see if the Wolves have an answer for Game 2.

James Harden too much for Wolves in Game 1





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Previous Story Barkley on Timberwolves: They’ve got to be one of the dumbest teams I’ve ever seen Next Story Wolves Notebook: Stars and goats of Game 1; what to expect from Houston in Game 2