The Timberwolves remain the kings of the first quarter. They beat Brooklyn 37–36 in the first 12 minutes of Sunday at the Target Center, marking the 10th consecutive first quarter in which they beat their opponent.
Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said the team learned early in the season the value of a strong start in games. Since then, it has been in the spotlight.
That’s why it made sense for Minnesota to put all of their eggs in the starting basket. This included Patrick Beverley and D’Angelo Russell – the team’s two main point guards – in the starting lineup for the opening of the competition. Finding a third point guard to fill in the minutes when both defensemen were off the court proved difficult at times, but the Wolves felt the challenge was worth it in order to give an advantage to the starting players.
The five-man team of Russell, Beverley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns remains one of the best in basketball according to statistics. However, the same group that started the game so well has been struggling to open the third quarter lately. This suggests that there is something about the way the band starts that leads to early success.
This season, the Timberwolves finished second in first-quarter net rankings in the entire NBA competing in Sunday’s competition. They outscored rivals by 10.6 points per 100 possessions in the first 12 minutes.
Now the key for Minnesota is to keep that success going for 48 minutes.
Beverly missed Sunday’s competition with a right ankle sprain sustained in Thursday’s loss to Atlanta. It’s the 14th game the veteran defender has missed this season due to a combination of injury and illness.
Former Timberwolves assistant coach and defensive coordinator David Vanterpool returned to Target Center as a member of the Brooklyn bench on Sunday after spending the previous two years in Minnesota.
That tenure included the end of last season in which Vanterpool was under Chris Finch, who was named Minnesota’s new head coach to replace Vanterpool after Ryan Saunders was fired.
Finch said he “really enjoyed working with him”. The sides parted ways at the end of the season.
“Obviously, I was in difficult circumstances for everyone,” Finch said. “He was just friendly and very professional. … I didn’t have any relationship with DV and until the end of this season I really enjoyed working with him. Along the way, we’ve made some changes to our defenses, and he’s been instrumental in helping implement them with an open mind.”
Finch told Vanterpool that he would become an NBA head coach at some point.
“When you have that kind of insight and that kind of experience, it’s only a matter of time,” Finch said. “Getting the opportunity is the hardest thing.”
WOLF OWNER, PACKERS FAN?
Yes, it was new Timberwolves owner Alex Rodriguez at Lambo Field on Saturday after the Packers’ division loss to San Francisco. Rodriguez, who attends a number of major national events throughout the year as an avid sports fan, wore a Green Bay cap that angered several Minnesota sports fans on social media.
Rodriguez returned to the field on Sunday supporting the Timberwolves.