Early Leads are Fun
The Minnesota Timberwolves aren’t a bad basketball team. Their entered tonight’s game with a 15-17 record, and they haven’t been the trainwreck lottery team that we’re accustomed to watching. Anthony Edwards might be the league’s best athlete, Karl Anthony-Towns can score from anywhere on the court, Pat Beverly headlines a group of scrappy role players, and Head Coach Chris Finch is widely respected by every scout and front office executive.
But for tonight’s game against the Celtics, their roster was decimated by health & safety protocols. No Towns, Edwards, Russell, Beverly, Reid, or Prince. Boston doesn’t exactly have exemplary health, but we assumed Brown and Horford could lead the team to a relatively easy road victory.
Things looked great at the beginning. The game started with an alley-oop to Timelord then a 25-footer from Pritchard, both assisted by Al Horford, returning after a five-game absence. Romeo Langford had an emphatic dunk assisted by a driving Jaylen Brown followed by a nifty offensive rebound put back to put Boston up 11-3. The Celtics were playing with great energy and patience over their first handful of possessions. Minnesota’s temporary starters Jordan McLaughlin and Nathan Knight seemed overmatched.
The Burden of Holding a Lead
Although the Celtics played the opening three-and-a-half minutes with great poise, the Timberwolves went on a 16-3 run over the next five minutes. They hit four threes and assisted on every one of their eight first quarter field goals. Despite their roster full of fringe-NBA players, Minnesota’s zone stifled the Celtics. That’s the book on this team. If Boston’s hot, switching to a zone defense will promptly bring them back to life.
Playing like Juliet’s in attendance
I apologize for the corny joke, but I’m loving the energy Romeo Langford is playing with. He had four first half steals and denied Malik Beasley at the rim on consecutive shots. I’ve generally enjoyed the progress he’s made this season as a disruptor on defense and corner specialist on offense. Despite his 2/8 shooting, it seems like he’s making an impact whenever he’s on the floor. Games like these, when he gets more touches, plays extended minutes, and has the opportunity to initiate offense, will certainly help build his confidence.