Chris Finch can’t fix everything. The Timberwolves must defend themselves – Twin Cities

Timberwolves manager Chris Finch has found ways to plug many of the team’s holes this season by finding the best ways to utilize Karl-Anthony Towns as much juice as possible from the league’s best offense since the transition of the calendar to 2022 and many of them hiding the team’s defensive weaknesses.

However, the latter has become more and more difficult as the season progressed.

Minnesota’s “high wall” pick-and-roll coverage — in which the big man defends the screen hedge to slow the ball handler until the guard can recover — has pressured the ball handler on the pick-and-roll and one rapid decision-making by opponents forced offenses. The look confused many opponents and resulted in high sales volume.

But much like a pitcher going over the hitting order a second or third time, as more teams have seen the coverage, more teams — especially those with high-ranked offenses — have identified and exploited the weaknesses.

Such was the case against Phoenix on Wednesday night when Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and co. dissected Minnesota’s defense with ease in a 42-point fourth-quarter result. In Monday’s game against Dallas, the Mavericks fired 33 “wide open” shots on Minnesota’s 13, according to

“In the end we only lose. We don’t execute and our defenses just get destroyed. I think we need to make adjustments,” said Anthony Edwards. “I just think if they adapt then we have to adapt like they did in the fourth. Like the high wall. They would pull it out, the guy hitting rollers, have a cutter and have a guy in the corner, so we had to pick one and we just never adjusted.

It sounds good, doesn’t it? Make changes to reporting to help Phoenix find new answers to a different question. The problem is that Finch and company have been looking for another defense to use for months. The Wolves have tried different covers for precisely this reason — knowing that the best teams can’t be beaten with the same look over and over again — and Minnesota failed to execute all of them.

Her drop cover has been wiped out. Their Switch-heavy approach led to tons of misunderstandings. The different approaches resulted in Minnesota being slashed again and again just before the All-Star break.

The high wall seems to be the cover that the Timberwolves can successfully run on a consistent basis. It almost has to be her go-to coverage. And on Wednesday, Finch said Minnesota executed 19 “high wall” looks defensively and executed 12 of them well.

Whatever look you pull off, if you don’t do it with intensity and purpose, it’s not going to work anyway. Schema is not everything. The same Minnesota “drop coverage” doesn’t look good when Milwaukee runs it with Jrue Holiday and Brook Lopez.

“Certainly coverage matters, you know? They affect how a team plays and stuff, but at the end of the day if you do a coverage perfectly and now you have a grenade defense and the guy blows past you and puts it in, what is that? said finch. “Or the guy misses and on the weak side’s rebound you don’t box out and it goes out of the hands and then they throw it in and hit a dagger three. What is it? Is that a mismatch? I’m not sure that’s the case.”

Finch recognized that Minnesota makes choices with its reporting. Wednesday was the decision to take the ball out of Booker’s hands. This resulted in Ayton getting some looks inside. He used these to score 35 points.

“This is a good team, they have a lot of good players,” said Finch. “Someone will score points.”

But these points don’t always have to come so easily. The “low man” – the defender coming in from the corner shooter to defend the rolling screener at the basket – is said to offer resistance to Ayton, who scores a low hit. Too often this player just stood there with no effort to slow down the Phoenix star center.

“We weren’t playing with a lot of power when we met those guys there on the edge,” Finch said. “We didn’t fight very well, whether it was six-foot shots or 20-foot shots.”

And this is the problem. There are a number of players on Minnesota’s roster who haven’t been very good defensively in the past. That they’ve managed to squeeze out a defense that ranks in the top half of the league is thanks to the coaches for their innovative approach and, yes, the players for their execution.

But when opponents are no longer cheated by the scheme, as is the case with Minnesota’s current streak of difficult opponents, players simply need to take their defensive efforts to another level when they can.

Finch can’t be the answer to everything. Chris Finch can’t fix everything. The Timberwolves must defend themselves – Twin Cities

Jessica MacLeish

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