After a huge off-season trade to bring in Jimmy Butler (among others), the Timberwolves seemed primed for a rise in the standings. With Coach Tom Thibodeau at the helm and young stars Karl-Anthony Towns & Andrew Wiggins improving, the Wolves expected a step forward into the leagues upper echelon. However, due to an injury to Butler & some shoddy defense, the Wolves finished in a somewhat disappointing 8th seed.
Why They Will Win
To counter James Harden, there are few better options than Jimmy Butler. Karl Anthony Towns can take over games when he’s locked in, and Houston has nobody who can match up. As well, I believe they have a huge advantage at the HC position, as Mike D’Antoni is simply not a great playoff coach.
Why They Won’t
Tom Thibodeau was expected to take this defense to the next level. While they have improved (how could you not with Jimmy Butler), they rank 23rd in the league with a 108.4 defensive rating. This wouldn’t hurt against some teams, but they’re playing an all-time great offense, and two of the best guards in the game today.
Towns. Simply put, the best chance Minnesota has is for KAT to absolutely dominate when Houston goes small. he is a rare talent at the 4 or 5, and he needs to dominate on both ends. If Karl can make Houston play small as little as possible, I believe the Timberwolves will be in a much better spot. As well, he needs to play great defense against Clint Capela when he’s in the game. Capela dominates the T-Wolves (averaging 18.8 & 10 REB’s), so he definitely needs to slow down the roll man.
Best Case Scenario:
KAT can take over the games when Houston goes small, Jimmy Butler locks down James Harden & Minnesota sends Houston home early.
Worst Case Scenario:
Minnesota is swept in the first round, all while Thibs sits his younger stars & plays old vets.