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In recent years having
10-10-2018, 10:06 AM
Beitrag #1
In recent years having
HOUSTON — At first blush the Minnesota Timberwolves got what they wanted in Game 1 on Sunday Ed Dickson Color Rush Jersey , limiting the Houston Rockets to a substandard shooting performance from the perimeter after being overrun by a hail of 3-pointers while being dismantled in all four regular-season meetings.

But what went wrong proved costly for Minnesota. Despite the sound strategy of running multiple bodies in the direction of Rockets All-Star guard James Harden, the Timberwolves’ defense resembled a sieve as Harden produced 44 points and eight assists in a 104-101 victory.

If the Timberwolves can again harass Houston into 10-for-37 shooting from behind the arc on Wednesday at Toyota Center in Game 2 of this Western Conference first-round playoff series, they will have met one of their primary objectives. However, preventing Harden from torching their defense is a game plan that must be executed in concert with blanketing the 3-point line.

“It’s got to be a lot better,” said Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler, who drew the primary assignment on Harden. “I’ve got to do my job more effectively. What do you want: a free throw, a 3-pointer, a layup? He got whatever he wanted in that game and I’ve got to be better at taking it away.

“He’s a (heck) of a player; everybody knows that. But you don’t just guard him with one guy, it’s everybody out there. Everybody has to be in the correct position to challenge shots Jason Spezza Jersey , contest him at the rim. If there is a miss we’ve got to get the rebound and take off the other way. But we didn’t do any of that. We’ve got to be better on Wednesday.”

Another goal for Minnesota is to unlock a method to better utilize the supreme talents of All-Star center Karl-Anthony Towns on offense. Towns was second on the team in scoring during the regular season, averaging 21.3 points while attempting 14.3 shots per game. In the series opener, he tallied eight points on nine shots and was unable to take advantage of the situation when he occasionally worked against smaller defenders in the Rockets’ switch-oriented defense.

The Timberwolves nearly overcame Towns’ lack of production by relying on a multitude of contributors. Five players scored in double figures led by Andrew Wiggins‘ 18 points and the combined 28 points from the starting backcourt of Jeff Teague and Butler. Reserves Jamal Crawford and Derrick Rose totaled 31 points on 11-of-25 shooting to provide needed balance.

“The important thing is it’s not a one-on-one game, and so everyone has to understand that,” Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau said. “If they’re going to double team that means it’s going to be easy for other people and if they’re going to switch we have to make the right reads. If we’re making the right play the game will tell you who’s going to get the shots. And as long as we take good shots then I think we’re going to score.”

Per usual, the Rockets shook off their poor shooting as an anomaly and relished their ability to thrive in the paint instead. Houston outpaced the bigger Timberwolves 54-44 on paint points with Harden feasting both on driving layups and pinpoint passes to center Clint Capela, who finished 10 of 15 for 24 points. Harden produced six layups or dunks and assisted on six more, fueling an offense often described as 3-point depended yet again proved versatile and efficient.

“I think every single night we take what the defense gives us,” Harden said. “Unfortunately Mark Andrews Jersey , we didn’t knock down the 3-ball — Game 2 that will be different — but just getting to the basket, finishing, not only myself but Chris (Paul), Clint, the entire team. We’re not going to try to force anything. We’re going to take what they give us and have confidence in our shot. That’s all we’ve been doing and that’s the reason why we’re here.”

The youth of the Colorado Avalanche has been a big part of a playoff push but is encountering some speedbumps recently.

A week ago, the Avalanche were in a strong position to make the postseason a year after earning just 48 points, but a sudden stop to the offense has contributed to losing three of four and dropping a point out of the second wild card in the Western Conference with five games left heading into Friday’s home game against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Colorado (41-28-8) has scored four regulation goals in the last four games and snuck a win against Vegas in a shootout last Saturday.

“Everybody goes through spurts where you don’t score as much as you’d like to,” Avalanche right winger Blake Comeau said after Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. “When that happens, you have to buckle down defensively.”

The goal drought has come at an unfortunate time.

Top goaltender Semyon Varlamov Womens Melvin Gordon Jersey , who has played in 21 straight games, missed Wednesday’s game with an illness. His backup, Jonathan Bernier, is dealing with an infection in his left hand from a cut so Andrew Hammond was recalled from the AHL to start against the Flyers.

He gave up two goals in the first period but settled down to make 31 saves in his Avalanche debut.

The good news for Colorado is Varlamov and Bernier may both be available against Chicago. Varlamov worked on the ice Thursday and Bernier said he is ready to go, although coach Jared Bednar said he won’t decide on a starter until the morning of the game.

The Avalanche will need both in a tough finish to the season. Three of the last five games are against teams it is now chasing for the two wild card spots — Anaheim, Los Angeles and St. Louis. The bad news is the only non-playoff team the Avalanche face is Chicago.

The Blackhawks are coping with an unexpected demise from the No. 1 seed in the 2017 Western Conference playoffs to out of the postseason picture that is leaving fans nostalgic for the good days of three Stanley Cup titles from 2010-15.

So, it is not surprising there was plenty of recognition of defenseman Brent Seabrook playing in his 1,000th career game during Thursday night’s 6-2 win over Winnipeg.

It is a milestone game at the end of a disappointing year that will not include the postseason for the first time in 10 years. Chicago is firmly entrenched in last place in the Central Division, a spot previously occupied by Friday’s opponent Zdeno Chara Jersey , the Colorado Avalanche.

Chicago is infusing young players into the lineup and defenseman Blake Hillman could make his NHL debut soon after signing a two-year deal this week.

In recent years having the Blackhawks on the schedule was a negative, but with major injuries — center Jonathan Toews is out, as is goaltender Corey Crawford — and a look at young players, Colorado can earn two vital points Friday night.

The Blackhawks (32-36-10) are looking for some hope that this season is an aberration. But with the core of the team aging, chances are this might be the near future Chicago fans can expect.

“I think next year’s team is going to look very similar to this year’s team, not identical,” general manager Stan Bowman said in February. “We’re going to have some changes.”

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