The Minnesota Timberwolves have been among the NBA’s most inconsistent teams, which could be expected considering all of their offseason changes.
The Wolves’ search for an identity will continue on the road Monday night against the Washington Wizards, who are battling their own consistency issues.
Minnesota has lost two straight following a five-game winning streak. The Wolves were outrebounded 47-31 and allowed their highest point total this season in a 137-114 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Sunday.
“Our identity right now is super inconsistent, very Jekyll and Hyde,” Minnesota coach Chris Finch said. “We’re not as physical or tough as I’d like us to be.”
The Wolves shook up their roster in July by acquiring center Rudy Gobert from the Utah Jazz for Malik Beasley, Patrick Beverley, Leandro Bolmaro, Walker Kessler, Jarred Vanderbilt and four first-round draft picks.
The early results have been mixed for Minnesota, which has made the playoffs only twice in the past 18 seasons. Some nights, Gobert looks like a perfect fit and the Wolves are nearly unstoppable. Other times, the team’s offense appears stagnant.
Gobert is averaging 12.7 rebounds a game and remains a force on the defensive end. He also is averaging 13.5 points and figures to contribute more offensively as the season progresses.
Point guard D’Angelo Russell, who is averaging 16.7 points over the last three games, said the Wolves need to be patient.
“Everybody’s coming from different places and things like that, used to doing things different from wherever else they came from,” Russell said. “It’s a process of just trusting and committing to it as a group.”
Minnesota has lost its last five meetings against Washington, which has dropped three straight. The Wizards trailed by as many as 26 in a 130-121 loss to the Boston Celtics on Sunday.
Bradley Beal scored 30 points to lead Washington, while Kristaps Porzingis had 21. The Wizards were without injured players Johnny Davis (groin soreness), Rui Hachimura (right-ankle soreness) and Kyle Kuzma (lower-back pain).
Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. is optimistic that Kuzma could return as soon as Monday.
“I wouldn’t say it was an injury,” Unseld said. “He’s played a lot of minutes. He was complaining of a sore back and got some treatment.”
Beal has at least 20 points in eight consecutive games to lead the Wizards, who are 7-4 at home this season compared with 3-6 on the road.
Washington’s defense has clearly struggled without Hachimura and Kuzma. The team trailed 72-55 at the half against Boston and has allowed an average of 117.7 points during its three-game losing streak.
Point guard Monte Morris returned on Sunday after missing three games due to right-ankle soreness and had 16 points and eight assists in 24 minutes.
The Wizards have received a spark from rookie guard Jordan Goodwin, who was signed to a two-way contract before the season.
The 24-year-old Goodwin is averaging 6.8 points in 13 games while becoming a key part of the team’s rotation.
“He’s getting the opportunity to play, he’s getting the opportunity to showcase what he can do and taking full advantage of it,” Beal said. “I can’t be more proud of him.”
–Field Level Media
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