By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The countdown is on to Friday night’s home opener for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The team is taking on the Utah Jazz at 7 p.m. at the Target Center.

They are 0-and-1 after losing in San Antonio, but they hope a redone arena and a redone roster, with a now familiar coach, breathe new life.

GALLERY: Target Center Unveils $140 Million Renovations

The Timberwolves are leaning on Jimmy Butler to carry them to new heights. His work ethic is part of what they hope sets the tone.

“Well it’s veteran experience. Very pleased with the way he’s playing,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “Very unselfish, guards everybody, scores a lot of different ways.”

Friday night they will unveil their new roster in a remodeled Target Center.

That’s important to fans, but of less concern to coach Thibs, who is a basketball purist, completely committed to his craft.

“The guy is constantly in there watching film,” Butler said. “So it’s like, ‘Yo, Thibs, remember this play?’ and he can beat you to it. ‘Yeah, I know exactly what play you’re talking about, at 2:53 in the second quarter.’ It’s like, ‘Damn, Thibs,’ you know? But, he knows.”

Maybe more important is this group has the same coach for a second year, so they know what to expect.

“It’s a lot easier to understanding the plays, because a lot of the plays we’re running we learned them already last year, and it’s a lot easier,” Gorgui Dieng said.

But maybe what will carry this team to the playoffs — if it finally gets there — is a talent mixed with a passion.

“Damn, I’m so happy and fortunate that I get to play basketball every day, and I don’t know what else to do,” Butler said. “It’s crazy.”


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