MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Timberwolves didn’t just win their first playoff game in 14 years Saturday night, they beat the Rockets by 16 points.
So what did they do right? And can they do it again in Game Four?
In Game Three, Derrick Rose looked like the Derrick Rose of 2009, scoring 17 points off the bench.
Andrew Wiggins looked like the unstoppable force of nature he can be when he wants to be.
Jimmy Butler looked like the unflappable, determined leader they need him to be.
Jeff Teague looked like the offensive stud they moved on from Ricky Rubio to have.
And Karl-Anthony Towns finally figured out how to get involved.
So that formula…what was it that they found?
“We didn’t find anything,” Rose said after the game. “We’re just playing hard, competing.”
Is it that simple?
Does that explain how a team that didn’t exactly shoot threes well during the regular season hit 15 of 27 of them Saturday night?
“Well, we’ll take the 15 for sure,” said Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau. “We know it’s something we need to continue to work on, and hopefully we’ll get better.”
Is it how they scored 121 points — 39 more than they scored in Game 2 — despite Towns not taking a single shot until the second quarter?
“When a team commits a second defender, and sometimes a third, you have to trust the pass, and that creates easy offense for somebody else,” Thibodeau said.
Is it how they held the explosive Rockets offense in check, playing the kind of defense they haven’t played all year?
“The young guys, I think, are learning how important it is,” Thibodeau said. “You can’t rest on defense. I think, as you go through these games, you learn that.”
All the stars aligned for the Timberwolves in Game Three. Apparently, it all started with their attitude.
“You have to play with a lot of energy,” Thibodeau said. “The ball will always find the energy. If you’re being double-teamed, get it out quick, keep moving, hit the offensive boards, re-post, run the floor. That’s how you’ll have to play, that’s how you’ll score.”
And score they did.
But how do they carry it over into Game Four? How do they re-apply the formula?
“I want us to continue to improve,” Thibodeau said. “Like both offensively and defensively. And I know with young guys it takes some time. But you always try to speed up the process to understand what does win in the playoffs.”
Game Four is slated for 7 p.m. Monday at Target Center.