NBA

Timberwolves looking to 'maintain edge' at top of West after All-Star break

By Sports Desk February 20, 2024

The Minnesota Timberwolves are top of the Western Conference but know they will have to "maintain that edge" as they return to action following the NBA All-Star break.

Minnesota have not been beyond the first round of the playoffs in 20 years, yet they are in position to earn the number one seed through 55 games, boasting a 39-16 record and a 1.5-game lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The All-Star break has been a busy one for the T-Wolves, with Chris Finch coaching the West outfit, which included Anthony Edwards and team-mate Karl Anthony Towns, who scored 50 points.

The team have also agreed a two-year contract extension with guard Mike Conley Jr., according to reports. He had been set for free agency at the end of the season.

Finch is now hoping he will find a focused team in Minnesota as they seek to build on a superb start to the year.

"We've just got to try to pick up where we left off," he said. "We know the intensity in these games are going to ramp up more and more.

"We've got to make sure that we maintain that edge. We've done a good job of developing a good offensive rhythm in the past few weeks, so we've got to maintain that.

"Hold serve at home; we've got a lot of home games coming up here out of the break. There's lots of things we can do to keep furthering ourselves."

There was an unfamiliar feeling for Finch in the All-Star Game, seeing his team handily beaten by the East in an encounter that drew criticism for its lack of competitive play.

The format may no longer be widely popular, but Finch certainly enjoyed the rare opportunity to coach players like LeBron James and Stephen Curry.

"Looking around the locker room, there's probably 12 first-ballot Hall of Famers in there," he said. "It's something I'll remember forever."

The Timberwolves return against the Milwaukee Bucks at Target Center on Friday.

Related items

  • Caitlin Clark fulfils WNBA dream as Indiana pick college star first in draft Caitlin Clark fulfils WNBA dream as Indiana pick college star first in draft

    Caitlin Clark is living the dream after she was chosen as the first pick in the WNBA draft by the Indiana Fever.

    The 22-year-old is stepping up to the professional league as the most successful college player in history, which has made her the new star of the sport.

    She joins last year’s first pick Aliyah Boston – a former team-mate of hers in the United States Under-19s – at the Fever as the club try to revive their fortunes after again failing to reach the play-offs in 2023.

    Clark said on the WNBA website: “I dreamed of this moment since I was in second grade, and it’s taken a lot of hard work, a lot of ups and downs, but more than anything, just trying to soak it in.

    “Obviously going to an organisation that has, in my eyes, one of the best post players (Boston) in the entire world.

    “My point guard eyes just light up at that. And obviously, Aliyah has been one of my team-mates before. I’m excited. I can’t wait.”

    View this post on Instagram

    A post shared by Indiana Fever (@indianafever)

    Fever head coach Christie Sides said on the club’s website: “Caitlin is one of the most naturally gifted basketball players I have ever seen enter the WNBA from the college level.

    “Her shooting and passing abilities captivated an entire audience of basketball fans, and her ability to make those around her better was even more evident during her collegiate career.

    “We can’t wait to bring her to Indiana and incorporate her into our locker room with a group ready to get back to the postseason.”

    Clark’s Fever career kicks-off in the WNBA opener against the Connecticut Sun on May 14.

  • Joel Embiid 'ready to go' for play-ins – Nurse Joel Embiid 'ready to go' for play-ins – Nurse

    Joel Embiid will be "ready to go" for the Philadelphia 76ers when they host the Miami Heat, coach Nick Nurse has confirmed.

    The reigning MVP sat out the Sixers' 107-86 victory over the Brooklyn Nets in Sunday's regular-season finale at Wells Fargo Center.

    Embiid returned from a two-month lay-off against the Oklahoma City Thunder two weeks ago, but his status has been questionable for every game since. 

    And after missing the Nets game, concerns were raised with regards to his status ahead of Wednesday's 7-8 play-in contest with the Heat.

    However, Nurse allayed any fears regarding the fitness of Embiid, who practised with the rest of his team-mates on Saturday.

    "He did everything at practice yesterday," Nurse said after the Nets win. "But we decided out of caution to hold him out. He'll be ready to go."

    Despite winning their final eight games, the Sixers finished seventh in the Eastern Conference and are set to contest their first play-in contest.

    As a result of other results over the weekend, the Heat now stand between Philadelphia and a place in the playoffs.

    "Obviously, we've had some great battles with them, and we always expect that facing them," Nurse said.

    "The mindset is we're playing well and do everything we can, like we've been doing for the last month.

    "We're digging in and playing our guys and doing whatever we have to do to win. We've got a good mindset, and we'll take that into Wednesday."

  • Allen reportedly agrees to 4-year, $70million extension with Suns Allen reportedly agrees to 4-year, $70million extension with Suns

    When Grayson Allen takes the court for the Phoenix Suns in their first play-off game this weekend, he'll be playing with a new contract.

    Allen and the Suns agreed to a four-year, $70million extension on Monday, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

    The six-year veteran is coming off his best NBA season, averaging career highs of 13.5 points per game, 3.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 0.92 steals while starting 74 of 75 contests.

    He also shot a league-leading 46.1 per cent from 3-point range and averaged a career-best 2.7 made 3-pointers per game.

    He had seven games this season with at least eight made 3-pointers, and only the Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry had more such games with eight.

     

    The 21st overall pick of the 2018 NBA draft by the Utah Jazz, Allen joined the Suns last off-season as part of the three-team trade that saw Damian Lillard go to the Milwaukee Bucks.

    Prior to being acquired by Phoenix, Allen spent one season with the Jazz, two with the Memphis Grizzlies and two in Milwaukee.

    He averaged 9.7 points per game in his first five seasons before becoming an important part of Phoenix's offence in 2023-24.

    In the 30 games Allen scored at least 14 points, the Suns went 22-8, compared to going 27-25 when he scored 13 or fewer.

    Phoenix won 10 of its last 14 games to end the season 49-33, and finish in sixth place in the Western Conference.

    The Suns will face the third-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves in a first-round play-off series, beginning on Saturday.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.