In a pressure-packed Game 5, Timberwolves players each wanted to do too much and they got away from the ball movement and team play that brought them to the playoffs in the first place. Coach Chris Finch said postgame there was too much hero ball.
Those same Timberwolves players held a player’s only meeting to talk about that heading into a win-or-go-home Game 6 on Friday night, reports Chris Haynes of TNT and Yahoo Sports.
The players gathered together following a team film session conducted by head coach Chris Finch, sources said.
Players watched additional film among themselves, challenged each other to play with urgency and to play the right way as well as stressed the importance of moving the ball, sources said. The Timberwolves left the practice facility Wednesday believing they can win two straight games, a player told Yahoo Sports.
It’s a good sign that a young team took it upon themselves to talk and hold each other accountable. After the game, Anthony Edwards had tried to take the blame for the hero ball, although it was a team issue.
Players-only meetings also tend to be overrated for effect — they often don’t do much to change the underlying dynamic that is the problem in the first place. Minnesota is a young team without playoff experience making a lot of inexperienced young-team mistakes in their first playoff run (such as Anthony going for a steal on the final play, opening up a driving lane for Ja Morant to get to the rim for the game-winner). They are learning hard lessons about execution of a game plan and the value of every possession in the postseason, sometimes the hard way. (Memphis is young and making some of those same mistakes, just fewer, plus Morant has bailed them out at points.)
The Grizzlies will be without Steven Adams in Game 6, he entered the league’s COVID health and safety protocols. However, that is not a huge change for Memphis, this has not been a good matchup for him and Adams has played limited minutes most of the series, including a DNP-CD last game.