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Tom Thibodeau on how Rockets limited Karl-Anthony Towns offensively: ‘He’s got to be more active’

Minnesota Timberwolves v Houston Rockets - Game One

HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 15: Clint Capela #15 of the Houston Rockets defends a pass by Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first half during Game One of the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center on April 15, 2018 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

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Karl-Anthony Towns’ lack of touches stood out like his lime-green shoes.

He scored just eight points on 3-of-9 shooting in 40 minutes during the Timberwolves’ Game 1 loss to the Rockets last night. His usage percentage – 14% – ranked just seventh on Minnesota:


Houston’s switch-heavy defensive scheme often left a smaller player covering the 7-foot Towns. Yet, he repeatedly drifted to the corner. When he got good interior position, his teammates rarely passed to him.

How did the Rockets limit him?

Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau:

The switching and the double team. So, he’s got to be more active.
Run the floor, kick the ball out, repost, keep moving around, search it out, get to the offensive board. You’ve got to sprint around. You learn, when teams are double-teaming you, that’s what you have to do. You have to make the right play. And so you also have to get to positions in which where it’s difficult for them to double-team. And so transition’s a big part of that. But you’ve got to run the floor.

It’s a little surprising Thibodeau put the blame so squarely on Towns. He definitely deserves some for his meager offensive output, but some responsibility falls on his teammates. They didn’t get him the ball nearly enough.

Then again, Towns’ moderate usage has been an issue all season. Minnesota just doesn’t seem committed enough to running their offense through the talented center.

His defense was a problem yesterday. He was often slow getting back, allowing Rockets center Clint Capela (24 points and five offensive rebounds) to cook.

I’m sure Thibodeau wants Towns to hustle back more in Game 2 Wednesday. The coach also wants Towns to be more active offensively (which won’t matter much if his teammates keep ignoring him). And Towns is probably in line for another 40 or so minutes.

It’s a lot to ask of him.