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Make It, Take It: Communication Remains The Timberwolves’ Biggest Issue, On And Off The Court

Getty Image LOS ANGELES — The Minnesota Timberwolves need to talk. It’s a simple statement that is accurate at many levels, even if in some instances it’s too late for some conversations to fix things off the court. The Wolves needed their star players to talk last year to come to an understanding on how…

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Make It, Take It: Communication Remains The Timberwolves’ Biggest Issue, On And Off The Court

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LOS ANGELES — The Minnesota Timberwolves need to talk.

It’s a simple statement that is accurate at many levels, even if in some instances it’s too late for some conversations to fix things off the court. The Wolves needed their star players to talk last year to come to an understanding on how to play together. They needed Jimmy Butler to more clearly explain his desire to move on to Tom Thibodeau earlier in the offseason rather than later. They needed (and, really, still do) Thibs and Glen Taylor to talk and figure out how to get on the same page when moving Butler.

On the court, that communication breakdown is a problem as well. The Wolves have the second worst defensive rating in the NBA at 114.6, which is somehow worse than their 110.1 rating from a year ago that saw them finish 25th in the league. Part of it is personnel, as the mixture of aging veterans and young players at times still finding their way hasn’t meshed, but so many of their problems simply come down to a lack of communication, which leads to players not being on a string.

“It’s all about everybody talking and knowing everybody else’s assignments, because you never know who you’re going to guard in transition,” Butler said after the 114-110 loss. “I think the season’s still young, but we can’t use that excuse too much longer because these games come around quick.”

Against the Lakers on Wednesday night, it was painfully obvious at times that the Wolves simply weren’t talking out coverages enough. There was a pick-and-roll where Jimmy Butler went to switch and Derrick Rose fought over the top, leaving a man wide open and then, again because the communication wasn’t there, both players chased back thinking they were the one that had left their assignment. There was a baseline inbounds play late where Andrew Wiggins thought they were switching and let LeBron James dart to the corner uncovered for an uncontested jumper (that he missed), while Wiggins turned around gesturing at the frontcourt for an explanation after the fact. Throughout the game the Lakers could seemingly get a good shot provided they did the bare minimum of moving the basketball and forcing the Timberwolves defense to move and rotate, because inevitable a link in the chain would break.

And still, despite their defensive miscues and allowing the Lakers to shoot 48.4 percent from the field and 44.1 percent from three — L.A.’s second best mark of the season — Minnesota was in the game late thanks to Derrick Rose’s 7-for-9 night from three-point range and some timely Jimmy Butler buckets late. Karl-Anthony Towns, however, might as well have been absent after the first quarter. The All-Star center came out on fire, with nine points and four boards early to take advantage of what has been a mediocre at best Lakers frontcourt, and it looked like we were in for a big night from him.

And then, as has been the case all too often this season, Towns disappeared. He finished the game with 13 points and nine rebounds, going 2-of-10 from the field after the opening quarter and often settling for outside shots after getting manhandled inside by the newly acquired, 36-year-old Tyson Chandler.

With Towns rendered obsolete on offense, the Wolves leaned on Butler and Rose for their offense and it almost worked, but the lack of balance was stark and even if improved, leaning on Rose’s three-point shooting seems like an unsustainable offensive strategy. The Timberwolves need Towns active and engaged throughout the game, and when asked afterwards what the team can do and what Towns can do to have better sustained performances, coach Tom Thibodeau wasn’t exactly forthcoming.

“We just gotta figure it out,” Thibodeau bristled.

That quote embodies the Timberwolves this season. The idea that at this point they’ll just “figure it out” and get the pieces to work together without communicating with each other as to why things may not be working is why this team is destined to fall back into mediocrity. At 4-8 they’re tied with the Suns and Mavs in the loss column and as Butler noted the “season is young” excuse is quickly losing its merit.

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Redskins vs. Titans odds, line: Picks, best predictions from proven computer model on 16-6 roll – CBS Sports

The Tennessee Titans and Washington Redskins, two teams in desperate need to stay alive in the NFL playoff picture, meet up in Nashville at 4:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. Tennessee (8-6) likely needs to win out and have help to make the playoffs. Washington (7-7) is in a similar boat, but is down to a…

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Redskins vs. Titans odds, line: Picks, best predictions from proven computer model on 16-6 roll – CBS Sports

The Tennessee Titans and Washington Redskins, two teams in desperate need to stay alive in the NFL playoff picture, meet up in Nashville at 4:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. Tennessee (8-6) likely needs to win out and have help to make the playoffs. Washington (7-7) is in a similar boat, but is down to a fourth-string quarterback and ravaged by injuries. Overall, the Redskins’ path to the postseason appears much more challenging. Vegas agrees, setting Tennessee as an 11-point favorite in the latest Redskins vs. Titans odds, up from an open of 10. The over-under, or total number of points oddsmakers believe will be scored, is 37.5 after opening at 37. The weather won’t be a factor, as the forecast is calling for temperatures in the 40s, sunny skies, and light winds. Before making any Redskins vs. Titans picks and predictions for this critical battle, be sure to check out the projections from SportsLine’s Projection Model.

The advanced computer model simulates every NFL game 10,000 times, and those who have followed it have seen massive returns. SportsLine’s proprietary computer model went 176-80 last season and beat more than 95 percent of CBS Office Pool players in 2016 and ’17. It also performed better than 98 percent of experts tracked by NFLPickWatch.com during that span. Additionally, it went 48-34 on A-rated picks against the spread last season, and $100 bettors who followed it the past two seasons are up nearly $4,000. 

The model has continued to nail its top-rated picks in 2018, entering Week 16 on a blistering 16-6 run. For the season, it is now 30-15 on all top-rated picks, extending its two-year run to a strong 78-49. And when it comes to all straight-up picks, the model finished Week 14 at 147-75 on the season, ranking in the top five on NFLPickWatch.com. 

Now the model has dialed in on Redskins vs. Titans (stream live on fuboTV) 10,000 times. We can tell you the model is leaning Over, but it also says one side of the spread hits in well over 50 percent of simulations. You can only see that one over at SportsLine. 

The model knows the Redskins will once again be looking to ride their running game given their calamitous quarterback situation with Josh Johnson as their fourth starting QB of the year. Johnson was able to use his legs to extend drives last week against Jacksonville, rushing for 49 yards, and Adrian Peterson added 51 more in a win over the Jaguars

That victory as 7.5-point underdogs helped get the Redskins back to .500 and keeps their playoff hopes intact at 7-7. Against a Titans defense that has allowed 408 yards rushing in the last two weeks, Peterson, Johnson and Chris Thompson should have room to maneuver in Week 16.

Just because the Redskins are coming off a huge upset victory doesn’t mean they’ll cover on Saturday.

The model also knows the Titans are feeling extremely confident thanks to the recent breakout performances by running back Derrick Henry. His 2018 campaign looked like a bust when he entered Week 14 with just 474 yards and five touchdowns on the season, but he’s exploded since that point, steamrolling the Jaguars for 238 yards and four touchdowns and then following that up with 170 yards and two more scores against the Giants

His dominance has paid dividends for the entire roster, taking pressure off quarterback Marcus Mariota and keeping Tennessee’s defense fresh and off the field. The Titans have given up just nine total points in the last two weeks and dominated time of possession against New York, 35:21 to 24:39.

Who wins Redskins vs. Titans? And which side of the spread hits in well over 50 percent of simulations? Visit SportsLine now to see which side you need to be all over on Saturday, all from the incredible computer model that has returned nearly $4,000 to $100 bettors.

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Cardiff City vs. Manchester United – Football Match Report – December 22, 2018 – ESPN

playSolskjaer off to dazzling start, City stunned (1:58)Steve Nicol rounds up a big day in the Premier League with Man City and Chelsea beaten at home and Man United thrashing Cardiff. (1:58)Ole Gunnar Solskjaer enjoyed the perfect start to life as Manchester United manager with an emphatic 5-1 victory away at former club Cardiff –…

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Cardiff City vs. Manchester United – Football Match Report – December 22, 2018 – ESPN
play
Solskjaer off to dazzling start, City stunned (1:58)

Steve Nicol rounds up a big day in the Premier League with Man City and Chelsea beaten at home and Man United thrashing Cardiff. (1:58)

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer enjoyed the perfect start to life as Manchester United manager with an emphatic 5-1 victory away at former club Cardiff — the first time they had scored five since Sir Alex Ferguson’s last match in charge in 2013.

Solskjaer was named caretaker manager of United following Jose Mourinho’s sacking on Tuesday. One of the question marks over his appointment was a disappointing spell as Cardiff boss, which saw them relegated to the Championship.

One of the criticisms levelled at Mourinho included his unwillingness to pick players from the academy — and Solskjaer immediately remedied that by including James Garner and Angel Gomes in his first squad.

And he couldn’t have wished for a better start as United took the lead within three minutes.

With United’s players looking more comfortable on the ball, Paul Pogba won a free kick on the edge of the Cardiff box. The Frenchman looked set to take it before leaving it to Marcus Rashford, who sent a swerving effort past Neil Etheridge.

There was a swagger back to United’s play as they dominated possession, and were 2-0 ahead on 29 minutes after Ander Herrera’s deflected effort found its way into the back of the net.

Despite United’s dominance, Cardiff were back in the game on 38 minutes when Rashford was adjudged to have handled and Victor Camarasa pulled a goal back from the penalty spot.

However, the visitors ensured they would take a two-goal lead into the break as Anthony Martial finished off a superb passing move including Pogba and Jesse Lingard.

United came out for the second half intent on adding to their advantage as they played with an air of confidence and Pogba almost sent Rashford through with a no-look pass.

And it was 4-1 on 56 minutes as Lingard dusted himself down to stroke home from the penalty spot, having been bundled over in the box.

The style of play was often criticised under Mourinho, but United looked a side transformed in the Welsh capital.

Victor Lindelof epitomised the change in emphasis under Solskjaer as the Sweden international played the ball out of defence before playing in Rashford, who shot wide — and Pogba then forced a brilliant save from Etheridge with a long-range effort.

Lingard added another in stoppage time as United scored a fifth — something they had not achieved since Ferguson’s final match — a 5-5 draw at West Brom.

The victory brought United back up to sixth place and eight points behind Chelsea in the final Champions League place, while Cardiff remain two points clear of Burnley in the final relegation place.

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Is LeBron James the best comparison to Zion Williamson? | The Will Cain Show – ESPN

Published on Dec 22, 2018Will Cain questions whether Duke Blue Devils basketball freshman Zion Williamson can be compared to NBA greats such as LeBron James, Charles Barkley or Blake Griffin, or if people are giving him too much credit.✔ Subscribe to ESPN on YouTube: http://es.pn/SUBSCRIBEtoYOUTUBE✔ Subscribe to ESPN FC on YouTube: http://bit.ly/SUBSCRIBEtoESPNFC✔ Subscribe to NBA…

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Is LeBron James the best comparison to Zion Williamson? | The Will Cain Show – ESPN


Published on Dec 22, 2018

Will Cain questions whether Duke Blue Devils basketball freshman Zion Williamson can be compared to NBA greats such as LeBron James, Charles Barkley or Blake Griffin, or if people are giving him too much credit.

✔ Subscribe to ESPN on YouTube: http://es.pn/SUBSCRIBEtoYOUTUBE


✔ Subscribe to ESPN FC on YouTube: http://bit.ly/SUBSCRIBEtoESPNFC

✔ Subscribe to NBA on ESPN on YouTube: http://bit.ly/SUBSCRIBEtoNBAonESPN

✔ Watch ESPN on YouTube TV: http://es.pn/YouTubeTV

ESPN on Social Media:


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Visit ESPN on YouTube to get up-to-the-minute sports news coverage, scores, highlights and commentary for NFL, NHL, MLB, NBA, College Football, NCAA Basketball, soccer and more.

More on ESPN.com: http://www.espn.com

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