Timberwolves defense goes from improving to stingy

When Tom Thibodeau was hired as head coach and president of basketball operations in April 2016, he brought his no-nonsense style and hard-nosed defensive scheme to Minnesota.

Twenty-one months later, his defensive plans are beginning to flourish on the court.

The Timberwolves have held six straight opponents to under 100 points, dating back to their 107-90 victory over Indiana on New Year’s Eve. Only the Boston Celtics have had a longer streak this season when they held eight straight opponents to double digits from Oct. 20-Nov. 5.

Boston Celtics 8 10/20/2017 – 11/05/2017
Minnesota Timberwolves 6 12/31/2017 – ACTIVE
Washington Wizards 5 11/09/2017 – 11/17/2017
Portland Trail Blazers 5 11/13/2017 – 11/20/2017
San Antonio Spurs 4 11/10/2017 – 11/15/2017
San Antonio Spurs 4 11/29/2017 – 12/04/2017

And it’s not like the Timberwolves have had a cupcake schedule the past few weeks, either. Four of their last six opponents would make the playoffs if the season ended Wednesday, including Cleveland and Boston, both top-three teams in the Eastern Conference.

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On the season, Minnesota allows 105.0 points per game, which ranks 13th in the NBA. That’s much improved from its 18th-place finish last season and 23rd in 2015-16.


— The Timberwolves and Thunder have both led 26 games at halftime, tied for second in the NBA. Minnesota is 20-6 in those games, while OKC is 19-7.

— Minnesota has seen at least five players score 10+ points in 33 games this year, good for the league lead.

— The Thunder lost 117-106 to the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night. They are 4-3 in the second game of a back-to-back this season.

— Karl-Anthony Towns is averaging 28.1 points and 11.9 rebounds in his last seven games against the Thunder.

Statistics courtesy STATS

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