The Minnesota Timberwolves have had a difficult time over the course of the 2013-14 NBA season in terms of trying to maintain a .500 record. Every time that they get to .500 or get within a game, they always seem to have a let-down performance or a contest against a superior opponent to give them a losing record once again.
On Tuesday night against the lowly Utah Jazz, the Wolves took another step towards getting back to .500, moving to 20-21 on the season with a dominant 112-97 victory.
The Wolves’ starters, who have been one of the most effective starting units in the league this season, provided a balanced attack and contributed all over the floor. All five starters reached double-figures, all five starters notched at least four rebounds, Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love combined for 21 assists and Rubio also added five steals.
One of the biggest weaknesses of this Wolves team this season, though, has been their lack of production from their reserves. Minnesota has had one of the worst and most inconsistent bench units in the league this year, which is one of the root causes of their sporadic struggles this year. However, that wasn’t the case on Tuesday thanks to J.J. Barea.
In 21 minutes off of the pine, Barea put up 15 points, three assists and a steal while shooting 6-11 from the floor and 3-5 from long-range. Barea has long been an enigmatic player on the floor that you would hardly call reliable, but him providing any kind of offense off of the Timberwolves bench is huge for their success.
Given Barea’s and the rest of the bench’s lack of reliability, though, it’ll be interesting to see what Minnesota does at the NBA Trade Deadline. They have the potential and a few assets that could be dealt that could land them a reliable bench player. It’ll be curious to see if they choose to rely on Barea and the re-emergence of Chase Budinger as he gets acclimated or if this team makes a move to try and make a push for the playoffs.