They say NBA teams forge real rivalries in the playoffs, so it’s unlikely the Timberwolves and Philadelphia 76ers will ever really build one, barring a change in format or several meetings in the finals of course.
Nonetheless, each team remade around a pair of young stars and a handful of added veterans is popular among ESPN and TNT executives, as witnessed by Tuesday’s late 8:30 p.m. tip at Target Center for a national television audience.
The 76ers have young stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons as well as vets JJ Redick, Amir Johnson and Trevor Booker.
The Wolves have Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins as well as Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson and Jamal Crawford.
“I mean, yeah and no,” Butler said. “You see how good they can be on paper, just like our team. But it’s all about if you’re going to come out and do your job, if you’re going to play hard. Everybody expects you to do well, but you have to do a lot of things correctly to win games.”
Embiid a (Twitter) star
Embiid returned Tuesday after he had missed the previous two games because of tightness in his back.
Regardless of whether he’s healthy enough to play, Embiid throughout his short career has proved to be one of the NBA’s best follows on Twitter for his willingness to troll, feud or just be funny.
“He’s the same person he was in college,” said Wiggins, who played his one collegiate season with Embiid at Kansas. “Now he’s just on a bigger stage.”
To tweet or not …
Crawford frequently engages fans on Twitter, but the Wolves don’t have a presence on the social-media network who approaches Embiid’s.
“I don’t really do too much on social media,” Butler said. “I don’t think a lot of our guys do. If they do, that’s on them. Take your beef to Twitter or whatever you want to do, but be you. At the end of the day, just be you.”
Everybody has their priorities.
“Joel’s a good friend of mine,” Towns said. “He has his way of having fun. I have my own different way of having fun. I don’t have time for that. I’m trying to watch Netflix and play video games. He does what he does. He’s a one-of-a-kind personality.”
One of six NBA presidents or CEOs on the panel, Wolves CEO Ethan Casson and 11 others on the NBA’s new Business and Basketball Committee probably will meet quarterly to discuss how to grow the game and their business.
GMs such as San Antonio’s R.C. Buford, Brooklyn’s Sean Marks, Houston’s Daryl Morey and New Orleans’ Dell Demps also are on the committee.
“Everything’s on the table,” Casson said. “It’s so exciting, just to have that dialogue because so often you do things in isolation when these initiatives involve everybody.”
• Wolves reserve forward Nemanja Bjelica missed his ninth consecutive game because of a sprain in his left foot, with no indication his return is imminent.
• Everybody has their own way to spend an extra 90 minutes when there’s a late 8:30 p.m. start like on Tuesday. “I’m going to play dominoes,” Butler said. “Excuse me.”
• Lynx star guard Lindsay Whalen provided commentary on FSN’s broadcast Tuesday, the second of eight games she will do this season.
• Tom Thibodeau’s former boss and longtime friend Jeff Van Gundy worked the game for ESPN. Who buys dinner when he’s in town? “Good question,” Thibodeau said. “It’s a fight.”
• Butler braided his hair for Sunday’s game against Dallas, but by Tuesday the braids were long gone. “You never know,” he said. “It’s how I’m feeling on any certain day.”