Austin Rivers believes struggling Timberwolves will be just fine

Experienced guard Austin Rivers has played on bad teams before.

“So I know what it looks like,” he said.

And he doesn’t think this Timberwolves team fits into that category.

“I don’t see it here. I just don’t see it. I don’t see this getting worse. I just don’t know,” Rivers said. “It’s hard for me to see, with the talent we have here, the competitiveness we have here, I don’t see it getting any worse. I really don’t. We’ll be fine.”

That was Rivers’ overwhelming take from his media availability Monday morning, hours before Minnesota’s game against Denver. Yes, Rivers noted that there was palpable frustration in the team following Saturday’s loss of the Timberwolves to basement dweller Detroit — Minnesota’s sixth straight loss. When it rains, Rivers noted, it pours.

“But perspective is everything. I think the most important thing for us at the moment is to stay on top of things. Things could have easily gone differently in the past six games. We could have won three of those games. The Miami game, the New Orleans game, and even the Boston game, we were late in that game for a period of time. That’s just how it works,” Rivers said. “But right now, sometimes in the league when things aren’t going right, it just starts pouring and it’s very easy to allow negativity in. Everyone has that in their ears when they go home and everyone has the solution, everyone has an opinion, everyone is the smartest player in the world. That kind of stuff can’t sneak in. You have to stay the course.”

Minnesota held a meeting in the locker room immediately after the loss to Detroit. The Wolves likely shared many of the same sentiments that have been expressed publicly – the effort and execution needs to get better. Rivers said Minnesota has had enough team briefings, player meetings and films. At some point, actions have to speak.

“It’s not rocket science. It’s basketball. We have professionals here. We’ve talked enough, you know what I mean. It’s just about going out there, doing it instead of saying it,” Rivers said. “The third quarter has been our thing this year where we get up at 10 or 11 and things change a bit. So we just have to clean up stuff like that. Gotta get a win, man. Get the morale back, the ghost here. We have it here. Everyone likes to work together. Everyone’s friends. We have more than enough on our list. That’s not the problem, our roster. It’s about us coming together and starting to accumulate wins together.”

It’s that camaraderie that Rivers still believes in about this team. Minnesota, he noted, is just a few games away from a play-in spot at the moment and still within reach of a top-six seed in the west. River said Wolves are one big win away from turning the tide and changing the energy.

“It’s the kind of team we have here. If we lost six in a row, you can win eight in a row or five in a row,” Rivers said. “We have 47 games left in the season, we’re four or five games away from going fifth or sixth. But there is no room for that margin to widen. This will not always be the case. So those next 10, 20 games are very important for us.”

But Minnesota must recognize that while it also doesn’t put additional pressure on its own shoulders, it does cause the team to pucker, as has often happened when opponent Austin Rivers makes runs in the second half of games.

“Everyone wants to win. Everyone wants to win now. We’re trying to get that monkey off our backs,” Rivers said. “We have a good team, we will be fine.”

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