Wolves Notes: Game 4, Anderson, Clutch Situations, Towns

Ahead of Game 4 of the Western Conference finals on Tuesday, Jim Souhan of The Star Tribune acknowledges that the odds of the Timberwolves mounting a comeback and winning the series over Dallas are extremely long, but stresses that they’re not zero — even if no team is NBA history has ever advanced after facing a 3-0 deficit.

The first two games of the series were decided by a single possession and the Wolves had the lead in Game 3 with five minutes to play, so it’s not as if they haven’t been competitive. Souhan suggests that playing Kyle Anderson more following the forward’s solid performance on Sunday makes sense for Minnesota.

Souhan also points out that the team could regain an advantage in the frontcourt with Dereck Lively not expected to be available for Game 4 due to a neck injury. The Mavericks had a +14.7 net rating in Lively’s 63 minutes on the court during the first three games of the series, compared to a -6.9 mark in the 81 minutes he didn’t play.

For their part, the Wolves’ players are trying to avoid thinking about winning four games and instead focus on winning one, per Chris Hine of The Star Tribune.

“It stays in the belief department right now,” Mike Conley said. “Just, mentally believing that it’s one game. Just one game. Get one, bring it back to Minnesota and give ourselves a chance in this series. We’re more than capable of doing that.”

Here’s more on the Wolves ahead of a must-win Game 4:

  • The Mavericks’ superiority over the Wolves in clutch situations was foreshadowed in a January game in which Dallas closed out the fourth quarter on a 15-2 run after trailing by six points with four minutes to play, Hine writes for The Star Tribune. According to Hine, Minnesota had the league’s worst net rating in clutch situations from that night through the end of the regular season.
  • There will be a “reckoning” this summer in Minnesota if Karl-Anthony Towns – who is shooting 27.8% in the series vs. the Mavericks – doesn’t turn things around before the Timberwolves are eliminated, writes Chris Mannix of SI.com. As great as the season has been, the Wolves’ financial situation going forward may be untenable due to the big raises coming for Towns, Anthony Edwards, and Jaden McDaniels, which will push team salary above the second tax apron. Of the club’s high-priced players, KAT is the one whose future in Minnesota appears least certain.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic shares some thoughts on the Timberwolves/Mavericks series, observing that Anderson has been Minnesota’s most effective defender against Luka Doncic. It could benefit the Wolves to lean more into that matchup, Hollinger writes, but it’s tricky to play Anderson alongside Rudy Gobert due to the lack of shooting and spacing. Hollinger also takes a closer look at Towns’ struggles, noting that three-point inaccuracy has been an issue but that the big man is also having trouble scoring inside against a stifling Dallas defense.
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