Wolves Notes: Towns, Defense, Edwards, Gobert

Karl-Anthony Towns has been misfiring throughout the Western Conference Finals, but his shooting struggles were particularly painful in Sunday’s Game 3 loss, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Towns, who finished with 14 points, shot just 5-of-18 from the field and 0-of-8 from three-point range. He missed all four of his attempts in the final five minutes, including three from beyond the arc, as Minnesota’s offense collapsed down the stretch.

“He struggled, of course,” coach Chris Finch said at his post-game press conference. “It was hard to watch at times.”

The Wolves haven’t been able to keep up with Dallas’ high-powered attack while getting limited production from one of their prime scoring threats. Towns is shooting 27.8% in the series, which McMenamin notes is the fourth-worst mark of any player through the first three games of a conference or divisional finals in the shot clock era (minimum 50 shot attempts).

“I’ve got to laugh,” Towns said. “I’m putting up to 1,500 shots a day. Shot so well all playoffs, confidence extremely high. To be having these unfortunate bounces and these looks that are just not going in, it’s tough. It’s tough, for sure. I’m good confidence wise. Just got to keep shooting.”

There’s more on the Timberwolves:

  • Towns’ poor shooting and questionable decision-making in the series raise questions about whether he should be part of the team’s long-term future, per Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports. Towns’ four-year, $221MM extension kicks in next season, likely pushing Minnesota into second apron territory and limiting its options for improving the roster.
  • Towns’ three-point shooting and the league’s top-ranked defense have carried Minnesota all season, but neither has been effective in the conference finals, observes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Whether Finch has tried to guard Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving straight up or blitz them with an extra defender, the Mavericks‘ play-makers always seem to have an answer. Finch has also experimented with his big-man rotation, benching Towns for Naz Reid late in Game 2 and sitting out Rudy Gobert for more than nine minutes in Sunday’s fourth quarter.
  • The Mavericks’ edge in experience and the individual brilliance of Doncic and Irving have been too much for Minnesota to handle, notes Sam Amick of The Athletic. Even though the Wolves were locked in a season-long battle for the top record in the West, it’s rare for teams to win titles when their best player is still early in his career. “We’ve got (Anthony Edwards), who’s 22, and Dwayne Wade won a championship at that age,” Gobert said. “(Wade) was the guy, but he was surrounded by some other veterans who helped him grow. I think that’s the way I feel about our team. Ant is not in his prime yet, but he’s still (capable of leading a title team). For him, it’s about learning every day, being willing to learn and grow, and he’s done that. Sometimes the pain of losing is the best lesson, but I think we’ve had some of that. I think we’ve had enough of that. Now it’s ‘Let’s win it.’”
View Comments (13)