Karl-Anthony Towns

Wolves Notes: Conley, Finch, Towns, Edwards

Mike Conley will have a chance to make a new Game 7 memory on Sunday, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. The Timberwolves‘ veteran point guard is still bothered by how the series ended when he and Rudy Gobert faced the Nuggets as members of the Jazz in a 2020 seventh game in the Orlando bubble. Conley had an opportunity to give Utah a dramatic victory, but his three-point shot at the buzzer misfired.

“I’ve replayed it a lot,” he said. “Having that opportunity to win a Game 7 like that and not be able to make the shot was tough. Now here we are in a similar situation, where we get to play the same team, a lot of the same guys. So for me, it’s just something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. Hopefully this will turn out different.”

Conley plans to be ready despite being listed as questionable with a right soleus strain that kept him out of Game 5. He was able to return for Thursday’s contest and said he feels better now than he did that night. He wants to be on the court so he can put to rest the bad memories from four years ago.

“It’s hard to escape it,” Conley said. “You find that clip every now and then. Sometimes it comes across the phone. I don’t actively search it — I don’t want to bring up that memory too much. But at the same time, it’s something that I’ve thought about at workouts and I think about if I’m having a tough day in a workout missing a certain shot. I’m like, ‘Nah, I got to make this because I might be in this situation again.'”

There’s more on the Wolves:

  • Injured head coach Chris Finch said he and lead assistant Micah Nori have developed an effective system as the series has worn on, Hine adds in the same piece. Finch can’t roam the sidelines after suffering a ruptured patella tendon in the first round, so he and Nori have to be selective about when they communicate. “Couple games ago, he was looking at me or to me a lot,” Finch said. “I just said, you can’t do that, we’re losing some possessions maybe here and there. Just trust your gut. He’s got 30 years of experience. So use it.”
  • Karl-Anthony Towns only scored 10 points in Game 6, but he sparked Minnesota’s blowout by doing all the things his critics say he can’t do, observes Jim Souhan of The Star Tribune. Towns served as the primary defender against Nikola Jokic, grabbed seven rebounds by the end of the first quarter and made the right passes in the offense.
  • Teammates raved about Anthony Edwards‘ maturation int0 a leader after Game 6, per Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. As the Wolves pulled away, Edwards implored the team to avoid any letdown that would allow Denver to get back into the game. “Just the way he’s grown from, I always say my second year, his rookie year, just from the way he’s grown as a basketball player and that person,” Naz Reid said. “It’s completely night and day.”

Wolves Notes: Conley, Edwards, Towns, McDaniels

Facing elimination on Thursday, the Timberwolves turned in arguably the most dominant performance of any team this postseason, holding the Nuggets to 70 points on the night and going on separate 20-0, 13-0, and 24-0 runs en route to a 45-point victory. What was the difference for Minnesota? According to Anthony Edwards, the answer was simple, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

“We got Mike Conley back,” Edwards said of his backcourt mate, who missed Game 5 due to a right soleus strain. “That was it.”

It’s a little reductive to give Conley full credit for the Wolves’ incredible performance. After all, he was also on the floor for the team’s home losses in Games 3 and 4. But Minnesota’s players and coaches have spoken all season about the outsized impact the veteran point guard – who was the team’s fifth-leading scorer during the season – has on the Wolves.

“Mike means everything for us,” head coach Chris Finch said after Game 6. “Unbelievable next to Anthony in terms of being able to set him up, play off of him, be in his ear all of the time. Smart defender. Just everything you want in an experienced, veteran point guard and just the very fact that Ant doesn’t have to handle it every single time, that alone helps us. … We desperately missed him the other night.”

Here’s more out of Minnesota:

  • As Sam Amick of The Athletic details, several Timberwolves players credited a video the coaching staff showed prior to Game 6 for helping the club regain its swagger and get in the right head space heading into Thursday’s contest. “Normally we have a (film) edit, just with certain offensive possessions This edit was more of a production, one of those that show all the big dunks and highlights and the ball movement and with music behind it,” Conley said. “It was a surprise. We’ll usually see the defensive stuff and offensive stuff, but this time they plugged it up to the big speaker. We normally don’t have anything plugged into the big speakers, just the (film) and coach will be talking over it. But this was more of a change-our-mentality sort of thing.” Edwards told reporters that the team’s “energy shifted” after watching the hype video, while Karl-Anthony Towns said it reminded the Wolves of the “discipline, the execution, (and) the tenacity” that they’d been lacking in their losses.
  • Edwards – who said on Thursday that he wants to be “the best player on both sides of the ball in the NBA,” per McMenamin – was the primary defender on Jamal Murray in Game 6. It was a miserable night for the Nuggets guard, who scored just 10 points on 4-of-18 shooting, though Murray suggested after the loss that a right elbow injury he suffered early in the game was more to blame for his off night. “I put some numbing cream on it just so I didn’t have to feel it every time it extended,” Murray said, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. “… We got two days off. I just got to get ready and be able to be better for Sunday. Yeah, (it’s got) to be better for Sunday, man.”
  • Towns scored a playoff-low 10 points on Thursday, but his fingerprints were “all over” Minnesota’s Game 6 win, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic contends. Towns grabbed 13 rebounds, handed out five assists, only turned the ball over once, and – perhaps most crucially – stayed out of foul trouble while defending Nikola Jokic. “I told him today, ‘We’re thankful that you didn’t foul because if you foul we lose,'” Edwards said. “Because you are the best matchup we’ve got for Jokic. Like, you do the best job on him.”
  • After making just 2-of-12 three-pointers and scoring a total of 35 points in the first five games of the series, Jaden McDaniels hit 3-of-5 threes and scored 21 points on Thursday. Chip Scoggins of The Star Tribune takes a closer look at the impact that the Wolves’ “X-factor” had in the victory.

Wolves Notes: Conley, Confidence, Maturity, Jokic, Gobert, NAW

Timberwolves point guard Mike Conley was ruled out for Tuesday’s Game 5 with a right soleus strain and is officially questionable for tonight’s Game 6. However, the 36-year-old plans to suit up, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports (via Twitter).

After Game 5, head coach Chris Finch said the team was optimistic Conley could return for Game 6, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “We’re hopeful Mike can go in Game 6,” Finch said. “That was one of the reasons to be cautious with him right here, feeling that he could go [on Thursday].”

Conley’s leadership and steady hand in the backcourt have buoyed Minnesota throughout the team’s 56-win season, writes Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports. The 36-year-old also understands his window of opportunity is shrinking, and the same may be true of the Wolves in the series.

I’m one of those people, I don’t want to learn through losing,” Conley said. “I don’t want to learn by letting a team win a couple games in a series to make us change some things. Why don’t we, in games, figure this out? We’re good enough to do this. I don’t have time for it, y’all don’t have time for it.”

Conley, who signed a two-year extension during the season, played 76 regular season games in ’23/24 and is the team’s top on-ball decision-maker.

Here’s more on the Wolves:

  • Despite dropping three straight games for the first time all season, the Timberwolves remain confident as they look to stave off elimination against Denver in Thursday’s Game 6, according to McMenamin of ESPN. “Adversity has been something we’ve answered all year,” All-Star big man Karl-Anthony Towns said. “It’s something that if I was to go through this with anyone, I would go through it with these guys in this locker room. I have full confidence in these guys, I have full confidence in our locker room, I have confidence in our coaching staff. Everyone has been tremendous all year. It’s now time to put all that experience and that unity we’ve built throughout the whole year, even last year, and put it on the table and play our best basketball so we can give ourselves a chance to bring back Game 7 here.”
  • Star guard Anthony Edwards struggled with Denver’s extra defensive pressure in Game 5, but he said he’s looking forward to making up for it tonight in Minnesota, McMenamin adds. “Super excited,” Edwards said. “You get to compete. Get to go home and play with our backs against the wall. It should be fun.” If he’s healthy, Conley’s return should alleviate some double-team pressure from Edwards.
  • Despite their public proclamations of confidence, the Wolves haven’t dealt with adversity well the past few games, particularly from an emotional maturity standpoint, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune (subscriber link). Several players have been guilty of immature moments, which has been an issue for this group the past couple seasons, Hine adds. “I mean, we got to keep our head. I think that’s the story for us,” Rudy Gobert said. “… We have to be mentally tough, individually and collectively, to be able to keep playing our game and not let anything that happened in the game affect the way we play.”
  • Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic details how three-time MVP Nikola Jokic, who is also the reigning Finals MVP for the defending-champion Nuggets, was able to eviscerate four-time Defensive Player of the Year Gobert and Minnesota’s top-ranked defense in Game 5. The Serbian superstar was particularly lethal in the third period, recording 16 points on just seven shot attempts and recording four assists, frequently while intentionally hunting Gobert. John Hollinger of The Athletic contends that Jokic’s remarkable performance — 40 points on 15-of-22 shooting, 13 assists, seven rebounds, two steals and a block with zero turnovers — isn’t being discussed enough.
  • Nickeil Alexander-Walker has become an unlikely X-factor for the Wolves, writes Andrew Lopez of ESPN. The former first-round pick was traded three times in quick succession but has turned into a defensive stopper and a leader for Minnesota, Lopez notes.
  • Jim Souhan of The Star Tribune argues that if the Wolves are eliminated by the Nuggets, they shouldn’t blow up the big man pairing of Towns and Gobert. Souhan also says the team should replace Kyle Anderson with another three-point shooter to improve the offense, which has been the primary issue over the past three games.

Wolves Notes: Conley, Edwards, Towns, McDaniels, Defense

As Sam Amick of The Athletic details, adding veteran guard Mike Conley at the 2023 trade deadline was one of the best moves the Timberwolves have made in recent years. In addition to being a perfect on-court fit for Minnesota’s playing style, Conley has served as something of a “connector” between Rudy Gobert and his teammates and has been a veteran mentor to rising star Anthony Edwards, writes Amick.

Conley, who had been on an expiring contract this season, is no longer averaging 20-plus points per game like he did earlier in his career, but he continues to play at a high level in his role, averaging 5.9 assists per game and making 44.2% of his three-pointers this season. His ability to remain productive was a factor in his decision to sign a two-year extension with the Wolves earlier this year, he tells Amick.

“Before I signed the extension, it was like, ‘Man, it could be this year, it could be next year, it could be any year,'” Conley said, referring to possible retirement. “But then as I played this year out, I was like, ‘Man, I haven’t slowed down yet, and I just can’t imagine myself leaving when I haven’t hit that bottom yet.’ So I’m just gonna burn these tires off and not put a date on it and see what happens.”

The 36-year-old said he hasn’t thought much about what the next phase of his career will look like once his playing days are over, but he envisions himself being “around this game” even after his retirement. While he’s not sure coaching is in the cards, he mentioned a front office role or a media job as a couple possibilities.

Here’s more out of Minnesota:

  • Chris Hine of The Star Tribune spoke to Edwards’ longtime skills trainer and coach Kierre Jordan about the work the former No. 1 overall pick has put in to become one of the NBA’s most effective postseason scorers, while Mo Dakhil and Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic broke down some game film from the first two games of the Denver series to illustrate how we’re witnessing Edwards’ development in real time.
  • Minnesota has received trade inquiries on Karl-Anthony Towns in the past year or two and could have decided to move him last offseason, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN (Insider link), who hears from sources that some of the offers the Wolves got were “decent.” However, the team stuck with its star big man and he has rewarded that trust. Lowe likens Towns’ transformation in Minnesota to the way Aaron Gordon found an ideal role in Denver after being miscast as a ball-handling star in Orlando, noting that Edwards’ ascent has helped put Towns in a better position to succeed.
  • Asked by Malika Andrews of ESPN (Twitter video link) where he ranks himself as an NBA defender, Wolves forward Jaden McDaniels placed himself second, behind only his four-time Defensive Player of the Year teammate. “I think I’m the best defender in the NBA besides Rudy (Gobert),” McDaniels said. “We got the DPOY, so I’ll take the step back. But I feel like I’m up there with Rudy. Just the versatility — I can guard one through four, using my length on smaller guys and even bigger guys.”
  • The ferociousness of Minnesota’s defense evokes some championship teams of the past, per David Aldridge of The Athletic, who compares the Wolves’ suffocating D on Nuggets guard Jamal Murray to the way the “Bad Boy” era Pistons would guard Michael Jordan.

And-Ones: Towns, Media Rights, California Classic, Howard

Timberwolves forward/center Karl-Anthony Towns has been named the NBA’s Social Justice Champion for the 2023/24 season, the league announced in a press release.

The four-time All-Star is a voting rights advocate and supported Minnesota’s Restore the Vote bill last year, which “restores the right to vote to thousands of formerly incarcerated individuals.” Towns also advocates for changes to the criminal justice and education systems in the U.S.

Heat center Bam Adebayo, Pelicans guard CJ McCollum, Thunder wing Lindy Waters and Clippers guard Russell Westbrook were the other finalists.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • On an earnings call, TNT (Warner Bros. Discovery) CEO David Zaslav was cautiously optimistic about retaining media rights to NBA games, per Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. “We’ve had a lot of time to prepare for this negotiation, and we have strategies in place for the various potential outcomes,” Zaslav said. “However, now is not the time to discuss any of this since we are in active negotiations with the league. And under our current deal with the NBA, we have matching rights that allow us to match third-party offers before the NBA enters into an agreement with them.”
  • Zaslav’s comments came on the heels of various reports saying NBC has submitted a $2.5 billion bid to be the league’s third media rights partner, joining ESPN/ABC (Disney) and Amazon, which already have framework deals in place. According to Tom Friend of Sports Business Journal, NBC is still viewed as the frontrunner, ahead of TNT.
  • The 2024 California Classic will be co-hosted by the Kings and Warriors, as Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee relays. California’s Summer League – a prelude to Las Vegas Summer League – will take place from July 6-10 and will feature 12 total games. The Kings, Hornets and Spurs will play in Sacramento and the Warriors, Lakers and Heat will play in San Francisco. Sacramento will head to the Chase Center to face Golden State on July 10 to wrap up the event, Anderson writes.
  • Former NBA guard Markus Howard was granted permission to play for Puerto Rico ahead of the country’s Olympic qualifying tournament this summer, the federation announced in a press release. The former Marquette star led the EuroLeague in scoring while playing for Spain’s Baskonia this season, BasketNews notes. “We are very happy to welcome Markus to our national team,” said Carlos Arroyo, general manager of Puerto Rico’s national team. “Markus has become one of the best players in Europe, and for us, it is a luxury to have him. His offensive level will raise the expectations of our team.”

Timberwolves Notes: Gobert, Finch, Towns, Draft Workout

Rudy Gobert, who was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year this week, is grateful to the Timberwolves organization for sticking by him after a rough first year in Minnesota, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic writes.

“When things didn’t go as smoothly as we wanted them to last year, they never doubted me,” Gobert said. “They have shown me love every day, pushing me to be better every day, and I really appreciate that.”

He also feels the entire city has embraced him after many league observers called the blockbuster trade with Utah a disastrous move during and after last season.

“I think we are trying to accomplish something bigger, but more importantly I think I’ve found a home,” he said. “I’ve found a team, a coaching staff, an organization and a city that has embraced me, and a group that has embraced me. I feel like it’s like a family. We are there for each other. We really care about one another.”

We have more on the Timberwolves:

  • Gobert missed Game 2 after the birth of his first child and was thrilled to watch his teammates dismantle the Nuggets in a 106-80 blowout, Dave McMenamin of ESPN relays. “It was incredible,” Gobert said. “I was exhausted, obviously, holding the baby and watching the game at the same time, but I had a little bit of emotions at the end because it felt like there was something special.”
  • Coach Chris Finch has been showing his toughness during the series, running the team shortly after undergoing knee surgery for a ruptured patella tendon. “He hops over on the crutches at times when he’s yelling at guys behind the bench,” Conley told Krawczysnki. “That passion he has for the game, it’s rubbing off on other guys. We’re doing a great job of keeping him involved, keeping him engaged and he’s doing a great job keeping on us and just being who he is.”
  • Karl-Anthony Towns has won the league’s Social Justice award, Marc Spears of Andscape.com reports. Among other issues, Towns has championed voting rights for formerly incarcerated people. He is expected to be given the award prior to Game 3 on Friday.
  • The Wolves will be hosting a pre-draft workout on Thursday for six prospects, mainly potential second-rounders, the team’s PR department tweets. Isaiah Crawford (Louisiana Tech), Thierry Darlan (G League Ignite), Aaron Estrada (Alabama), A.J. Johnson (Illawarra Hawks), Riley Minix (Morehead State) and Jaylen Wells (Washington State) are the participants. Wells is ranked No. 54 on ESPN’s Best Available list, while Johnson is pegged at No. 62.

Nuggets/Wolves Notes: Murray, KCP, Connelly, Edwards, Gordon

Jamal Murray was “in and out” of the Nuggets‘ two practices in the days leading up to Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals vs. the Timberwolves on Saturday, head coach Michael Malone said today. As Bennett Durando of The Denver Post writes, Murray was able to play through a left calf strain on Monday when the Nuggets closed out the Lakers, but the injury hasn’t fully healed.

“Just trying to be smart with that calf,” Malone said on Friday. “Knowing that tip-off at 5:00 tomorrow night is priority No. 1.”

When the Nuggets released their initial injury report for Game 1 on Friday, Murray was listed as questionable. However, as Durando tweets, neither the Nuggets’ messaging nor the guard’s comments have suggested that he’s in real danger of missing Saturday’s game unless he experiences a setback.

The news is even better on Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who suffered a sprained left ankle on Monday. According to Durando, Caldwell-Pope was a full participant in both Thursday’s and Friday’s practices. He’s not listed on Denver’s injury report.

Here are a few more notes on the upcoming matchup between the Nuggets and Wolves:

  • There’s plenty of shared history between the two Northwest clubs, as Jon Krawczynski and Tony Jones of The Athletic detail. While it’s no secret that Timberwolves president of basketball operations Tim Connelly spent years running Denver’s front office, it’s also worth noting that current Nuggets general manager Calvin Booth used to work for Minnesota. The familiarity between the Nuggets and Wolves, who are meeting in the playoffs for a second straight year, could help create the NBA’s next great rivalry, The Athletic’s duo suggests.
  • Referring to the Timberwolves as a “really dangerous” team, Nuggets star Nikola Jokic heaped praise on Minnesota guard Anthony Edwards (“He’s a really talented player who can do everything, who has everything in his arsenal”) and lauded former Denver executive Connelly for the job he has done building the Wolves, according to Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports (Twitter link) and Durando of The Denver Post. “I think they’re built really well,” Jokic said. “Hopefully we are not going to get swept. I think Tim Connelly, when he made that (Rudy Gobert) trade, everybody was laughing at him and what he was doing. But he made a great team. And I think he deserves great credit for doing that.”
  • Aaron Gordon will be a crucial X-factor for the Nuggets in the series, according to Sean Keeler of The Denver Post, who points to the tremendous job the forward did defending Karl-Anthony Towns in the playoffs last spring. When Gordon guarded Towns during that first-round series, the Wolves’ star shot just 37% from the field and had three times as many turnovers (9) as assists (3), Keeler notes.
  • Seerat Sohi of The Ringer provides an in-depth preview of the series, suggesting that how the Wolves fare against the defending champions will serve as a “true litmus test of their progress.”

Northwest Notes: Daigneault, Edwards, Wolves, Nuggets, Jazz

A day after Mark Daigneault was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year for 2023/24, Thunder center Chet Holmgren lauded his head coach for his “crazy X’s and O’s” and his ability to connect with one of the NBA’s youngest rosters, per Rylan Stiles of SI.com.

“Shoutout to Mark man. Helluva coach,” Holmgren said. “… (He) puts us all in position to be successful. … He’s not that much older than us. He’s one of the bros.”

As John Hollinger of The Athletic, the world of NBA coaching is a “thankless” one, so now that he has shown the sort of success he can have in the regular season, Daigneault will be judged going forward on how and the Thunder perform in the postseason. Daigneault is off to a promising start on that front, notes Hollinger, pointing to an instance in Saturday’s win in which the Thunder extended their lead by using Gordon Hayward as a small-ball center.

As Hollinger writes, it would have been easy for Oklahoma City to take a conservative approach on Saturday with a 2-0 lead in the series, but Daigneault has shown repeatedly that he “doesn’t do safe and predictable.” His unorthodox strategies – which lean heavily on data and analytics, Hollinger points out – have the Thunder one win away from their first second-round series since 2016.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Fourteen-time All-Star Kevin Durant, who was on the receiving end of plenty of trash talk from Anthony Edwards during the Timberwolves‘ four-game sweep of Phoenix, had nothing but praise for the young star after Game 4, tweets Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. “I’m so impressed with Ant. So impressed with Ant,” Durant said of Edwards, who averaged 31.0 PPG during the series. “My favorite player to watch. Just grown so much since he came into the league.”
  • The Timberwolves‘ dominant first-round victory over the Suns serves as a reminder that many NBA analysts were wrong about the Rudy Gobert trade, according to Jim Souhan of The Star Tribune. There was skepticism about the ability of Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns to be effective alongside one another, but they’ve proven over the course of this season that’s not a problem, Souhan adds.
  • While both Nuggets point guards are banged up, neither Jamal Murray (left calf strain) nor Reggie Jackson (left ankle sprain) has missed a game yet during the team’s first-round series vs. the Lakers. That streak is up in the air with Murray still considered questionable for Monday’s Game 5, but Jackson seems good to go — he’s listed as probable to play, tweets Vinny Benedetto of The Denver Gazette.
  • In a report for The Salt Lake Tribune, Andy Larsen, Blake Apgar, Kevin Reynolds, and Robert Gehrke take a look at how the Delta Center – the Jazz‘s home arena – might be affected by team owner Ryan Smith‘s plan to bring the NHL to Utah.

Wolves Notes: McDaniels, Gobert, Edwards, Towns

Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels had arguably the best game of his four-year NBA career on Tuesday vs. Phoenix, posting 25 points, eight rebounds, and three assists. The Wolves outscored the Suns by 24 points in the 41 minutes he played and were outscored by 12 points during the seven minutes he was on the bench.

As Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic writes, McDaniels has waited all year to shine on this sort of stage after feeling as if he let down his teammates last spring by punching a wall after the regular season finale, breaking his hand and ending his season. The young forward didn’t realize when he went to hit a canvas awning out of frustration that there was a concrete wall behind it, but still felt embarrassed about the injury — and distraught that he wasn’t available to help his club in the playoffs.

“I was sick just watching them play (vs. Denver in last year’s first round),” McDaniels said. “I just felt like it would have been different if I got hurt playing, trying to battle. Just hurting myself, I felt selfish.”

The incident didn’t dissuade the Timberwolves from investing long-term in McDaniels, who signed a five-year, $131MM rookie scale extension in the fall. But he has still been waiting all year for the opportunity to redeem himself in the postseason — through the first two games against Phoenix, he’s well on his way to delivering on that goal.

“His activity’s been on another level so far in two games,” head coach Chris Finch said of McDaniels.

Here’s more on the Wolves:

  • McDaniels’ strong play in the series vs. Phoenix certainly hasn’t escaped the notice of Suns head coach Frank Vogel, who suggested before Game 2 that his team needs to prepare a plan of attack for the defensive standout. “He’s outstanding,” Vogel said, per Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune. “His length, his athleticism, his quickness, his speed. He’s a great defensive player. We have to make sure we attack him the right away.”
  • Despite appearing likely to win his fourth Defensive Player of the Year award this spring, Rudy Gobert was voted in The Athletic’s player poll as the NBA’s most overrated player. No one within the Wolves’ organization feels that way though, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic, who suggests that Gobert’s intensity and attention to detail are key reasons why the club didn’t lose three straight games all season. “There’s a difference between being the reason you win and being the reason you don’t lose,” Finch said. “And Rudy is the reason we don’t lose. He doesn’t let us lose these games. He’s been this way all season. He’s an incredible floor raiser and he just brings it and he knows when the team needs him to do this the most. That’s one of the many reasons he’s so valuable for us.”
  • ESPN’s Tim MacMahon published a similar feature on Gobert this week, exploring why the French center seems to rub so many of his fellow NBA players the wrong way — and why that no longer bothers Gobert.
  • Speaking to Taylor Rooks of TNT Sports (Twitter video link), Anthony Edwards expressed a belief that he and Karl-Anthony Towns are the NBA’s top duo. If the Wolves advance to the second round, they’d likely be on track to square off against another duo that believes it’s the league’s best: Nuggets stars Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic.

Pacific Notes: Leonard, George, Allen, Warriors

Clippers coach Tyronn Lue has decided on his fifth starter if Kawhi Leonard isn’t available for Sunday’s series opener against Dallas, according to Janis Carr of The Orange County Register. Lue didn’t reveal the name, but Carr speculates it will be Amir Coffey, who started 13 games this season, often as Leonard’s replacement.

Leonard is still officially listed as questionable with inflammation in his right knee that has sidelined him since March 31. He was expected to take part in shooting drills at today’s practice with more movement than he did on Friday, but he still hasn’t participated in anything involving full contact since the knee began flaring up.

Lue said he’s not counting on any one player to slow down the high-powered Mavericks’ attack led by Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving.

“It’s on all of us. It’s not just one player or two players, it’s all of us collectively doing our jobs and doing it the best we can do,” Lue said. “It’s not on one or two guys, it’s on everybody to produce, as well as me and the coaching staff.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Paul George believes bad injury luck has prevented the Clippers from reaching their potential in the playoffs, Carr adds. George is making his return to the postseason after missing last season’s series with Phoenix due to a sprained knee. “Injuries happen. That’s part of the game (and there’s) no way of really avoiding it,” he said. “So, as much as chemistry and being on the floor together and playing the best basketball you could possibly play at this point of the season, a lot of it has to do with luck, too.”
  • X-rays were negative for Suns guard Grayson Allen, who left today’s game with an ankle injury, tweets Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports. Coach Frank Vogel told reporters that Allen has been diagnosed with a sprain. His availability for Tuesday’s Game 2 will depend on how he responds to treatment.
  • The Warriors will need to be aggressive on the trade market to have another chance at a title during the Stephen Curry era, writes Ron Kroichick of The San Francisco Chronicle. Kroichick suggests making a run at Karl-Anthony Towns if the Timberwolves are knocked out of the playoffs early or possibly Dejounte Murray if the Hawks decide to break up their backcourt. He lists Trail Blazers forward Jerami Grant, Pacers forward Pascal Siakam and Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram as others who might be obtainable.