Karl-Anthony Towns’ efficiency stands out in Timberwolves’ win over Pacers

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By Aprilia Reen

Karl-Anthony Towns’ efficiency stands out in Timberwolves’ win over Pacers

There’s a lot to love about the Timberwolves’ win on Saturday, including Karl-Anthony Towns’ 40-point game.

The Minnesota Timberwolves hosted a short-handed Indiana Pacers squad on their second night of a back-to-back. Following the Pacers’ loss to the Washington Wizards on Friday night, there were mechanical issues with their airplane which delayed their flight into the MSP area. With the Indiana players landing in Minneapolis on Saturday afternoon, an irregular schedule added to their uphill battle without their superstar guard Tyrese Haliburton. Given those circumstances, the Timberwolves had a massive advantage at home in their showdown, and Minnesota capitalized on that advantage by defeating the visitors by a final score of 127-109.

With that being said, let’s analyze and game and highlight three major takeaways from Saturday night’s showing.

Saturday night was more than just a regular season game in December for Minnesota. The Timberwolves celebrated the release of Anthony Edwards’ signature shoes with Adidas, the AE1’s. The shoes’ release date of December 16 was clearly a big deal for the franchise as they made multiple efforts to commemorate the occasion.

First off, the Target Center seats were lined with Adidas t-shirts reading, “Believe That.” This design is a core part of Edwards’ branding with Adidas. There were two variants of shirts as white versions spelled out “AE1” in the crowd prior to tip off.

In addition to the t-shirt giveaway, multiple members of the Timberwolves’ staff rocked the AE1’s on their debut night and, of course, Edwards rocked the beautiful new kicks as well.

On a very special night, Anthony Edwards had an unbelievable performance for the Wolves. Ant came to life in the second quarter and flashed incredible 3-point making as he drilled four threes in the first half and finished with 18 points in the first 24 minutes of game time. Edwards continued his stunning performance in the second half by nailing three more 3-pointers en route to a 37-point masterpiece on AE1 night in Minneapolis.

Minnesota’s efforts into celebrating their star guard showcases a renewed commitment to their basketball product. The Timberwolves went through one of the toughest stretches in NBA history after their 2004 Western Conference Finals run. The franchise today looks massively different. As new ownership comes in, Minnesota’s financial commitment to their players with long-term contracts, endorsing their off court ventures like Ant’s signature shoe and the renewed fan interest displays a true turning of the tide in Minnesota.

Even with the Pacers facing tough circumstances, the Timberwolves were actually the team to come out a little flat. Indy got off to a good start until Karl-Anthony Towns took over. KAT poured in an impressive 20 first-half points on unreal efficiency as he shot 9-of-13 from the field through two frames.

KAT’s overall impact even outweighed his impressive scoring. His brilliance continued as Towns finished the game with 12 rebounds, four assists, two blocks and three steals to accompany his final tally of 40 points. Towns’ excellence was another reminder that he is a true All-NBA caliber force in this league with the ability to carry a team offensively. Minnesota is at their best when his scoring excellency combines with the Wolves terrific defense. On nights where the Wolves get stops, the offensive output of Towns and Edwards overwhelms other teams, a trend that continued Saturday night against Indiana. The duo combined for 77 points, their highest mark of the season.

Timberwolves’ offensive structure improves

The biggest takeaway from Saturday night’s win over Indiana was the increase in offensive play calling. At times, Minnesota has lost its way offensively this season as indicated by a high turnover rate and average offensive rating despite a ton of talent. Chris Finch’s adjustment offensively opened up opportunities for the Timberwolves best players. In the clip below, Edwards’ athleticism and Gobert’s rim pressure combined to draw in Indiana’s defense. Edwards then threw  a pass out to Jaden McDaniels for a clean look at corner three.

As described earlier, Towns and Edwards found themselves with opportunities to score frequently. Especially in the second quarter, Minnesota’s usage of set plays opened up space for Edwards to operate 1-on-1. In addition to more half court set plays, Minnesota placed a greater emphasis on using Rudy Gobert more frequently as a screener in the pick-and-roll. Here is an example of Gobert putting Edwards at an advantage through a simple high pick-and-roll rep.

With how stifling the T-Wolves defense has been this season, finding a good balance of a freelance offensive attack and a targeted, systematic approach will make Minnesota an even tougher team to beat. Even as the number one seed in the West, the Wolves still have another level to reach as they continue to find answers on how to maximize their offensive talent. A big win for the Wolves moves them to a 19-5 record. They hold a multiple game lead over the 2nd seed — and reigning champion — Denver Nuggets.

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