The last time the Wizards and Timberwolves met, six Minnesota players reached double figures, Washington scored just 16 points in the third quarter and the Timberwolves won by 22—all without Karl-Anthony Towns on the floor due to suspension.
Towns will suit up this time, however, when the Wizards travel to Minnesota looking to snap their three-game winning streak. The Timberwolves have won two straight, most recently beating the San Antonio Spurs 129-114 in game Towns and forward Andrew Wiggins combined for 58 points.
With all due respect to Robert Covington (11.8 PPG), Jeff Teague (13.9 PPG, 6.3 APG) and rookie Jarrett Culver, Towns and Wiggins have been the driving forces behind the Minnesota offense, which ranks fifth in the NBA with 117.2 points per game.
That duo will enter Friday night as the biggest stars to watch on the Timberwolves.
The Wizards lucked out Nov. 2, when Towns missed the first of two games after getting involved in an altercation with Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid three nights prior. Yet Minnesota still outscored Washington 56-24 in the paint, led by Covington and Gorgui Deng.
Those problems will likely continue Friday. Towns is averaging 25.8 PPG and 12 RPG while keeping defenders honest with a 40.7 shooting percentage from behind the 3-point line. The two-time All-Star has played up to his resume so far this season, but one area he’s taken strides in is his passing.
Towns has assisted on 21.8% of points scored while he’s been on the floor this season, easily his career high. The emergence of Wiggins as a legitimate scoring threat has helped boost that figure, but Towns has been looking to pass much more this season than in years past.
The former No. 1 overall pick has always been able to score in bunches, but he’s turned his game up to another level this season. Wiggins has dropped at least 30 points in four of his last five games, shooting well from behind the arc but doing most of his damage in the lane and from midrange.
Wiggins’ contributions have opened up the rest of the offense to focus more on their individual assignments. Teague and Culver don’t need to score in high volumes and can instead be the ball distributors that they are. Covington can work out of the post more frequently and spot up from three when he has the opportunities.
It’s turned the Timberwolves’ offense into a well-oiled machine that runs like it’s fresh out of the factory. Under head coach Ryan Saunders, the Timberwolves are playing as well as they have ever have with Towns in tow. If Wiggins and Towns find a rhythm early, this game could be over before it even gets started.
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