Ant and KAT’s Continuity Has Taken the Wolves To the Next Level

Photo Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch has used the same starting five in 12 of the team’s first 15 games. Aside from Rudy Gobert‘s three-game absence in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, the Wolves have been relatively healthy – especially the starters (knocking on wood).

A healthy starting five is something of a novelty in Minnesota. And with the hectic off-season the team underwent, playing games together early is very important. Although Minnesota’s starting group has played over ten games together, the team has not started the season the way they would have liked.

The Timberwolves currently hold a 7-8 record, tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder for the 10th seed in the Western Conference. The Wolves have been dropping winnable games to open one of the most anticipated seasons in franchise history. Fans knew that the Timberwolves would need time to gel. However, many of them have been disappointed by this start.

Things are starting to trend in the right direction, in large part because of Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards’ connection.

Feeding the hot hand is something all great teams need to get locked in early. Shouldn’t be that hard of a task, right? Well, on a team like the Wolves, you have multiple guys who want to eat, and for good reason. However, moving the ball to guys when they are hot is key while at the same time not overfeeding. That’s something Ant did very well against the Cleveland Cavaliers last Sunday night.

“Sunday, I was locked in,” Edwards stated Wednesday night. “It’s just the guys had it going, so I just pretty much given them open shots and feeding off their energy, and tonight I had it going, and they did the same. Sunday wasn’t me not being locked in, it was more so DLo had it going, KAT had it going, so we was finding them in the flow of the offense.”

The Wolves were searching for a much-needed win Sunday night in Cleveland. They had to take care of business with Donovan Mitchell and Jarrett Allen out. They did just that as Towns and Russell poured on 59 points combined points in a 129-124 win. However, they had to weather a 4th quarter comeback thanks to Darius Garland’s 50-piece.

Edwards only finished with 10 points on 5 of 13 (38.4%) from the floor. However, he made the right reads in key spots. Even though his shooting splits don’t jump off the page, Ant played a solid brand of basketball – not forcing his shots as much as in games past.

“I’m still figuring it out, man,” Edwards said Wednesday night. “Year 3 for me, you know, I should be a little better as far as trying to be more consistent game by game, but I’m still figuring it out, like routines, habits, trying to find ways to continue to dominate every night.”

The consistency Minnesota’s starters have had together early in the year is not something that has transferred over into their play. However, we saw Wednesday night just how much better the Wolves are when Towns and Edwards share the workload and play off each other.

“[Edwards has] been quick and decisive, mixing up playing on and off the ball effectively,” said Finch after the Orlando Magic game. “We went back into the 2nd shift, and he really really moved it, and then started driving it in the 3rd quarter against a lot of their switches, was able to get to the free throw line.”

Knowing what to do and when to do it has been a big learning curve Ant’s faced since coming out of college at age 19. Either taking too many threes, too many contested looks in the paint, or settling for tough midrange pull-ups has led Edwards’ to inconsistent play. However, Ant was very aware of what the defense was giving him and how to exploit certain matchups on Wednesday.

Edwards did a little bit of everything on the offensive side of the ball. He finished with 35 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists on 12 of 20 (60%) from the floor and 7 of 13 (54%) from deep. Ant helped the Wolves finally break their curse in Amway Center with a 126-108 win over the Magic.

Ant wasn’t the only one going deep into his bag. KAT also stepped up in the 2nd quarter and gave the Wolves a steady flow of offense all night long.

“He did what he get paid to do for his birthday,” said Edwards on the Towns’ play against the Magic. “10-for-15 from the field, 30 points. He was the reason we won tonight, so that’s his gift from me.”

Edwards may not have been able to celebrate Towns’ birthday with him. However, I think the win will suffice for KAT.

As Ant said, Towns finished with 30 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists on 10 of 15 (66%) from the floor and 2 of 5 (40%) from deep. Edwards may have been the star of the in Orlando, however, KAT’s steady hand all night long was a big factor in the Wolves winning their 2nd game in a row.

We’ve yet to see too many games this season where Ant and KAT both show out. However, they did on Wednesday night. As a result, the Wolves weathered some Orlando comeback pushes and picked up the win. Edwards and Towns won’t need to combine for 60+ every night. Rather, they need to play within the offense, play off each other, and trust the game plan. If they can do those three relatively simple things, the Wolves should be in good shape all year long.

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Photo Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

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