There’s a buzz of hope fluttering about Wolves fandom early this season following two promising wins on the road to kick off the year. A combination of new blood on the roster and a renewed sense of urgency to make the most of Karl-Anthony Towns’ contract extension seems to have shocked life into the organization. If this momentum is sustainable remains to be seen.
The early high the organization and fans have been riding since last Wednesday gets put to the test against a frisky Miami Heat team tonight at the Target Center. The Heat are coming off two early victories of their own – the most recent being an overtime win at Milwaukee yesterday.
Miami’s new star, Jimmy Butler, is out following the birth of his daughter, so that tense reunion will have to wait until February when these two teams meet again. But the Heat have held their own despite Butler’s absence. Jeff Teague will have a tough time trying to stay in front of Kendrick Nunn and Goran Dragic, and Towns will have to stay vigilant in keeping Bam Adebayo off the glass. Justice Winslow has been off to a strong start this season, but I imagine the length Minnesota’s wings boast will go a long way to containing him.
This Heat have an exuberant young energy to them, refined by the experience of vets like Dragic and Kelly Olynyk. It’s a tricky combination that could really put the Wolves to the test.
But the outcome of this game very clearly rests on Towns’ broad shoulders. He has been nothing short of fantastic in the Wolves’ first two games, and no one on Miami’s roster poses too much of a defensive threat to the multitude of offensive weapons he has put on display so far. He’s clearly on a mission this year. And while I’m quick to question or even doubt any success the Wolves as an organization might have, I’m much more hesitant to question KAT and what he’s capable of. If he’s able to sustain this kind of performance, I won’t rule anything out for this team.
This one will likely come down to taking care of the ball every possession and making sure the Wolves get Towns involved early. If Minnesota is able to contain Winslow on the wing and limit Adebayo’s presence on the boards, they should be in good shape.
Head over to Hot Hot Hoops where our pals have Miami Heat coverage for you.