In what’s sure to be a feisty matchup, the Wolves visit the Sixers tonight in a battle of two 3-0 teams. The Wolves so far have won against formidable teams in Miami and Brooklyn, as well as handily beat a shallow Charlotte team. The Sixers, on the other hand, have walloped Boston, won in Detroit and squeezed one out against a scrappy Atlanta team.
In many ways, tonight’s game is the opportunity for Minnesota to prove that what they’ve done so far is not a fluke. Within the air of wide-eyed optimism among Wolves fans rests an unwitting sense of a commitment to false hope – that it’s not a matter of if this team falls apart but when. Tonight is Karl-Anthony Towns’ chance to quash those doubts.
It’s nothing short of a herculean task. Not only is Philadelphia on a mission to prove that they were one bounce on the rim away from making the Finals last season, Joel Embiid has a history of gunning for Towns’ number. And he knows that KAT’s one true weakness is when someone or something is able to get under his skin and into his head. Embiid thrives on mind games; KAT falters at them.
We all remember the diss on Instagram, how it goaded KAT into a lousy response that ultimately resulted in him getting dunked on again. I don’t need to rehash their entire history here. The point is that if Towns tries to play Embiid’s game, he’s already lost. If he sticks to what’s on the court and gets his teammates involved, it could very well be a different story.
As for the rest of the Sixers’ roster, their starting five could be the best lineup in the league, while their bench at this point seems razor thin. Minnesota will have to rely on the production of their own bench if they want any shot in this one.
One promising sign leading into this one is that the Sixers aren’t going to bury the Wolves in 3s. Philly lost some formidable shooters in the offseason, and currently the Wolves and Sixers sit ranked as 25 and 26 in the league respectively when it comes to 3-point percentage. But where Philly has lost shooting, they’ve gained length and athleticism.
Ultimately Towns and Embiid will likely cancel one another out. This one will be decided through the ancillary pieces and what Minnesota’s bench can contribute. On top of all that, now is the time for Andrew Wiggins to prove he’s serious about this supposed redemption narrative he’s gunning for.