Perhaps it is the oncoming Spring or the light at the end of the tunnel of the pandemic, but things began to feel a bit more normal at the Target Center tonight. There was something oddly comforting about sitting in the arena and hearing a random fan yell out to the refs to let them know that they suck. Or the unsurprising surprise when it seemed like there were more Warrior fans (or at least louder ones) than Wolves fans.
But there is something not normal happening. The Wolves are winning.
This win was a solid effort from top-to-bottom on the roster. Each player had their moment, whether it was Juancho Hernangomez hitting important threes, Naz Reid rolling into the paint, Josh Okogie flying around following Steph Curry, or Jaden McDaniels effortlessly switching from Draymond Green onto Curry and back again in the same possession. Oh, and Ricky Rubio was the Wolves leading scorer with 26 points, shooting 5 of 8 from deep. Rubio was incredible this game, particularly in the second half.
Karl-Anthony Towns was the steadying force the entire game, forcing his way to the rim and nailing threes. Towns was clearly frustrated by the lack of foul calls most of the game and picked up a technical foul early on. But KAT still got to the line 10 times and produced an incredible all-around performance with 22 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 assists. We have seen how this team completely falls apart without Towns and nights like tonight just further solidify how he acts as a tentpole for this roster.
This was not a great D’Angelo Russell game nor will the performances tonight douse the flames of the Andrew Wiggins - Russell swap from last year. Russell was unable to get much going on offense, but did lead a huge run in the first quarter with the second unit. It remains remarkable to watch Wiggins on the Warriors, as the system caters so explicitly to what Wiggins is best at, but nothing else. He poured in 27 points, most early on, and had some tremendous drives in the fourth quarter. While he had three assists, his playmaking leash is so limited, it sometimes felt like Wiggins would never take more than three dribbles at a time.
The Warriors were always playing from behind after the Wolves went on a run in the first quarter. There are moments when everything clicks and they are right back to the dominating team of old. A Curry- Draymond Green will happen lightning-fast, leaving Green with a wide-open lane to the rim. Or Curry will drive to the rim, pass out to the perimeter, then relocate behind a screen for an open three with four defenders rushing at him. Curry had a transcendent third quarter tonight, which buoyed his 37 points. But outside of that quarter, the Wolves successfully hounded him with a combination of Okogie, Rubio, and McDaniels.
The moments when everything doesn’t click, and the Warriors are vestiges of an empire, as kick-outs to wide-open shooters turn into airballs and clanks.
But the highlights of tonight belong to Anthony Edwards. After a fairly pedestrian first half, Ant exploded in the fourth quarter, scoring 18 of his 25 points. I am fairly certain he scored 10 points in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter and then put the game away with two incredible drives.
Few people believe in the theory of the hot hand more than Anthony Edwards— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) April 30, 2021
Ant’s confidence and assuredness are remarkable. It has been such a joy to watch him grow throughout the course of the season and it is hard not to feel that we are watching a superstar develop.
This team’s growth is what matters. They are proving that they can be competitive on a nightly basis and that they are building a sustainable future. The lottery balls will fall where they may, but if the Wolves keep this up, they will be able to demonstrate that they are relying on more than just faith.