What better way to start the 2022-2023 season of basketball than a trip to visit our friends, the Miami HEAT? Even without their General, Miami is always a challenge due to Erik Spoelstra (The best NBA coach according to NBA GMs) and his coaching wizardry. A Minnesota Timberwolves team, still not quite ready to unveil their new starting lineup with Rudy Gobert, Karl-Anthony Towns, and D’Angelo Russell out, were going to get their first test against the 2022 Eastern Conference runners up.
Both teams opened the game like it was their first time playing against real competition in over four months. It took nearly two whole minutes before either team made their first field goal. Spo’s squad looked unusually rusty, consistently coughing up the ball which helped Finch’s fleet to get out in transition. Meanwhile, the Wolves pushed the pace both on makes and misses, helping alleviate the early ineffective play of starters, Jaylen Nowell. The bench unit, lead by Jordan McLaughlin, Taurean Prince, and Bryn Forbes, really stepped on the accelerator to build a double-digit lead in the second quarter.
Jordan McLaughlin circus shot to beat the buzzer pic.twitter.com/vomo8QhNoV— Timberwolves Clips (@WolvesClips) October 5, 2022
The impressive play of Jaden McDaniels stood out in particular, as he looked particularly sharp and shifty on both ends of the court. Though Naz Reid was ineffective as the starter center, accumulating four fouls in just eight minutes, Nathan Knight bullied his way around the paint. A total team effort forced Miami into 12 first half turnovers which helped Nowell, who looked much more comfortable as a scorer than distributor, and Anthony Edwards get loose. The Wolves held a comfortable 64-52 lead at the half.
The HEAT came out motivated to open the third quarter. Tyler Herro, in particular, was feisty scoring the ball both at the cup and from perimeter. Ant was ready to respond, trading blows with Herro back and forth. Just as it looked like Edwards was about to go off with one of his patented explosions, there was an unfortunate stop in action.
Anthony Edwards burst + deceleration + pull-up jumper, scary pic.twitter.com/lNItx65ba5— Timberwolves Clips (@WolvesClips) October 5, 2022
Both fanbases held their collective breathes as Herro went knee-to-knee with McDaniels in an awkward exchange, leaving both grimacing in pain and having to go to their benches following an immediate timeout. Although Herro was the only one to return to the court, it appears that both teams luckily avoided disaster.
Told that Jaden McDaniels is doing just fine after knocking knees with Tyler Herro. Wolves had seen enough from him after that, no reason to put him back in.— Jon Krawczynski (@JonKrawczynski) October 5, 2022
The home team used that opportunity to regroup to give the Wolves a taste of their own medicine, attacking off forced turnovers as well. They would go on a big 12-2 run, capped by a Bam Adebayo triple, to whittle their deficit down to just five points. That would be it for their first string though, as the HEAT momentum left the court with them. A five-point possession by Prince would pump the Wolves lead back up to double-digits and they would never look back.
Nate Knight poster dunk, incredible PnR pass by Jordan McLaughlin pic.twitter.com/GRyRtIcunR— Timberwolves Clips (@WolvesClips) October 5, 2022
The final 12 minutes of the game was purely academic. Knight single-handedly stifled any attempts at a Miami comeback. The Wolves rookies, Wendell Moore Jr. and Josh Minott, would get their first NBA run with the former looking much more composed. It wasn’t long before the final horn sounded with Minnesota leaving with all smiles.
D'Lo showing Rudy Gobert where he made the game winning block on Jimmy Butler 2 years ago pic.twitter.com/g16hHsTzPS— YoCoolio (@Y0Leo) October 5, 2022
Omega - Bryn Forbes
The sharpshooter from Lansing, Michigan made his presence felt in 18 minutes tonight. Finch drew up a number of plays for him where he would be flying around screens like a prime Rip Hamilton. It was a different type of movement and utility than that of Malik Beasley. He’ll certainly have off nights, but tonight was not one of them. Forbes finished with 15 points on just 4/6 shooting (2/3 3P), including two fouls drawn on three pointers.
Delta - Nathan Knight
In an evening where both KAT and Gobert were inactive, it was Knight who shined as the lone big. It was a workman like night for Nate, posting 14 points, 7 rebounds (team-high), and 2 assists in 16 productive minutes. Bam is usually a tough matchup, but he fared well against him while pushing around the other Miami backups.
Beta - Taurean Prince
The new heart and soul of the Wolves showed just how important he’ll be for the Wolves this season. There were a few times where it looked like the Minnesota was going to lose control of the game, but TP would drain a timely three pointer or muscle in an and-1. His calm leadership translated to 19 points (3 3PM), three rebounds, one assist, and three stocks.
Alpha - Anthony Edwards
How special is it that a player can have a relatively quiet game, yet still notch a game-high 24 points (2 3PM), three boards, three dimes, and one steal in just 23 minutes. He showed off a smooth mid-range game off the dribble, improved vision passing the ball, and continued to easily get his own in the painted area. A splendid start to the season for Black Jesus.
Canis Hoopus Comment of the Night
Minnesota will take to the skies and fly cross country to visit Patrick Beverley’s Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday 10/6 @ 9:00pm CT. The game will be taking place in Las Vegas at T-Mobile Arena. I’d guess that KAT will not play in that game, but perhaps D’Lo and Gobert will make their debut. The sparks will fly.