If you haven’t already, check out Leo Sun’s fantastic game one recap that highlights the feeling of traveling back in time and revisiting the sins of last year’s Minnesota Timberwolves. After you’ve read the basketball breakdown, there are still a few key stats to highlight and accolades to be delivered, and the Dunks After Dusk Crew is here to give them. First, our two key stats of the night:
- Fast Break Points: Toronto Raptors 34, Minnesota Timberwolves 12
- Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns Combined Shooting: 16-52
These stats actually play off each other quite nicely. Sticky hands and poor shot selection led to plenty of misses (34% shooting for the team) and those misses led to transition opportunities and easy buckets for the Raptors. In a game that featured some elite half court defense for both teams, the biggest swinging point in the game was one team taking advantage of the misses and turnovers while the other did not.
As for KAT and Edwards, hard to sum up their offensive effort better than Britt Robson did:
When Finch talked about decision-making last night it was hard not to infer that he was taking aim at the folks at the top of rotation.— brittrobson (@brittrobson) October 26, 2023
Both KAT and Ant showed absurdly low court IQ in terms of shot selection, passing and overall recognition of what Raps were trying to take away.
Perfectly stated. Onto the awards!
The Big Ticket Award: Rudy Gobert
As a homage to the franchise’s best player, this award goes to the best player in the game. Sure, it feels a little empty to hand out a best player award in a disappointing loss like this, but as my co-host put it, “If this is the Rudy Gobert we’re going to see for the rest of the season, the Timberwolves will be a top five defense”.
The Timberwolves have a team defensive rating of 96, 3rd best in the league following opening night. The half-court defense was near perfect, anchored by Gobert in the middle blocking shots, contesting others, and shutting down the paint.
The Josh Okogie Award: Kyle Anderson
This award goes to the player who did all the little things to help the team win. Just like last year, Slo-Mo came in and did all the little things you could ask for. His +15 plus/minus on the night passes the eye-test; the Wolves were simply much better when he was on the floor.
Kyle Anderson and Rudy Gobert were the team’s two best players on the floor last night.
The Sam Obisanya Goldfish Award: Nickel Alexander-Walker
In an eighty-two game season, bad or forgettable games are going to happen. On the opposite end of Kyle Anderson, NAW was a team worst -17, including playing some less-than-standout defense and being 0-3 on his three point shooting, a key component of his role offensively. After this one, Alexander-Walker needs to have the memory of a goldfish and get ready for Saturday night as he’ll need to be ready to shut down General Soreness and the Miami Heat.
The David Kahn Award: KAT’s Entry Pass to Rudy Gobert with 30 Seconds Left
This award is for the moment that made you jump off your couch and scream KAHHHNNN!
As far as individual clips go to describe a game, this would be a 10/10 example pic.twitter.com/VkAzMqv3De— John Meyer (@meyerNBA) October 26, 2023
There it is. As my co-host put it, “Towns just threw a 200mph fastball on a two yard hitch route.” The intention to score fast is noted, but I mean… c’mon now.
The Ann Veal “Her?” Award: Starting Nickiel Alexander-Walker Over Kyle Anderson
This award is given to an in-game decision (coaching or player) that makes us go, “Huh? Her?”
Toronto’s roster is an uber-athletic and lengthy roster where Kyle Anderson would have been a better matchup from the get-go. That being said, Slo-Mo did end up playing more minutes and closing the game, so this feels more like a nitpick than anything.
The Naz Reid Award: Naz Reid
This award goes to the player that most personifies the spirit of Naz Reid in the game. And while there were a lot of contenders for this one, a player that leads your bench in scoring and wears number eleven?
Yeah, we’re going to have to give this one to Naz Reid.
The Ed Malloy Award: N/A
The last of our awards is dedicated to Ed Malloy and is for a standout referee moment from the game. From last night, there was nothing that jumped out at either of us. The refs did the thing that you ask of them every night: they were consistent on both ends of the floor, even if they let more go in the second half of the game.
For these awards and more, check out the Dunks After Dusk podcast on both Apple and Spotify. Throughout the season, we’ll be reacting to games, handing out awards, and just enjoying together that gift that is Timberwolves fandom… even on those days when it feels more like a curse.
* A few of the awards have been altered from the podcast picks for the sake of ease of understanding. To find out what the “Jake Layman Award” and “Crunch in a Bathrobe” awards are, check out the episode!