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Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

How Dallas Mavericks Need to Be More ‘Aware’ to Contain the Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns

By Vaseline May30,2024

MINNEAPOLIS – After averaging 15.0 points per game in the Western Conference Finals entering Game 4, Karl-Anthony Towns turned in a dynamic performance that was needed for the Minnesota Timberwolves to win 105-100 and to avoid being eliminated by the Dallas Mavericks. Despite playing through foul trouble, he scored 20 of his 25 points in the second half.

“Being aggressive,” Towns said. “There’s no time to have any doubts, especially now that it’s Game 4, down 3-0. There is no time to doubt.”

May 28, 2024;  Dallas, Texas, USA;  Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) reacts against the Dallas Mavericks during the fourth quarter of game four of the Western Conference finals for the 2024 NBA playoffs at the American Airlines Center.  Mandatory credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

May 28, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) reacts against the Dallas Mavericks during the fourth quarter of game four of the Western Conference finals for the 2024 NBA playoffs at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota trusted Towns to find his form at some point in this series, as every great player does, and he delivered. Throughout the series, Timberwolves coach Chris Finch has emphasized how important it is for Towns to slow down the way he plays and felt he accomplished this in Game 4.

“KAT is a great player,” Finch said. “His struggles weren’t going to last forever. He got himself going. Even when he was in deep trouble, we left him out there. … Just let him roll, and he played smart, played under control and recovered very well. us, executed defensively. I’m really proud of him. Tonight was a great step for him.”

Edwards echoed Finch’s sentiment, praising Towns for staying aggressive and not standing still in recent performances, saying, “He was super confident,” he said. “He wasn’t worried about shots prior to the shots he hit tonight. He played extremely well.”

Late in Game 4, Towns used two catch-and-shoot 3-pointers to bolster the Timberwolves’ prospects and close out the game, while scoring a total of 10 points on three makes from the perimeter. It turned the tide for Minnesota to regain the lead. Luka Doncic acknowledged the need for Dallas to tighten up the way the team guards Towns.

“I think he hit two big threes for them when we were up by one,” Doncic said of Towns. “That was really exciting. We have to tackle him better.”

Kyrie Irving shared his respect for the skills Towns brings to the Timberwolves and describes some of the criticism the big man has received as unfair.

“Despite the criticism he’s gotten … the unfair criticism sometimes, even if he doesn’t shoot the ball particularly well, or he doesn’t shoot the first three games, he’s a great player,” Irving said of Towns. “I respect him. I know my colleagues respect them, and my teammates respect him.”

With Dereck Lively II unavailable to play due to a neck sprain, the Mavericks had less capable personnel to protect the paint while being able to stay home more on shooters. Towns was also able to attack the paint more effectively than in previous performances.

“Some of the shots he hit tonight he missed in the first three games, and he got to the rim, but we have big players there contesting his shot, so it was a little bit harder,” Irving said.

Entering Game 5, Irving emphasized the importance of paying more attention to where Towns is on the floor and how the Timberwolves are making plays for him to get clean looks. Minnesota has often used flare screens and corner pin-ins to clear space for Towns during this series, but he struggled to consistently knock down shots until Game 4.

“There were some again in the fourth quarter, and looking back at some of those plays that he took advantage of, that was of the utmost importance,” Irving said. “They ran the same play, then a couple light screens with him being the catch-and-shoot receiver. We just had to be aware of where he’s moving on the floor.”

“He tries to hide behind the defense and get some easy players. That’s what great players do,” Irving explained. “They figure it out, and it’s a series… I expected him to at least come out with the aggression to put his team in a great position to win the ball game, and he did, so he achieved that, and now we’re moving forward.” forward.”

It remains to be seen if Lively will be available for Game 5, as he came in as doubtful on Thursday based on the injury report. Whether he can play or not, the Mavericks need to slow Towns down in Game 5 as Anthony Edwards is going to get him either way.

Keep up MavericksGameday for more coverage of the Dallas Mavericks during the NBA Playoffs.

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