By: Dan Slaubaugh
The Wolves are back in Minneapolis tonight for a matchup with the Indiana Pacers. This will be the first of two meeting two meetings this season, with Indiana winning both matchups a season ago.
Coming into the season, I thought Indiana would compete for home court advantage in the first round of the NBA playoffs. They had just added three solid veterans in Thaddeus Young, Al Jefferson, and Jeff Teague to compliment one of the best two-way players in the league in Paul George.
Although their season is far from a disaster, things have not went quite as planned. They currently boast a 22-22 record, good for 6th in the Eastern Conference. Their offseason additions have been alright, but nothing that have pushed them over the curve. Paul George has been really good, but not great. One continued bright spot for Indiana this year has been the play of sophomore center Myles Turner, who's averaging 15.7 points 7.6 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks (4th in NBA) per game.
The Wolves come into tonight's game on a three-game winning streak after wins against LAC, Denver, and Phoenix. Karl-Anthony Towns has been sensational lately. In the past eight games, he's averaging 27.3 points, 13.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2 blocks, and 1.1 steals while shooting 64% from the field and 86% from the charity stripe.
The Wolves went 6-2 over that span. Coincidence? I think not.
It would truly be a shame if I went this whole article without mentioning Mr. Clutch ice-in-his-veins Andrew Wiggins, who rescued himself - after clanking another crunch-time free throw - and the Wolves by hitting a fadeaway jumper in P.J. Tucker's face with just a second left on the clock.
Wiggins finished the night 11-22 from the field with 31 points, six rebounds, three assists, two steals, and two triples.
He's now scored 24+ points in three straight games, while dishing 3+ dimes in five straight games.
A few quick notes for tonight's game
Since their 6-28 start, the Wolves are 11-10 with the NBA's 8th best defensive rating.
The Wolves boast the NBA's third best record in 2017 with a record of 6-2.
Gorgui Dieng leads the NBA in mid-range FG% at 51.3% (h/t John Meyer - Canis Hoopus).
Wolves win 104-98. LaVine gets back on his feet after his recent struggles, pours in 24 points with four triples.
Zach LaVine is retiring from the dunk contest...for now
This morning at shootaround, Zach LaVine confirmed that he will not be participating in this years dunk contest.
To be honest, I didn't really expect him to participate this year. What else does he have to show? I think the judges are probably ready for a new winner and I'd rather see him walk away now than potentially go out on a loss.
More importantly, I think it's great that he's not participating because he wants to focus on preserving his body for the demands of what the final 37 games will bring. It's clear the team has their eyes on that 8-seed, so it makes sense why he would want to rest during the All-Star break.
LaVine not entering the dunk contest this year will undoubtedly leave fans saddened, but it certainly suggests as a rational idea to shred the dunk label while trying to cement one self as a well-rounded player in this league.
And hey, maybe he'll return to defend his trophy after the Wolves win the NBA title in 2021.
Thanks for reading. Enjoy the game. Go Wolves.