Karl-Anthony Towns and ‘Swaggy’ Timberwolves are ready

Karl-Anthony Towns has rarely experienced this professional joy this season.

It hasn’t been his best year statistically, although he scored 60 points in his career and franchise on March 14, 2000, when Shaquille O’Neal was the first center to score 60 points in a game. It’s not the first time he’s had a shot in the Minnesota playoffs.

But, he said, it is the most supportive and united team ever as a professional.

“We’re a proud team,” Towns said. “We have great chemistry. We feel very confident in what we can do. We know we can beat anyone in the world every time we step on the basketball court. ”

The Timberwolves (46-36) finished seventh in the regular season in the Western Conference and will face the eighth-ranked Los Angeles Clippers in a play-in tournament in Minneapolis on Tuesday night. The winner will be ranked seventh in the playoffs and will face the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round. The loser will play again on Friday to be ranked eighth and face the Phoenix Suns first-place finisher.

If the Timberwolves win this week, they will be in the playoffs for the second time since 2004. The only time Minnesota played in the playoffs during that time was in 2017-18, with Jimmy Butler.

This year is Towns ’seventh in the NBA since the Timberwolves first ranked at the University of Kentucky in 2015.

Towns spoke to The New York Times about what he loves so much about this group and why he feels more confident in his trash talk these days.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

You’ve been approached by defender Patrick Beverley this season. What did you think before you played with him?

I always thought of Pat Bev as a plague, you know? Someone you hate playing but would love to be on your team. I was right. Now that you’re a teammate, you see why so many teams find it so amazing that it’s so valuable to a team.

Do you remember when you started to realize how special this group was?

I mean, I knew in advance how special he was, outside of his personality and hearing on the court and everything. I already knew he was a different kind of player. I knew it was special [for the Timberwolves] because of the type of energy it initially attracts and the type of energy it expends. I really appreciate the way they come to work and the way they get to work and I am very happy to see them every day. It improves us all, practices us better, and engages us more.

After your 60-point game, you said you weren’t going to have a celebration like that. What did you mean?

You’ve never shed water, such a thing, such a celebration to a player, and to be me, I’ve never experienced anything like that.

I’m so used to feeling that it’s another day at work every day; regardless of what I put in, it’s what I need to do. I had to go outside and give ourselves the best chance and win at a high rate and score a goal. So it was just another day in the office. I knew it was a special moment, but it was something I had to do. I felt that way.

[My teammates] they made it more special and something to celebrate. As I said, I’ve never been given a flower like this in my career, so it’s been nice to have my teammates appreciate and respect my teammates, but also to celebrate.

Does it help to have the confidence of individual players, not yours but everyone else, to be close as a team that you have spoken to?

Yes, because everyone understands that we all want to sacrifice for the betterment of each other and for the betterment of this group. All we need to do is win as a team. I think winning is a glory for everyone. So we are fighting for the same thing, and that is what makes us so dangerous.

Seeing everything you’ve experienced in the sense of basketball, have you ever wondered if you’d ever be on a team like that?

No, I never hesitated. I never doubted myself for what I could do. I never questioned my skill set, my competitiveness, my competitiveness. I never questioned the work I put into it. I knew I had to wait for my chance. I had to wait for my chance to be a team like that, to be such a great coach. And I’ve had great coaching teams, but combining a coaching team the way they do with a boys team wins and creates camaraderie and chemistry. I knew I needed some stability and a chance and that I would run and take advantage of it.

When you were in Minneapolis in March, you got a lot of attention for the way the Los Angeles Lakers avoided you and talked rudely. You don’t always show such arrogance. What made you comfortable showing your side?

Just to find out if I’m in any situation with the chemistry I have with the boys – I feel like we’re moving like a gang. Feeling like we’re moving like a gang, not in a bad way, in a negative way, but I feel like I have 14 brothers behind me in everything I do when I’m on the court.

It allows me to get more out of my jersey side. I’m from Jersey. That’s a bit of a discussion, but more of a joke, the confidence we walk in our neighborhoods. It’s always good to have a team with you in the trenches when you feel behind it, but also to win. You won’t say too much when you’re losing.

If the knockout system was the same as before, you would be in the first round. What is your opinion on the play-in tournament?

If we didn’t want to be in the play-off tournament, we would have to get more wins and be ranked sixth or fifth. That’s just it. I have nothing to complain about. You have to do what you have to do.

Is there a different way you personally participated in the playoffs the last time?

My situation is completely different. I am happy to walk in such a situation.

Can you spread that?

No. I don’t want to spread that. I won’t go back to the past [stuff]. The past is the past. I’ve already gone through it once and I’m glad I will go through it in a different way this time.

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