The Timberwolves are giant killers. Minnesota beat the scorching Wizards on Monday night behind another massive outing from Karl-Anthony Towns (the reigning Western Conference Player of the Week) and 19 assists from Ricky Rubio. That win goes into a bucket with recent Minnesota wins over Golden State, the Clippers, and Utah. The Wolves have won seven of their last 10 against a pretty darn tough schedule. (The tough schedule continues with Boston and Miami this week.)
Over those 10 games, Towns is averaging 28 and 15 on 61 percent shooting. Rubio is averaging 14 and 11. But the important part is the defense, in which both of those guys also factor heavily. Over the past 10 games Minnesota has the No. 2 defense in the league (again, that comes against some damn good teams). Defense is what held the Wolves back early this season. It’s also what we knew Tom Thibodeau would install as the new coach of the team. It’s happening now.
Unfortunately, Minnesota dug too deep a hole even in the shallow West. The Wolves are 3.5 games behind the hot Nuggets with 16 games to go. That’s a tough path. So we look toward next year, where — barring injuries — Minnesota will be a popular and safer pick to end their long playoff drought. Their path looks like it may follow that of the Utah Jazz: from the playoff fringe to a solid mid-pack team in a year or two. It’ll be interesting to see how Thibodeau attacks the offseason as a personnel guy.
For now, it’s really nice to watch Rubio thrive after all the trade rumors and watching Towns is always a revelation.