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Is Karl-Anthony Towns' performance in the play-in game a concern for the Timberwolves?

Locked On Wolves podcast host Ben Beecken explains why fans shouldn't be worried after a lackluster performance from Towns on Tuesday night.

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Timberwolves are heading to the NBA playoffs for just the second time since 2005 after a 109-104 win against the Clippers in the play-in tournament earned them the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference.

The Wolves will move on to play the Memphis Grizzlies in the playoffs, who they split the season series with 2-2.

It was the guard play for the Timberwolves that helped them come back to defeat the Clippers, with 30 points from second year star Anthony Edwards and 29 more from D’Angelo Russell. But, star big man Karl-Anthony Towns was almost nowhere to be seen on the stat sheet, at least by his standards, with just 11 points on 3-for-11 shooting and five rebounds.

Locked On Wolves podcast host Ben Beecken joined the Locked On Today podcast to recap the game and address Towns’ performance. 

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Beecken said it appears that the Clippers is just a tough matchup for Towns. He hasn't been nearly as effective against that team this year.

“He played three games against L.A. in the regular season and averaged 15 and 6 rebounds, the Clippers basically put together the blueprint for how to slow down Karl-Anthony Towns and because of their length and coaching, the way they played defense, they were able to execute that blueprint," Beecken said on Locked On Today.

On the other hand, Beecken said Memphis actually provides a much better matchup for the Minnesota big man. 

“Memphis hasn’t really slowed down Karl-Anthony Towns. He’s averaging a double-double against them. He shot 39% from three against them, 54% from the field. Obviously Memphis has some good bigs like Jaren Jackson Jr. I just think it’s a much better matchup for the Timberwolves. I’m not saying at all that the Grizzlies aren’t as good as the Clippers. But from a matchup perspective.”

Additionally, Beecken said Towns will now get a playoff series to jump start out of that poor performance, without added pressure from a potential second play-in game.

“If the Wolves had lost this game, which it looked like they were going to at many points, the pressure on Karl-Anthony Towns in a potential 8-seed play-in game against the Spurs or Pelicans would have bene far greater than the pressure is now," Beecken said. "Obviously he’s going to have to answer those questions, but he’s got a whole series now instead of one game where it’s all on the line to kind of answer back and show that he’s better than he was on Tuesday.”

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Meanwhile, let's look at the positives for Minnesota and the fact that they were able to pull out a win against a tough opponent despite their star big man's performance. Beecken said the Timberwolves finding a way to win despite things not going according to plan bodes well for the inexperienced team.

“The Towns conversation is a separate one but part of it is Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell absolutely stepping up when the Timberwolves needed it the most and it’s not at all the blueprint that the Wolves put together for this game but obviously it worked out," Beecken said.

Anthony Edwards put up 30 points Tuesday night with five threes. What do the Wolves need from Anthony Edwards in this upcoming series against the Grizzlies?

“Consistency," Beecken said. "He’s had more of that this year than he did when he was a rookie but he’s had these swoons where he’s put together inconsistent stretches…It’s the playoffs, he always likes when the lights are bright he’s always said that, even though this is his first time. I think we’re going to see more of the same, maybe some high volume three point shooting. He’s a good on-ball defender right now and he’s in attack mode all the time. I’d rather have an aggressive Anthony Edwards making a few mistakes than somebody who disappears.”

The Timberwolves face the Grizzlies in a seven game series in the first round of the playoffs beginning Saturday. The first two games will be in Memphis before heading back to Minnesota.

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