The Minnesota Timberwolves clinched the 7th seed in the Western Conference after defeating the Los Angeles Clippers in a close matchup in the first round of the play-in tournament.
Anthony Edwards made the most of the biggest game of his career, going off for 30 points on 10-of-21 shooting. D'Angelo Russell chipped in with 29 points, six assists, five rebounds, and three steals.
Much was made about the post-game celebrations, with Patrick Beverley breaking down in tears while running around the court, followed by him and Edwards standing on the scorer's table trying to hype up a packed-out crowd in Minneapolis.
However, the Wolves didn't have it entirely easy - they had to cope with an underperforming Karl-Anthony Towns, who struggled to find his shot in the first half while picking up his fourth foul before he even had a chance to enter the locker room for halftime.
Towns finished with just 11 points on 3-of-11 shooting to go along with five rebounds and three assists on the night.
The 26-year-old center seemed to figure things out a little bit in the third quarter, and he managed some success by getting to the free-throw line and crashing the offensive glass to get some points on the board.
But, Towns picked up his fifth foul after pushing not one but two Clippers defenders out of his way on the drive to the rim within the last four minutes of the third quarter.
Towns re-entered the game with a little under 9:30 left in the fourth, but he didn't even last two minutes, as he picked up his final foul on an over and back while fighting for a rebound.
How can KAT adjust?
The Clippers had a clear and concise game plan against Towns and were very well set up - throwing double teams at him out on the perimeter with some variation of Nicolas Batum, Robert Covington, Marcus Morris, and Reggie Jackson all using their size and length to close his driving lanes or force him to pass the ball.
Those defenders slowing Towns down allowed Ivica Zubac to establish a better position in the paint to negate what Towns does best near the rim.
Credit to Clippers coach Tyronn Lue for anticipating this being a big part of Minnesota's game plan, which the Memphis Grizzlies will be sure to study ahead of their first-round matchup.
For the Timberwolves to get out ahead of the Grizzlies, they should start by running some pick-and-roll sets with Edwards and D'Lo, which will open up lanes for KAT to cut off the ball and finish with authority.
They should also look to feature KAT in more post-up situations, where he could use his combination of size, strength, and soft-touch to get some easy baskets or draw easy fouls.
The Timberwolves relied on Towns to be a floor-spacing big, which is hard to blame them for, given that he shoots 40 percent from three.
However, the 3-point shot becomes less effective during the postseason time, and given that KAT has to rely on his power and athleticism when driving to the rim instead of finesse, he will become extremely vulnerable in double team situations.
If you give him the ball in his sweet spot in the post, all he needs to worry about is going to work. Once he gets into that rhythm, driving lanes and open 3-point opportunities will open up for him.
We all love the emotion on show when KAT takes to the court,, but sometimes he needs to learn how to compose himself in big moments. Plus cutting down on the fouls would help.
All in all, there's a reason why KAT found himself in the MVP conversation this season, and he won't let one bad performance define his postseason. Expect the Piscataway, NJ native to turn things around in this upcoming series against Memphis.