Carl-Anthony Towns has rarely experienced the professional joy he has had this season.
It wasn’t the best year for him statistically, though he scored 60 points in his career and franchise on March 14, becoming the first center since Shaquille O’Neill in 2000 to score 60 points in the game. It’s also not the first time he has hit the playoffs in Minnesota.
But, he said, this is the most supportive and cohesive team he has ever been a professional in.
“We’re a great team,” Townes said. “We have great chemistry. We are very confident in what we can do. We know that every time we go to the basketball court, we can beat anyone in the world. “
The Timberwolves (46-36) finished the regular season in seventh place in the Western Conference, and on Tuesday night in Minneapolis will meet the Los Angeles Clippers, who finished eighth. The winner will be the seventh seed in the playoffs and will face the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round. The loser will play again on Friday to get a chance to become the eighth seeded and meet the Phoenix Suns, who sowed at No. 1.
If the Timberwolves win this week, they will reach the playoffs for the second time since 2004. The only other time during this stretch “Minnesota” reached the playoffs in 2017-18 with Jimmy Butler.
This year was the seventh for the Towns in the NBA since the Timberwolves drafted it first in the overall standings in 2015 from the University of Kentucky.
Townes spoke with The New York Times about what he likes so much about this team and why he feels more confident in his talk of garbage these days.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
You’ve become close with guard Patrick Beverly this season. What did you think of him before playing with him?
I’ve always thought of Pat Bev as a pest, you know? Someone you hate to play against, but you’d love to have on your team. I was right. Having him as a teammate, you understand why many teams find in him such amazing value because he is so valuable to the team.
Do you remember when you started to realize how special he is for this team?
I mean, I used to know how special he was, just by his face and hearing him on the court and all. I already knew he was a different player. I knew he was special [for the Timberwolves] early only because of what energy it attracts and what energy it expends. The way he comes to work and the way he approaches work, I really appreciate and am very happy to see every day. It makes us all better, improves practice and makes us more involved.
After your game with 60 points, you said that you had not been marked like that before. What did you mean?
You have never been showered with such water, such a holiday for a player, and I have never felt that it was me.
I’m so used to feeling like every day at work is a different day; no matter what I laid out, this is what I have to do. I had to go out and give myself the best chance to win and score at high speed. So it was another day at the office. I knew it was a special moment, but it was something I had to do. That’s how I felt.
[My teammates] made it more special and they did what is worth noting. As I said, I have never been given such flowers in my career, so it was cool when my teammates respected and respected me, but also celebrated.
Does it help the confidence of individual players, not only you, but everyone, to have such closeness in the team you talked about?
Yes, because everyone understands that we all want to sacrifice for the betterment of each other and for the betterment of this team. Everything we need to win, we will do as a team. I think with victory comes glory for all. So we fight for the same thing, and that’s what makes us so dangerous.
Given everything you’ve been through in terms of basketball, have you ever wondered if you’ll ever be part of such a team?
No, I never doubted. I never doubted what I could do. I never doubted my skill set, my competitive advantage, my competitiveness. I never doubted the work I put in. I knew I just had to wait for my chance. I had to wait for my chance to have such a team, to have such a great coaching staff. And I’ve had great coaching staffs, but when a coaching staff connects with a group of guys like them, it creates victories and creates camaraderie and chemistry. I knew I just needed stability and chance and I would run with it and make the most of it.
You guys got a lot of attention for the way you talked about the Los Angeles Lakers when they were in Minneapolis in March. You do not always show such arrogance. What made you feel comfortable showing this side of yourself?
Just chemistry I have with the guys to know that any situation I get into – I feel like we’re moving like a gang. Feel like we’re moving like a gang, not even in a bad way, in a negative connotation, but even more so when I walk the court, I feel like I have 14 brothers behind me in everything I do.
This allows me to pull more of my jersey. I’m from Jersey. Talk a little about garbage, but more bribery, the confidence with which we walk our neighborhoods. It’s always great when you feel like you have a team behind you that is with you in the trenches, but also wins. You won’t say too much if you lose.
If the playoff system was the same as before, you guys would just be in the first round series. What do you think of the game tournament?
If we didn’t want to participate in a game tournament, we had to get more wins and be sixth or fifth seed. That’s just it. I’m not here to complain about any of this. You have to do what you have to do.
Are you any different from when you last played in the playoffs?
My situation is completely different. I am happy to be in this situation.
Can you extend this?
Nah. I don’t want to expand on that. I’m not going back to some past [stuff]. The past is the past. I’ve been through this once before and I’m happy to experience it differently this time.