MINNEAPOLIS — Thanks to a few offseason acquisitions, plenty of excitement surrounded the Minnesota Timberwolves heading into the 2017-18 season. Now Minnesota is riding high after one of the team’s most exciting finishes in a long time.
The Timberwolves enter their Tuesday game against the Indiana Pacers with a 2-1 record, thanks in large part to a buzzer-beater by Andrew Wiggins on Sunday in a 115-113 victory at Oklahoma City.
Minnesota has won two straight after dropping its season opener, but the half-court heave off the backboard by Wiggins could stand as one of the Wolves’ highlights of the year.
“He’s been hitting that shot, weirdly enough, the whole offseason and in practice,” said teammate Karl-Anthony Towns, who set what the NBA subsequently announced was an illegal screen on the winning play.
Wiggins was asked after the game if he called his bank shot. Towns stepped in to answer the question.
“He called ‘game,'” Towns told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Wiggins finished the game with 27 points and has topped the 20-point mark in all three games so far this year. His strong start comes shortly after signing a lucrative multiyear contract extension with Minnesota just before the season started.
With that memorable finish still fresh on their minds, the Timberwolves welcome the Pacers (1-2) to the newly renovated Target Center for a matchup Tuesday. After winning its season opener against the Nets, Indiana dropped consecutive games to the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday and the Miami Heat on Saturday.
The Pacers fell 112-108 in Miami. Indiana shot 44.8 percent from the floor as a team.
“I thought we took some bad shots because we didn’t have the movement we wanted,” Indiana coach Nate McMillan said. “We just didn’t have that rhythm that we want to play with.”
Indiana will be without center Myles Turner, who will miss his third consecutive game due to a concussion and sore neck he sustained in the Pacers’ season opener. Turner had 21 points and a game-high 14 rebounds in Indiana’s win over the Brooklyn Nets.
Minnesota has five players averaging double-figure scoring through three games, including newcomer Jimmy Butler. Acquired from the Bulls in the offseason, Butler is tied for third on the Wolves at 13.3 points per game. Wiggins leads Minnesota at 24.7 points per game, and Towns is second at 21.7.
Victor Oladipo has been Indiana’s top scorer in the early going. His average of 22.3 points tops the seven Pacers who are scoring in double digits.
Minnesota and Indiana split their two-game series during the 2016-17 season. Both teams won on the road, with the Timberwolves eking out a 115-114 victory on three late free throws in the final seconds. That costly foul was committed by point guard Jeff Teague, who is now in his first season with Minnesota.
This will be Indiana’s first visit to the new-look Target Center, which underwent a $140 million renovation this offseason. Among the highlights are new seats and a new court with Minnesota’s new branding.
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