A pair of undefeated teams will battle when the Philadelphia 76ers host the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday.
The Sixers improved to 3-0 with a 105-103 win on the road against the Atlanta Hawks on Monday. All-Star center Joel Embiid rallied the Sixers from eight points down in the final 4:36 and finished with 36 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Josh Richardson added 14 points while Tobias Harris and Ben Simmons had 13 apiece in the balanced effort.
The Sixers are the last remaining unbeaten team in the Eastern Conference and will face the Timberwolves (3-0), one of three perfect teams in the West.
“It doesn’t matter,” Embiid said of the 3-0 record. “We’ve still got 79 games. So that’s a long way. Three-and-0, you know, we are very fortunate to be in this position. But we’ve still got a lot of work to do, me especially.”
Embiid was called for seven turnovers and the Sixers lost their composure a bit as guard-forward Mike Scott was ejected for a flagrant-2 foul in the second quarter against Damian Jones. But the Sixers managed to rally to a third win by relying on Embiid down the stretch. Last season, Jimmy Butler (now with the Miami Heat) took most of the clutch shots in late-game situations.
“He was our crown jewel in a blatant way,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said of Embiid. “We needed him, particularly offensively.”
Reserve guard Shake Milton left Monday’s game in the third quarter with a hyperextended left knee after scoring nine points. Milton’s status is unclear for the game against Minnesota.
The unbeaten Timberwolves may be the most surprising team in the league thus far. Karl-Anthony Towns, the reigning Western Conference Player of the Week, had 23 points and 11 rebounds as Minnesota defeated the Miami Heat, 116-109, on Sunday.
Andrew Wiggins scored 25 points and Jeff Teague had 21 to give them three 20-plus point scorers. The Timberwolves have tied the 2013-14 team with three straight wins. In 2001-02, they won their first six games.
While Towns is arguably off to the best start of his career, the Timberwolves are surging because of Wiggins’ ability to knock down shots. In all three wins, Minnesota has trailed at some point.
“He’s a star player and he knows when he has to kick it up,” Towns said of Wiggins. “For some reason, he always hits those shots at the end when we need him the most.”
Wiggins poured in 16 of his team-high 25 points in the final six minutes for the comeback victory. He hit four shots from beyond the 3-point arc.
“It’s going to take time for all of it to come together with our emphasis and changing of systems, but he is going to have a good year,” Minnesota head coach Ryan Saunders said. “I’m in his corner, and I want to make sure he knows that.”
This game will serve as a bit of a homecoming for Timberwolves guard Robert Covington, who played for Philadelphia for four-plus seasons (2014-19). Covington was dealt to Minnesota in a multi-player trade for Butler last season.
Covington missed both games against the Sixers last season due to a bone bruise on his right knee.
–Field Level Media
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