The surging Minnesota Timberwolves have won four in a row, but many remain understandably skeptical about the young team’s potential.
Those skeptics may gain some clarity starting Wednesday, when the Timberwolves take a step up in competition against the visiting Miami Heat.
The Timberwolves’ opponents during their winning streak (Sacramento, San Antonio, Memphis and New Orleans) stood a combined 22-48 entering Tuesday’s play.
Miami, meanwhile, improved to 1-1 on its four-game trip — and 12-6 overall — with Tuesday’s come-from-behind 100-92 win over the Detroit Pistons.
Center Karl-Anthony Towns is averaging 23.4 points and 9.3 rebounds while shooting 50.5 percent from the floor to lead Minnesota, which has won five of seven following a six-game losing skid.
“It ain’t a five-game win streak. So that’s the perspective,” Towns said. “We haven’t done enough. There’s nothing to celebrate with a four-game winning streak. A lot of games to do and we’ve got a lot of things we say we want to do. And it takes more than a four-game winning streak to get it done.”
The Timberwolves look to take another step forward against Miami, which outscored Detroit 33-16 in the fourth quarter on Tuesday to win for the fifth time in its last six games.
Guard Tyler Herro finished with a season-high 31 points and scored at least 20 points off the bench for the ninth time this season.
The Heat also received a spark from guard Duncan Robinson, whose status was in doubt after leaving Saturday’s loss to the Washington Wizards in the third quarter with a bruised right knee.
Robinson scored 11 points in Tuesday’s win while extending his streak of consecutive regular-season games played to 165, nine away from the franchise-record streak set by Glen Rice from 1992-94.
Robinson hit three 3-pointers in the victory to extend his franchise record to 66 consecutive games with at least one conversion.
One of the key matchups on Wednesday will be near the basket, where Towns will contend with Miami center Bam Adebayo.
The 6-foot-9 Adebayo had 15 points, nine rebounds and five assists in the win over Detroit and continues to impress his teammates.
“You can’t say what his ceiling is, or what the cap on the guy’s talent is because he’s getting better and better every year,” Miami forward Jimmy Butler said. “And I think that’s the best part of his game is he’s always adding something, and he’s just becoming more and more comfortable in any and all situations you put him in.”
Miami will need Adebayo’s offense against Minnesota, which has held its past five opponents under 100 points.
Guard Anthony Edwards is averaging 22.2 points for the Wolves while fourth-year forward Jarred Vanderbilt has solidified his place in the starting lineup over the past seven games.
Vanderbilt matched his season high with 16 points in Monday’s victory and has grabbed at least 10 rebounds in three straight games.
Vanderbilt has combined with veteran Patrick Beverley to give the Wolves a strong defensive presence that was lacking early in the season.
“His play is inspirational, really,” Minnesota coach Chris Finch said. “When someone is working that hard, you can’t help but cheer for it, and you’ve got to work as hard alongside of him.”