For over a year Timberwolves fans have wondered what it might look like when D'Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns get to play together.
They're starting to get some answers and the returns so far have been positive, perhaps no more so than down the stretch of their 121-117 win over the Bulls.
Towns and Russell operated the late-game pick and roll to perfection and were able to get shots operating off a set offense Chris Finch likes to start at the elbows.
"When big fella is like that, he's playing the best he can play, he's forcing the defense to react and make plays off him, and it makes our job that much easier," said Russell, who had 27 points. "Once we can get the defense focused on him, it allows Ant [Anthony Edwards] to be Ant, it allows me to be me, it allows Ricky [Rubio] to be Ricky, and that's a trickle down effect. So it felt really good to get out there and take advantage of that."
They took advantage of those opportunities the Bulls gave them and hit several big shots —shots that were open because of the attention the Bulls were paying each of them — in the final minutes. Towns finished with 27 points as well.
"Me and D-Lo talked the other night about how excited we are about how good we really are," Towns said. "We just haven't played that well, but we see it. We can see it."
Finch initiated some late-game offense with a set that begins at the elbow. Towns, Edwards and Russell operate in that area and Finch said the design is to make the defense make difficult decisions in a tight space on who to guard.
"Mostly, they're going to have to play [Towns] one on one, and we have great angles for cutting and spacing around him. The other thing is, he's really one dribble from the rim and he can also, if he would like to take himself to the perimeter, he can take an escape dribble with a dribble handoff or something like that, now he's in a pick and pop situation and that pulls the defender away from the paint."
Sometimes just calling a simple pick and roll will do out of that set. Finch said he viewed his job to mostly get out of the way in that situation.
"That's the overall approach of mine is to kind of keep things simple, create a structure and get out of the way," Finch said. "These guys are great players and it's my job to let them be great."