Butler faces old team as 76ers host Timberwolves
The Philadelphia 76ers will look for a second straight victory when they host the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night.
The matchup is spicier because of the recent trade between the teams. The main piece in the trade was All-Star Jimmy Butler going to the Sixers. Minnesota received several players in return, highlighted by forwards Robert Covington and Dario Saric.
It will be Butler's first game against his former team.
The Timberwolves (21-22) are 17-13 since trading Butler, who is averaging 19.4 points this season.
The Sixers (28-16) are coming off a 108-105 road win over the New York Knicks on Sunday, when Ben Simmons had one of the best games of his young career with 20 points, 22 rebounds and nine assists. Simmons wasn't quite able to post his eighth triple-double of the season, but he was incredibly active on both ends of the court.
"We have to lock down on defense and offensively take care of the ball," Simmons told reporters. "I think that's really it. Everyone really needs to be locked in."
Simmons' 22 rebounds were a career high.
Simmons, 22, also became the youngest player in Sixers history to post at least 20 points and 20 rebounds in the same game. In November of 1993, 21-year-old Shaquille O'Neal of the Orlando Magic had 24 points and 28 rebounds against the New Jersey Nets.
"An assist away from an incredible triple-double," Sixers head coach Brett Brown said of Simmons' performance against the Knicks. "The numbers are dominant."
For the Sixers, this will be the start a difficult stretch against quality opponents.
"I'm excited," center Joel Embiid told reporters. "We're going to see how good we are and how good we can become or how bad we are. The next three weeks are going to shape our season."
In Minnesota's last game, forward Karl-Anthony Towns had a monstrous performance with 27 points and a career-best 27 rebounds in a 110-106 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday.
"I just want to be the energy my team needs on a nightly basis," Towns told reporters after securing the most rebounds in a single game by any NBA player this season. "And if they need more, I've got to be able to bring it."
Towns was 10 of 23 from the field and blocked four shots during his dominating game. Towns, who talked about being more aggressive before the game, became the fifth player in NBA history to post at least 27 points, 27 rebounds and four blocked shots in a game.
"Twenty-seven rebounds means you're really playing to win," Minnesota interim head coach Ryan Saunders said.
"And you're playing meaningful possessions where you understand that this was a win that we needed against a team that we're going to be fighting for for playoff positioning. So for Karl to say that and then come out and do it, that's a big testament to him."
Timberwolves point guard Jeff Teague (11.7 points, 8.4 assists per game) suffered an ankle injury late in the first half. He came back briefly in the second half before sitting out. Teague's status for the game against the Sixers was unclear as Monday afternoon.
--Field Level Media
Updated January 15, 2019