Dwight Howard says 2024 Timberwolves remind him of 2020 Lakers: ‘I ain’t gon’ even front’

Jesse Cinquini
3 Min Read
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Former NBA big man Dwight Howard said during a recent Space on X (formerly Twitter) that the 2023-24 Minnesota Timberwolves remind him of the 2019-20 Los Angeles Lakers, a team that won the NBA Finals with his help.

“I ain’t gon’ even front,” Howard said. “Watchin’ Minnesota play this year, they remind me, just the chemistry that our team had when we won our championship, especially the defensive intensity that we had. Our defense — our defensive intensity was through the roof. We pressured every possession. We forced teams to take tough shots, and it look like Minnesota is doin’ the exact same thing. They pressurin’. They full court. They got Denver frustrated. When have y’all seen Denver this frustrated, y’all?”

Anthony Edwards and the Timberwolves have the defending champion Denver Nuggets on the ropes in the second-round series between the two teams.

Minnesota owns a 2-0 series lead after winning Games 1 and 2 on the road. As Howard alluded to, suffocating defense has spearheaded the Timberwolves’ excellent start to the series.

The Timberwolves have held the Nuggets to under 100 points in each of the first two games. After limiting Denver to 99 points in Game 1, Minnesota was even better defensively in Game 2, considering the Nuggets mustered just 80 points as a team.

Minnesota has done a particularly good job of making Jamal Murray’s life difficult. After all, he is fresh off one of the worst playoff performances of his NBA career in Game 2. The guard scored only eight points while shooting just 3-of-18 from the floor and 0-of-4 from deep.

The Timberwolves’ defensive numbers in the 2024 NBA Playoffs suggest that they have been the better teams in the league on that side of the ball. Minnesota ranks fourth among all playoff teams in defensive rating (105.5) and is allowing opponents to score just 98.7 points per contest across six games.

Like this current Timberwolves team, the 2019-20 Lakers also hung their hat on the defensive side of the ball. During their run to the NBA title back in the 2020 playoffs, Los Angeles held opponents to 106.0 points per game, which was the third-fewest of any playoff team that year. Only the Boston Celtics (104.4) and Toronto Raptors (105.3) held their opponents to less, and neither of those teams even reached the NBA Finals.

While Minnesota’s defensive excellence during the 2024 postseason makes it easy to see why Howard is drawing comparisons between the squad and the 2019-20 Lakers right now, if the Timberwolves don’t win the title later this year, those comparisons might not have much of a leg to stand on.

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Jesse is an aspiring sports journalist that has previously worked as a staff writer at SB Nation’s CelticsBlog and The Knicks Wall.