Karl-Anthony Towns will indeed start Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Clippers after missing the last 13 games with COVID-19, the Minnesota Timberwolves announced.
The Athletic's Sham's Charnia reported Towns was expected to return Wednesday afternoon, but it wasn't long before the All-Star was disputing the report. The Timberwolves center responded that the status update was "news to me" and that he planned to re-evaulate his condition after participating in shootaround.
This is news to me! Last time I checked, I was gonna go through shootaround and see how I feel. Underlying conditions and Covid don’t mix well. https://t.co/1fZHSTWnEt
— Karl-Anthony Towns (@KarlTowns) February 10, 2021
Apparently, Towns felt good enough at shootaround to start, though we'll see how many minutes he ends up playing.
Towns announced that he tested positive for COVID-19 on Jan. 15 and hasn't played a game since. He lost his mother, Jacqueline Cruz-Towns, to COVID-19 in April, and has lost six other family members to the virus.
Timberwolves helping Towns prepare for game action
It's been a long road back, and the Timberwolves have been very careful with Towns' preparation. They didn't want to rush him back, so Towns has been taking advantage of the extra gym time he gets when the team is on the road.
“He’s been partaking in all of that. He’s really been able to push himself,” Timberwolves head coach Ryan Saunders told the Twin Cities Pioneer Press. “Our medical group has been able to try to simulate certain stints during a game, the stopping and going, what that might feel like with his lungs.”
It's Towns' lungs that are the biggest issue. Since COVID-19 affects the lungs and can make it difficult to breathe, the Timberwolves have made sure to focus on Towns' lung capacity. However, Saunders knows that until Towns actually gets into a game, they won't know how his lungs respond.
“Nothing can simulate a game environment like a game,” Saunders said. “Because there’s a lot of bumping, it’s physical and you can’t always simulate it with coaches, even as in shape as our coaches feel they are, they aren’t able to simulate what he’d see against a [Jonas] Valanciunas or a lot of bigger guys we’ve been facing.”
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