On Instagram Wednesday afternoon, Karl-Anthony Towns made official what had been rumored for the past few days — that he was set to return Wednesday night following a 52-game absence because of a right calf strain.
Now that Towns has made his long-awaited return, what will it look like as he reacclimates to playing?
Coach Chris Finch had Towns in the starting lineup as he works through initial restrictions and ramps up to full speed.
Towns played 26 minutes, scoring 22 points including the winning free throws.
"Expectations are that he just kind of settles into the flow of the game," Finch said. "Not try to do too much at this point in time. Most importantly, knock the rust off, certainly want him to be himself, but not at the expense of what we're trying to do out there. I think that's a pretty easy ask for him."
The Wolves will see if Towns' reintegration to the lineup may hinder or help how they play as they make a playoff push.
"Definitely a delicate dance," Finch said. "He's going to come back and obviously he's going to come back with a lot of gusto and energy, and that's what we want. We got to trust that we're all going to make the right plays out there."
Related to that, what kind of version of Towns will the Wolves be getting? Finch didn't know if the final two weeks of the regular season would be enough for Towns to get back to his full self on the floor. But the schedule does set up well with multiple off days when Towns can play and take some time to recover. For instance, the Wolves don't play again after Wednesday until Sunday.
"It all will hinge on where he stands coming into this game," Finch said. "... I think next week he should be able to develop a really good rhythm because we play a lot."
Anthony Edwards (sprained right ankle) remained out for the third consecutive game. Jordan McLaughlin missed the game because of an illness.
Amid the injury news to Towns and Edwards, the Wolves welcomed back guard Jaylen Nowell on Monday from a 10-game absence because of left knee tendinopathy.
The injury is the same as what Edwards dealt with last season, and it's unlikely to heal the rest of the season. Nowell will likely have to manage the pain as best he can and play through it. He was feeling better of late after sitting for the past few weeks and was able to go Monday.
"It was slow and long. Just really tough," Nowell said of the recovery. "There were times it felt good, then would play on it for like five minutes and it wouldn't feel good. We just kind of had to sit and do a lot of treatment. It was tough, just getting out there and watching the game, not playing. But glad to be back now."
Nowell made an immediate impact by going 7-for-13 for 14 points in the win over the Knicks. The Wolves could use his shot creation while Edwards is out, and that was something Nowell's teammates were telling him they needed.
"I told them I would be ready," Nowell said.