The Timberwolves didn't have Patrick Beverley for most of their win over Miami and Karl-Anthony Towns out because of foul trouble in the first half.
They didn't have Beverley for all of Saturday's two-overtime win over Philadelphia because of a left adductor strain and Towns fouled out late in the fourth quarter. The Wolves still won both games and are sitting at .500 after their first 20 games of the season.
If this week proved something to the Wolves, it's that they can hang with most teams, even if they are missing key personnel for stretches of time.
"We're proving that we can play with some of the teams that are established here," coach Chris Finch said. "Play hard, play defense like that and we execute what we're trying to do out there, we have a lot of really tough shot-makers.
"But it's all about our defense. We were locked in right from the beginning [Saturday]. Those guys did a great job. They did everything we asked them to do."
There were many times the Wolves could have let the game against Philadelphia go — when Towns fouled out, when Jaden McDaniels and Jarred Vanderbilt fouled out during the overtimes, or they could have been demoralized by Andre Drummond's tip-in that tied it at the end of the first overtime.
The Wolves kept answering thanks to D'Angelo Russell's 35 points, 27 of which came in the fourth quarter and the overtimes. The Wolves held enough defensively, including the final possession when Anthony Edwards blocked Joel Embiid.
"We can beat any team when we're playing this way," Towns said. "I think everyone looked at us as underdogs against Miami. We went and took care of business. Everyone looked at us as underdogs coming in [Saturday]. We came here and we had to fight. We had to really, really get this gutsy win out and we really did it.
I think this win showed a lot more of us than the Miami Heat game because like I said, there was multiple times we could've let go of the rope and just quit."
Towns plays through injury, wishes Embiid well
Towns entered Saturday's game questionable because of a right index finger injury. He had a wrap on his hand after the game as well.
"It was definitely something to worry about," Towns said. "I took a lot of hard falls [against Charlotte]. I took a lot of punishment. It was a very physical game for me. I knew coming in it was going to be different. I didn't know if I could truly catch a basketball or shoot it proficiently."
Towns ended up shooting 11 of 16 for the game.
"It gave me some trouble, but I felt confident I could be a benefit for this team and at least catch the basketball," Towns said. "I told Finch and the medical staff here as long as I could catch the basketball, I'm going to play."
Towns shared a moment before tipoff with Embiid, who he memorably scuffled with two seasons ago. But the tensions have cooled in their on-court feistiness. Embiid had just battled COVID and missed nine games. Saturday was his first game back. Embiid said COVID hit him hard.
"I really thought I wasn't going to make it. It was that bad," Embiid said. "So, I'm just thankful to be sitting here. I'm just glad I got over it."
Towns said he told Embiid he was glad to see him playing.
"I'm very happy he's come to the other side of COVID," Towns said. "We've had our thing for a while but that's bigger than basketball. It's bigger than what we have. I've seen it kill people. But I'm glad he's on the other side. I'm very, very happy that he's doing well and he's coming on the other side, getting himself back to basketball."