After a blowout loss in Game 2, Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau stressed the importance of his All-Star center being more active against double-teams by playing with more energy and running the floor.
Towns is just 5-of-18 from the field in the series after averaging 21.3 points during his third season in the NBA. Despite leading all centers in 3-point percentage in the regular season, Towns is 1-of-5 from beyond the arc in the playoffs.
Asked Friday after practice whether he needed to take it upon himself to be more aggressive or let the game come to him, Towns' tight-lipped "yes" gave every indication that the center knows a win in Game 3 is reliant upon his being active offensively.
Still, the 22-year-old isn't letting his rough start cast frustrations over the entire series.
"I've been fine," Towns said. "I've slept normal. I haven't lost any sleep. You want to win badly, but you dwell too much on the past, you forget that you've got to take care of the present. You've got to move on."
Part of moving past a 2-0 first-round deficit will be adjusting elements of the game plan to better suit Towns' strengths. Trying to "force feed" the center in the post when smaller guards switched onto him didn't yield positive results for Minnesota in Game 2.
"Instead of just eyeing KAT down in the post, trying to get him the ball, we have to make multiple plays and multiple efforts," Jeff Teague said. "That means swinging the ball, driving it. And then if [Towns] still has a little on him and he can seal off in the paint, try to get it to him. Instead of just eyeing [Towns] down, eyeing him down. That plays into the shot clock. And then when he finally gets it, there's a double coming and we have to throw up some miracle shot at the end of the shot clock, and it's not working for us."
Thibodeau reiterated a need for Towns to "trust the pass" due to Houston's constant double-teams. The Rockets' heavy switching should allow the center to exploit mismatches on that area of the floor where he has been at his best offensively.
This series, however, Towns hasn't been able to successfully attack mismatches. If the Rockets continue that effort in hopes of rendering Towns ineffective yet again, it will be necessary for the offense to flow through other hands.
"Any time there's a second or third defender coming, just hit the open man and keep moving," Thibodeau said.
"I think he's learning. I thought he played very well defensively. I think offensively he's got to understand that they're committing a lot of players to him. Any time a team does that, that's where you have to trust the pass, you have to play with energy, you have to beat people down the floor. You got to keep moving, you got to hit the offensive board, you got to screen, you got to step and you have to also just trust each other."
Another way the Wolves hope to get Towns a few easy baskets is in transition.
"We have to get him to get out and run," Teague said. "You get the rebound, he's got to take off."