Washington Wizards center Ian Mahinmi has not played much over the last three games. While matchups explain his limited minutes, Mahinmi, who collected his first healthy DNP of the season Saturday in Miami against the Heat, does not plan on scrutinizing Coach Scott Brooks’s decision.
“I’m not overthinking that,” Mahinmi said.
Instead, Mahinmi can expect to make more of an impact Tuesday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves and all-star center Karl-Anthony Towns. While the 7-foot Towns poses a matchup problem — he shoots threes, finishes inside and flashes low-post moves for turnaround jumpers — Mahinmi enjoyed a breakout moment earlier this season for his defensive work against the young Minnesota star.
On Nov. 28, the Wizards had lost two straight and John Wall was injured, but they secured a morale-boosting win over the Timberwolves, 92-89. Otto Porter Jr. hit clutch shots and finished with a game-high 22 points, and Mahinmi anchored the team defensively in the fourth quarter. While matched against Towns, Mahinmi limited him to 2-for-6 shooting in the final frame.
“It was one of those games I didn’t score much, but defensively I felt like I was at the right place. I was making plays, too, defensively,” said Mahinmi, who finished a plus-18 on the night. “It is a tough matchup. He has a lot of stuff in his game. Me, I’m always trying to make stuff hard for all those skilled bigs that can shoot, that can drive.”
Though Mahinmi scored just two points, the Minnesota game stood out as one of his best of the season. Following that performance, Mahinmi still did not exude much excitement, only saying it felt good “to get a good chunk of minutes in the fourth quarter.”
With his recently sporadic minutes, Mahinmi, in his 10th year, knows it’s best to stay even-keeled about every development over the course of a long season.
“Physically you can feel a certain way,” Mahinmi said, “but to be mentally tough, that’s the challenge. Especially over an 82-game season.
“To do what’s right every day and never get bored … it’s very hard,” Mahinmi said. “Doing the right assignments every day, wanting to win, wanting to be the team that cares the most, that’s what is hard. Even when you’re tired. You’re playing good [or] bad teams. To be mentally tough is the challenge.”