Timberwolves

T-Wolves’ Tumultuous Season Comes Down to Tonight

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For the first time in 17 years, the Minnesota Timberwolves organization has put together back-to-back 40-win seasons.

This earned them a second-consecutive trip to the NBA Play-In Tournament.

The Start of the Reset

Last season, the Wolves went 46-36 and secured the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference by defeating the Los Angeles Clippers. Despite the distraction of glue girl protesting for the chickens, the team battled from behind in the fourth quarter to take the lead. The Wolves would hold on to that lead for the remaining four-and-a-half minutes.

In a now-infamous viral clip, Patrick Beverley and Anthony Edwards jumped atop the scorer’s table to celebrate the win, much like their idol Kevin Garnett did back in Wolves’ glory days.

A first-round exit shortly followed this, and then the Timberwolves shocked the NBA with a blockbuster trade. Acquiring three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert in exchange for multiple future first-round picks and multiple role players became the focal point of the Wolves fanbase and media. 

2022-2023

Gobert has been a force for the Wolves despite a season filled with ups and downs.

Karl-Anthony Towns came into the season sick and unconditioned and missed 14 weeks of the season due to a setback in his rehab from a calf injury he suffered 21 games into the season. Anthony Edwards showed up over his usual size. Gobert felt tiredness from EuroBasket so he rested during the preseason. Despite all these abnormalities, the season started with the Wolves winning four out of six games. The regular season ended with the Wolves winning seven of ten.

Minnesota squeaked into the play-in tournament as the No. 8 seed. 

Similar Situations.

Much like the majority of this season, the wolves headed into the 7-8 play-in game with the odds stacked against them. The Wolves remain without several players who have been a factor in the rotations this year.

Promising young star Naz Reid went down in one of the final games of the season with a broken wrist. Naz has since undergone surgery to repair the injury. Naz is out indefinitely. This hurt the Wolves a lot seeing as in the eight games before he was injured, Naz saw himself scoring in double figures, including three games north of 20 points.

Reid averaged 11.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 0.8 blocks per game this season while shooting 34.6% on threes and 65.3% from two-point range.

Jaden McDaniels has also been ruled out after he suffered a fractured hand by punching a wall during the team’s wild win over the New Orleans Pelicans in the final game of the regular season. The unfortunate part— the tunnel where McDaniels punches the wall was closed off last year.

Chalk the punch up as youth, immaturity and impulsivity. McDaniels has had a stellar year and the Timberwolves had recently launched a unique PR campaign to raise awareness for his claim to an All-NBA nomination.

The Wolves were also without Rudy Gobert, who was serving a one-game suspension for his altercation in a conflict with teammate Kyle Anderson in a team huddle. During the second-quarter bench exchange, Gobert launched a punch that connected to Anderson’s shoulder/chest area.

Win or Go Home.

It’s as simple as that.

The Timberwolves either win Friday night over the Oklahoma City Thunder, or they’re done for the season.

A win secures the West’s No. 8 seed and a date with the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs. The Wolves and Thunder met four times in the first two-and-a-half months of the regular season, with the Wolves taking three of four.

That doesn’t mean much to the Timberwolves this season, though. Minnesota is just 17-18 against losing teams this year. It appears to come from a lack of focus and ball movement. 63.4% of Wolves baskets came off an assist in games that landed the Wolves in the W column. When Minnesota recorded a loss, only 58.3% of baskets came off an assist.

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Keys to earn the trip to Denver.

KAT will need to keep his fouls in check. He battled foul trouble against the Lakers on Tuesday. This matches a theme from last season’s play-in game versus the Clippers, as he fouled out with about seven-and-a-half minutes left in the game. Gobert will need to make his presence in the paint felt, if he plays. Gobert looks to be a game-time decision, as he is listed as questionable with the back spasms that have been bugging him since the Pelicans game five days ago.

Edwards we know is missing.

Anthony Edwards needs to do better. He was just 3-for-17 in Tuesday’s matchup with the Lakers. Minnesota will need him to show up as the Edwards that averaged 25.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game during last year’s playoffs. Minnesota needs the “When them lights come on, I show up.” version of Anthony Edwards.

They need the third-year guard to show up with the defense he has grown into this season. He needs to bring his dominant and confident offensive bag.

The good news for Wolves fans— Edwards feels great.

Wolves Nation needs you to be great Friday night.

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About Sabrina Hiller

Sabrina Hiller is a Minnesota Native who currently calls the Twin Cities home. Sabrina has previously worked with the Football, Men's, & Women's Basketball teams while attending Bemidji State University. She spends her days working at a Twin Cities nonprofit as a Program Manager, she spends her nights watching Minnesota Sports, and supporting as often as she can.

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