The Timberwolves are in the postseason
It has only happened five times in the history of the NBA. Only five times has a single regular season game determined a team’s playoff berth. In a game that would seem more appropriate for a Minnesota loss saw the Timberwolves rise over the Denver Nuggets 112-106 in overtime.
For the first time in 13 seasons, the Timberwolves will take part in the playoffs. For the first time since 2004, Minnesota will be represented following the conclusion of the 82-game season.
Just one season removed from the 31-win eyesore, the Timberwolves have jumped to 47 wins and now hold the eighth seed in the Western Conference.
Back in 2004, Facebook is just hitting the web as popular TV show “Friends” is wrapping up its final season. The Statue of Liberty is reopened for the first time since 9/11 and Janet Jackson’s nip-slip during the Super Bowl is still fresh in everyone’s mind.
The Timberwolves have been guided into the playoffs by Kevin Garnett and Latrell Sprewell. After 58 wins, along with Garnett taking MVP honors, the Timberwolves were in the No. 1 seed.
It took five games against the Denver Nuggets in the first round and seven in the second against the Sacramento Kings (yes, the Kings in the playoffs does feel foreign) and the Timberwolves were in the Western Conference Finals. It was there they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in six games.
Fast forward to the present, 13 seasons later, and the Timberwolves are back in the playoffs. Jimmy Butler is fresh off a 41-minute game three contests into his return from knee injury. His 31-point night concludes a season that saw him average 22.2 points per game. He was assisted throughout the season by the efforts of rising star Karl-Anthony Towns, who posted a double-double average (21.3 points and 12.3 rebounds) while also averaging 1.4 blocks every outing.
Around the two All-Stars, Andrew Wiggins, Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson, Jamal Crawford, Tyus Jones and Derrick Rose have made for a motley crew. The supporting cast was never short of supplying a story or adding some controversy, but it proved enough to get this team past the Nuggets in overtime and into the playoffs on the eighth seed.
Now, whatever happens against the Rockets, the playoff drought that had marooned the Timberwolves on the outside looking in for so long is finally – mercifully – over.
Photo: Minnesota Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns, right, and Jeff Teague celebrate after the team’s win over the Denver Nuggets in an NBA basketball game Wednesday, April 11, 2018, in Minneapolis. (Carlos Gonzalez/Star Tribune via AP)