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Wolves storm again, knock out champion Nuggets in Recreation 7

  • Dave McMenamin, ESPN Workers WriterMay 19, 2024, 10:47 PM ET


    • Lakers and NBA reporter for ESPN.
    • Coated the Lakers and NBA for ESPNLosAngeles.com from 2009-14, the Cavaliers from 2014-18 for ESPN.com and the NBA for NBA.com from 2005-09.

DENVER — The Minnesota Timberwolves’ historic 20-point comeback over the Denver Nuggets in Sunday’s Recreation 7 to earn a visit to the Western Convention finals truly began 13 months in the past at bar a couple of miles away from Ball Area.

The Timberwolves had simply misplaced to the Nuggets within the first spherical of the playoffs in April 2023, with Anthony Edwards’ potential game-tying 3 developing empty as time expired in Recreation 5. Afterward, Edwards and a few teammates went to a cocktail lounge, Neglect Me Not, within the Cherry Creek neighborhood, with their chartered flight again house not scheduled to go away till the following morning.

Of all the gin joints in all the cities in all the world, Denver level guard Jamal Murray — contemporary off a 35-point displaying within the closeout sport — simply so occurred to stroll into the identical bar because the Timberwolves.

And Edwards, a budding star but to have the breakout postseason that has turned him right into a bona fide famous person this spring, had a message to ship to Murray.

“He was speaking s—,” Edwards informed ESPN as he walked down the ramp towards the group bus after his membership’s 98-90 victory on Sunday. “He was telling Mike [Conley]’I am sick of you, you possibly can’t guard me,’ and all that.

“I informed him, ‘We’ll be again. You may see us once more once we’re absolutely loaded.'”

Edwards’ declaration got here to fruition Sunday.

The Timberwolves, who trailed by as many as 20 factors within the third quarter, stormed again to finish the biggest comeback in a Recreation 7 up to now 25 postseasons to dethrone the defending champion Nuggets.

“It reveals who we’re,” Edwards mentioned following the victory. “As soon as we actually lock in on the defensive finish, man, we’re a hell of a group to beat.”

In the meantime, the Nuggets turned the fifth consecutive defending NBA champion to fail to achieve the convention finals — and the primary group in league historical past to guide by 15 or extra at halftime of a Recreation 7 and go on to lose.

Simply as Edwards proclaimed, it was a complete group effort that took Denver down, with six Timberwolves scoring in double digits as in comparison with simply two for the Nuggets. It was wanted too, with Edwards struggling by a 6-for-24 taking pictures night time.

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Timberwolves four-time All-Star Karl-Anthony Cities led the way in which, delivering essentially the most spectacular efficiency of his nine-year profession.

Cities, the franchise’s No. 1 choose in 2015 and the longest-tenured member of the group, scored 23 factors with 12 rebounds, 2 steals and a blocked shot. Extra importantly, he gave about as efficient a one-on-one defensive effort towards Denver’s three-time MVP, Nikola Jokic, as anybody could possibly be anticipated to present.

“I believe you see how at peace and blissful he’s proper now,” Minnesota coach Chris Finch mentioned of Cities. “He needed to belief that he was by no means going to be marginalized. All younger gamers at all times suppose they will do all of it by themselves, however on this league, no one can.

“I could not be extra blissful and proud for him. Simply because I believe he is confronted a whole lot of unfair criticism in relation to the postseason at instances.”

Jokic completed with 34 factors and 19 rebounds however shot 13-for-28 from the sector and 2-for-10 on 3-pointers. Murray scored 35 on 13-for-27 taking pictures with 3 assists and 4 turnovers.

It was Cities’ fifth 20-point effort of the postseason, with all 5 of them approaching the street.

“It was robust, man, as a result of I could not discover myself, my rhythm tonight,” Edwards mentioned. “So, I simply needed to belief my teammates. … I simply needed to make the precise performs all through the remainder of the sport. I did that, and my teammates made pictures. Huge shoutout to these guys.”

The Timberwolves used a 32-9 run from the ten:50 mark of the third quarter to 11:14 of the fourth to wrest management of the sport from the Nuggets. Whereas Edwards began simply 1-for-9 from the sector, he discovered extra success after halftime, scoring 9 factors within the third, together with a step-back 3 to beat the quarter buzzer. Rudy Gobert, Minnesota’s four-time Defensive Participant of the 12 months, added an surprising offensive punch within the fourth quarter, scoring eight of his 13 factors within the remaining body — together with a miraculous, arcing turnaround soar shot — after beginning the sport 1-for-5.

Run For The Ages

The Timberwolves had been down 20 factors to the Nuggets at 10:50 of the third quarter Sunday night time. After that, the Wolves staged the biggest comeback in a Recreation 7 up to now 25 seasons. A have a look at the way it unfolded:

MINDENPts6032FG18-3612-353-pt FG6-163-19– ESPN Stats & Data

“I believe when Rudy hit the turnaround, I used to be like, ‘Yeah, we in all probability obtained them,'” Edwards mentioned when requested when he actually felt momentum had turned in Minnesota’s favor. “Huge shoutout to Huge Ru, hit the turnaround on their a–.”

Within the second half, Gobert helped the Timberwolves maintain the Nuggets to only 37 factors on 35.9% taking pictures (19% from 3) and outrebound Denver 29-15.

“It feels nice,” Gobert mentioned. “Beating a group like they’re, an unbelievable group, a championship group, with the most effective participant on the earth, it feels good.”

Minnesota went forward by as many as 10 within the fourth on an Edwards nook 3 with 3:05 remaining, inflicting the Nuggets to name timeout as Edwards screamed and jumped for pleasure, hugging a courtside fan. A loud contingent of touring Minnesota followers stuffed the world with a “Let’s go Wolves!” chant to punctuate the second.

“That was dope,” mentioned Minnesota heart Naz Reid, who continued to shine in his Sixth Man of the 12 months function with 11 factors off the bench. “We had our personal part, and so they had been going towards the entire stadium.”

The Timberwolves’ 17-year veteran, Mike Conley, chipped in 10 factors and eight rebounds and broke an 0-4 profession mark in Recreation 7s. Jaden McDaniels, whom Edwards referred to as the group’s MVP of the playoffs to this point, scored 23 factors on 7-for-10 taking pictures to go together with 6 rebounds, 2 steals and a block.

The twentieth assembly of the 2 groups between the common season and the playoffs for the reason that begin of the 2022-23 marketing campaign turned out to be a traditional — and essentially the most compelling sport of the sequence. (Solely two of the primary six video games of this second-round sequence had been determined by fewer than 10 factors, whereas three video games concerned a remaining margin of 25-plus factors.)

“That was a hell of a sequence,” Denver coach Michael Malone mentioned. “They gave us all we might deal with, and so they ended up profitable Recreation 7 on our house court docket, which is a troublesome one to swallow. However we’ll be again.”

Minnesota improved to 2-0 in Recreation 7 in franchise historical past and is the NBA’s solely undefeated franchise in Recreation 7.

And Cities identified that Sunday occurred to be Timberwolves legend Kevin Garnett’s forty eighth birthday, making it all of the extra applicable that Minneapolis goes to celebration prefer it’s 2004. For the primary time in twenty years, when Garnett & Co. misplaced to the Los Angeles Lakers in six video games, the Wolves are again within the convention finals.

“I simply need these guys to grasp. I do not suppose they perceive what they only did,” the 36-year-old Conley mentioned. “Engaging in what they’ve and attending to the West Convention finals is a superb alternative. Do not take it without any consideration. Rejoice the second now, however be able to go. You will have one other group ready for you. All people’s in the way in which of your targets, so you must be able to go.”

The Timberwolves will face the Dallas Mavericks for the precise to symbolize the West within the NBA Finals. Minnesota will host Recreation 1 on Wednesday.

The Wolves opened as -150 favorites to win the sequence over the Mavs, who test in at +130, per ESPN BET odds.

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