The Minnesota Timberwolves made the playoffs for the first time in 14 years (13 seasons), and they were jubilant.
The only thing holding the Minnesota Timberwolves back from pure joy after they locked a playoff spot up in their 112-106 overtime win against the Denver Nuggets, was the fact that the Wolves’ had to play the league’s best team in the MVP-led James Harden’s Houston Rockets.
Even with the Wolves ultimately losing the series 4-1 against the Rockets, Target Center was still electric in their lone 121-105 win at home (first playoff win since 2004).
Head Coach Tom Thibodeau had this to say just about making the playoffs, via ESPN’s Nick Friedell:
"“I’m proud of the players,” Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau said after his team knocked off the Denver Nuggets 112-106 in an overtime thriller Wednesday. “I think the work that they’ve put in and the growth that they’ve had over the year is something that I respect greatly, and I told them that today. I said, ‘You’ve earned the opportunity. Now we have to act on it.’ They don’t give you wins. You have to go out there and earn it. I’m glad in some ways that we had to win the game and play our way in because you want to earn things. I think that’s important. And to look at where we are today from where we were two years ago, I think it’s been great growth.”"
The Wolves’ really hadn’t been close in recent years in the playoffs, even during the Kevin Love years, so getting this post-season lock was huge for the morale of the franchise.
Aside from Thibs, the players were besides themselves as well, here’s some words from Karl-Anthony Towns and former-wolf Jimmy Butler:
"“It’s a lot of emotions,” Towns told ESPN. “It’s a lot of a promise I made to Flip, and I’m glad that I was able to be part of this team that was able to bring Minnesota back to the playoffs. This city deserves it. Minneapolis deserves it, the state deserves it. I’m glad we were able to bring it back.” “It means a lot,” Timberwolves All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler said after scoring 31 points. “Not only for the franchise but every guy in this locker room. We work so hard all season. This is the goal that we wanted. No matter what seed we were going to be, we wanted to be in the playoffs. We wanted to compete for a championship. Now it’s all about going in there and [being] the first one to win four games.”"
Butler even added that Thibodeau smiled, which he said was one of the first times he saw a grin on the veteran head coach. And if playoffs is what it takes to make this team come together and what makes Thibs smile, then so be it, playoffs it is.
Speaking of Butler, our next moment shines a bright light on a seemingly happy soccer enthusiast that wasn’t exactly happy …