The Minnesota Timberwolves might actually win a spot for the 2017 NBA playoffs. If they do, it will be the first time in 13 years that they will have reached the post-season, as the last time the team was a playoff contender was in the spring of 2004, a time I remember vividly.
Since then, Minnesota has gone through the lowest of the lows, and each time we scored a decent player or coach, my hope that the Timberwolves would once again become a team to proudly support rose, only to be struck down time and time again.
Ricky Rubio, Andrew Wiggins, and Carl Anthony Towns were all expected, at least by me, to be able to bring back the magic the Timberwolves had lost. After even Towns’ presence failed to bring significant change during the 2015-2016 season, I’d given up. The disappointment I felt grew enough to overshadow any hope I once had. I was officially done with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
I know bad luck is partly to blame for our downfall. Injury upon injury coupled with the tragic passing of coach Flip Saunders proved that fate was not on our side. But still, with the addition of Towns, how could so much talent be so horrible?
I’d stopped watching the games, which had become too painful to witness, but then something happened. Minnesota started winning games, not just at home, but on the road, against really good teams! Surely this was to be short-lived, right? After all, the Timberwolves had proven over and over again that they were cursed to a sorry existence within the NBA.
Could new head coach Tom Thibodeau be the thing that finally turns the Timberwolves into a top NBA competitor? When I heard he was going to be coaching Minnesota, I couldn’t bring myself to care because no one else had brought change, so why would he be any different?
Perhaps I was wrong.
The first game in a very long time that I watched the entirety of was the Timberwolves-Warriors game this past Friday. It’s been awhile since I remember being so engrossed in a Timberwolves game. Not only was Minnesota a worthy opponent against probably the best team in the NBA, but we actually won! This victory against Golden State was unique in that the Target Center, where the Timberwolves hold their games, had a record-breaking crowd of 20,412 fans.
Is this the turning point I’ve been waiting for? Does Minnesota have a chance to claim an NBA Championship for themselves? My heart says “yes,” but my head cautions against letting that hope spring free.
Even if the Timberwolves do make the 2017 playoffs, I don’t expect them to get very far. I’m sure they would win a few games, but the possibility of them getting past the first round, let alone winning it all, is slim. Still, it’s a step in the right direction.
Point guard Ricky Rubio is playing as well as he’s ever played. During Monday’s win against the Washington Wizards, he broke a Timberwolves franchise record (set by him) on most assists (19) in one game. Rubio is not known for his stellar shooting, but he scored 22 points during the game as well. I’m glad we didn’t trade him because although he has drawbacks, he is the glue that sticks the team together. Putting someone in his place, no matter who, would be a horrible idea at this point in time.
Karl Anthony Towns agrees with me, as he is reported to have said, “We just picked up with any pieces he could give us. It felt like mostly the puzzle was already done, with the way he played. He almost single-handedly won us this game tonight.”
Not that Towns shouldn’t give himself a little credit. During the 35 minutes he played during the Timberwolves-Wizards game, Towns scored 39 points and got 13 rebounds, adding another double-double to his already crowded list of accomplishments.
Add Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine, who will hopefully be back next season, and you’ve got a pretty talented team. Some people think Wiggins is overrated, but I am not one of those people. My prediction is that those who think this will soon be eating their words.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have once again made my hopes go up, but will I be facing yet another disappointment?
[Featured Image by Andy Clayton-King/AP Images]