Timberwolves’ Rudy Gobert juggling new fatherhood and a championship chase

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The Timberwolves entered Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals on Friday at Target Center having not exactly taken advantage of “home-court advantage” in these playoffs.

Through 12 postseason bouts, the Wolves were 5-1 away from home and 3-3 in Minneapolis. That’s despite Target Center truly rocking on a game-by-game basis.

So, what gives?

“We were talking about this, too,” Wolves center Rudy Gobert said. “I mean, we got to find ways to be better. I think sometimes at home you have more noise, more distractions.”

The Wolves believe their biggest competition is themselves. Can they maturely handle noise — especially positive noise? Ahead of Game 3 in their West semifinal series against the Nuggets and again ahead of Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, Minnesota returned home and received heaps of praise amid multiple days off, then laid eggs in the following contests.

Distractions are aplenty. And they’re amplified at home.

That’s because, Gobert noted, everyone wants to be a part of winning and success. The people around you want to celebrate the victories with you.

“Everybody wants to come home, to come see you play, everybody wants to come to your house. Friends or family, everyone wants to be a part of that when you’re winning,” Gobert said. “But you’re winning because you’re also locked in and you’re able to be in your own bubble, so I think everyone is on the same page now and understands that everything we need is in this locker room, and through adversity or great moments, we’re going to believe that and in the people in this locker room.”

Gobert told his teammates it’s important to establish boundaries.

“Tell your people that you’re trying to accomplish something,” Gobert said. “When it’s done, if we have to celebrate, celebrate. Now, we got to recover, have peace of mind. Have to be the most friendly to recovery and friendly to peace of mind.”

Easier said than done. Timberwolves coach Chris Finch likes the “bunker mentality” that can be achieved on the road. Everything through the day of a road game is about the game. That’s not realistic at home. Gobert, Anthony Edwards and Nickeil Alexander-Walker, for instance, are all new fathers.

Gobert said he wishes he could spend more time with his 2-week-old son. He’d love to lie on the couch and sleep with him.

“But I have to make decisions on the timing,” Gobert said. “I’ve been working my (butt) off every day for 11 years to get to this point. Sometimes you have to make tough decisions. Thankfully he has a great mom taking care of him.”

Gobert said his girlfriend has allowed him to get valuable sleep and taken on numerous responsibilities with their newborn.

“Even though I also spend a lot of time with them, but sleep for me is the most important,” Gobert said. “I think it’s also a great balance for me in the midst. I’ve always been so driven on my routine and on success and winning and all these things that having that balance of sometimes just turning that off and spending some real genuine moments with my kid and with her, it just helps be even better when I come back into work mode. It’s been an amazing few weeks so far.”

Gobert is still laser-focused on the task at hand. He knows how fleeting these opportunities are.

“I always dreamed about being a champion. It’s always been my goal, winning a championship, when I was in Utah, since I got in the league,” Gobert said. “When I got traded here, the first thing that I said is that I believe. I believe in this organization. I believe in the group. I believe in the team these guys are trying to build. I’m really grateful that they believed in me to try to help this team get to the next level. For me, and for this organization, we are now in a territory that we haven’t been before, and for this team and for this group, and I’m enjoying the moment. There’s nothing I want more right now than a championship, so I’m going to do whatever it takes.”


Anthony Edwards was rolling in trophies doled out by the NBA for its fan favorites of the year. Edwards won in three separate categories: dunk of the year and photo of the year, both for his iconic slam over John Collins in Utah, as well as block of the year for his game-saving swat at the buzzer in Indiana.

Edwards noted he was thankful for the honors but chose not to keep the trophies for himself. He gave one each to valuable members of the coaching staff: Javair Gillett (vice president of sports science and performance), Chris Hines (player development coach) and David Hines (vice president of medical operations and performance therapy).

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